FARGO, N.D. — Mick Burnett may have cured his stage freight Sunday. This time he also added a bit of history to a storied Elyria wrestling program.
The junior hit the mats at the FargoDome in the toughest weight class at the toughest tournament in the nation and once again found it to his liking.
Wrestling in the U.S. Marine Corps Cadet Freestyle Nationals, the 126-pounder kept up an incredible run to reach the finals Sunday.
He became the first Cadet freestyle finalist in school history.
Burnett, who finished sixth last season, will wrestle 2017 cadet runner-up and United World Wrestling All-American Dom Serrano of Colorado for the championship today at 2 p.m.
It’s a rematch of last year’s semifinal match won by Serrano.
“It’s a big thing and speaks a lot for where our program is heading,” Burnett said. “It speaks a lot for the progress I’ve made in the last 365 days.”
The biggest match and one of the biggest wins of his life came when he built a six-point lead over Tennessee state champ and Northeast regional titlist Cody Chittum and then held on for a 10-7 victory in the semifinals.
“It’s actually nerve-wracking to me to be in big matches like that,” Burnett said. “I’ve been able to overcome some difficulties and adversities. It’s definitely a big thing for me to be in these matches and performing well. It’s good to get results like that.”
Burnett knocked off a third-place finisher and three state runners-up to open the tournament and continued the impressive performances in the quarterfinals with a win over Missouri state runner-up Vincent Zerban, who actually wrestled for Illinois.
Zerban built a sizable lead throughout the match, but Burnett roared back and won 7-6 thanks to a two-point takedown on the right edge of the mat with four seconds left.
“You’re wrestling a good kid and you just have to stay focused the whole time,” Burnett said. “That’s what I did really well in that match. I tried not to lose my composure and stayed mentally sound and found a way to score at the end. Wrestling guys like that, you have to keep your mindset. The adrenaline is still going right now.”
Avon resident and St. Edward state champion Bryce Hepner (145) fell two matches short of placing after winning five matches in a row in the bottom side of the bracket.
Junior freestyle started Sunday as well.
Elyria’s two-time cadet All-American Dylan Shawver (120) is still alive on the championship side along with teammates Jordan Crace (138) and Colin Noel (100).
Lorain’s Blake Bartlome (100) is also in the top side of the bracket.
“I think I did well,” Shawver said. “I’ll have to be prepared a lot Monday because they’ll be prepared and wanting to win.”
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