FARGO, N.D. — Fargo is a different animal.
Once it gets its hooks into wrestlers, it’s hard to break free.
Mick Burnett came to the U.S. Marine Corps Cadet Freestyle Nationals last year and walked away with All-American status after finishing sixth.
Fast forward to Saturday and the Elyria standout is one win away on the championship side from clinching another top-six finish.
“It’s amazing to just get the chance to be out here again,” the Pioneers junior said. “For me to be able to get to the quarterfinals with the chance to be All-America again, it means everything.”
It should mean a ton for the 126-pounder. He’s in the toughest bracket, according to FloWrestling and is helping pace Team Ohio’s success.
In a field of 1,181 wrestlers from 46 states, Burnett put on a clinic with a win over a state-placer and three victories over state runners-up.
It started with a 10-0 technical fall over Utah state finalist Scott Robertson and continued with a tech over Georgia state-placer Julian Farber by the same score.
After a push out gave Burnett a 3-2 win over Pennsylvania runner-up Zack Witmer, he cruised to a 10-0 technical fall win over Missouri state finalist Nathaniel Pulliam.
“It’s just a big confidence booster for me,” Burnett said. “Sometimes I struggle with being confident on the wrestling mat. I think these big wins today will help me win this tournament.”
Things start this morning in earnest with Burnett facing Illinois’ Vincent Zerban, another state runner-up who placed fifth last season at 106.
“I like to think I’m one of the top guys in the weight,” Burnett said. “More or less, I think the guy that is wrestling me is going to have the problems.”
To understand just how tough Fargo is, Avon resident and St. Edward junior Bryce Hepner (145) came in with a state title and was pinned in his opening match by second-seeded Robert Perez III of California, the reigning Cadet national folkstyle champion.
Hepner rolled off wins over Cyrus Williams of Florida, Tyler Raway of Minnesota and Cole Hanson of Wisconsin and scored at the buzzer to knock off Collin McCorkle of Arizona, 7-5.
“It does show that there’s better people out there and I have to get better,” Hepner said. “I learned a lot. That first match set the bar for me. I realized the stuff I have to work on.”
His St. Edward teammate and fellow Avon resident Evan Bennett (138) was able to pick up a few wins, but bowed out after splitting four matches.
Avon’s Cael Saxton (106) found out just how tough Fargo could be as well.
The Eagles sophomore fell by technical fall to North Carolina’s Christian Decatur-Luker to start and faced Nebraska’s Trae Greve in the consolation.
Saxton built a big lead and then held on for a 9-8 win. That brought New Jersey’s Kelly Dunningan. Saxton enjoyed a five-point lead with 90 seconds left, but couldn’t hold on in an 8-7 defeat.
Undaunted, the district qualifier said he saw nothing but positives from his experience.
“Just wrestling summer freestyle is going to put you ahead of everyone else,” Saxton said. “It’s more about setting goals to do well and I fell short, but it’s a good experience.”
Teammate Cade Robertson (120) was able to pick up a big win over Michigan state-placer Caden Natale, but also lost two matches.
Elyria’s Peyton Fenton (100) picked up a win as well before falling in the consolation round of 32.
- Wrestling: Elyria keeps rising as Mick Burnett finishes second at nationals and Jordan Crace and Colin Noel secure All-American status
- Wrestling nationals: Experience on big stage a plus for area contingent
- State Wrestling: Elyria's Mick Burnett follows family's footsteps with 1st title; Peyton Fenton 1st Elyria freshman to win championship
- Mick Burnett keeps rolling, becomes first Elyria High wrestler to make Cadet freestyle national finals
- Wrestling: Team Ohio, loaded with area talent, likes its chances at upcoming nationals
- State Wrestling: Elyria has three in finals with chance to win title
- Elyria goes 0-3 in title matches; Avon's Hepner wins crown for St. Edward (VIDEOS/PHOTOS/SOCIAL UPDATES)
- State Wrestling: Elyria comes up empty, goes 0-for-3 in title matches; St. Edward's Bryce Hepner of Avon champion at 126 pounds
- State wrestling: Elyria starts strong on Day 1 (VIDEO)
- Division I district wrestling: Elyria's Brendon Fenton wins title, shows who's the real No. 1
- Division I district wrestling: Elyria in third after first day, sends six to semifinals
- Sectional Wrestling: Powers collide -- St. Ed's takes title, Elyria finishes 2nd in marquee matchup
- High school wrestling: Dual team state tournament nothing new for Elyria, which makes its fourth straight appearance today
- High school wrestling: Elyria's fourth appearance at dual team state tournament is a short one as Pioneers fall to La Salle in first round
- High school wrestling: Elyria racks up six individual GCC titles on way to fourth straight league championship; Joshua Breeding makes it 4-for-4 in conference tournaments
- H.S. Wrestling: Dual domination -- Elyria headed back to state tourney after pair of big wins
- H.S. Wrestling: Elyria bests CVCA in matchup of state-ranked teams; Brendon Fenton prevails in marquee matchup
- H.S. Wrestling: Elyria, Midview set for showdown in dual team tournament
- High school wrestling: Amherst's Matt Lee bounces back from loss in big way at Maumee Bay Classic; Elyria brings home team title
- High school wrestling: Elyria keeps rising, takes eighth at Brecksville tourney with two champions
- Wrestling: Elyria's Brendon Fenton and Dylan Shawver put last year's Ironman experience to good use, head to quarterfinals
- Rise of the wise: Elyria's Joshua Breeding excels on mat, in classroom
- Wrestling nationals: Elyria's Dylan Shawver and Mick Burnett proud but not satisfied after All-American performances
- Wrestling Nationals: Elyria's Josh Breeding, Mick Burnett looking for glory in Fargo
- Wrestling: Elyria's Mick Burnett and Dylan Shawver start strong at nationals, advance to quarterfinals
- Wrestling nationals: Mick Burnett and Dylan Shawver keep Elyria's string of All-Americans going