FARGO, N.D. — Elyria’s wrestling team has been at or near the top of the crop at the state level for years, but coach Erik Burnett has always had the bigger picture in mind.
After Monday’s performance, the Pioneers proved they aren’t leaving the national scene any time soon.
Nationally ranked the last four years, Elyria moved another step up the rung when Mick Burnett finished runner-up in the U.S. Marine Corps Cadet Freestyle Nationals, while Colin Noel and Jordan Crace clinched All-American status at the junior level.
That’s a school record for any style in Fargo.
Burnett comes back home with his second top-eight finish in the FargoDome. Noel (100 pounds) and Crace (138) will wrestle for fifth this afternoon.
“You can tell it’s an actual team,” Crace said. “It’s like they’re all family on this team. We’re all close with one another. We can lean on each other. That definitely helps us learn. It helps us grow and helps us push even harder.”
Mick Burnett (126) wound up as a runner-up after losing 5-1 in the finals to Colorado’s Dom Serrano.
Serrano was a two-time cadet freestyle finalist and United World Wrestling All-American and had just too much for Burnett, a 2018 state runner-up and two-time All-American.
Undaunted, Burnett knows just what it means to be on the raised stage and wrestling for a national title, so he didn’t take his showing lightly.
“It’s still a runner-up and second place, but it’s a second place at the national level,” he said. “It’s a bit more competition, so I think I’ve made progress. Obviously, I didn’t get the result I wanted, but it’s all a process about getting there. It’ll give me a lot of confidence going forward. Coming out and making the finals, there’s not much more you can build on.”
Noel opened with a 10-6 win over Steven Cook and then picked up a slick pin over North Dakota’s Christian Tanefeu to earn All-American status.
The 100-pounder was down 12-3, but was able to stick Tanefeu at 2:46.
Crace topped five state champions before Brecksville state titlist Gabe Tagg beat him 14-11 in the semifinals. He wrestled the last three matches on a sprained ankle.
“It shows that the kids are willing to do what we need them to do,” Erik Burnett said. “We’re trying to prepare them for these events, so I feel good about that as a coach.
“The buy in is huge. It’s all about them. We’re just trying to help them. When they buy in, it’s so rewarding to see them get the results that they want.”
While two-time Cadet Freestyle All-American Dylan Shawver (132) fell to Illinois’ Anthony Molton in the match to place, he did have a 17-14 win over reigning national champion Noah Surtin of Illinois in the round of 16.
Still, the Pioneers will come back home with at least three All-Americans and can add a fourth if Farouq Muhammed (160) makes noise in Junior Greco.
“We had eight or nine kids qualify to come and the ones that were healthy enough did,” Erik Burnett said. “I’m super proud of Ohio working together. It makes our state so much better.”
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