PLANO – For Coal City senior wrestler Casey Brown, six wins in his first eight bouts this year was just not a good enough start.
“Not for me, no,” he said last week at a double-dual meet in Plano.
After losing a 4-2 decision in overtime to Seneca’s Sage Friese, Brown has bounced back strong – ripping off six straight wins that concluded Saturday at the Plano Invitational with a 5-3 championship win over Shawn Wollenweber of the Reapers.
Coal City coach Mark Masters thinks Brown has been a little too hard on himself in the early portion of the season.
“As far as the two losses go, they could both very easily have been wins,” Masters said. “It doesn’t matter so much what happens in December. February is coming quick enough and that’s when everything matters.”
A feat to repeat
Last year in the IHSA Class 1A state finals, Brown was wrestling at 120 pounds as a junior.
Not to mention at a very high level.
Brown climbed the ranks before finding himself in the championship, pitted against Dakota junior Josh Alber – a match he would lose, 14-6.
Coming back for his senior year, Brown simply said he has one goal this winter.
“I just want to be a state champion this year,” Brown said.
A year ago he went 45-4, and currently is at 12-2 on this young season.
Feeling the heat
With this being his senior season, Brown admits he is feeling some pressure to continue to perform at that same level he achieved last year.
“Yeah, I’m feeling a lot of pressure this year,” he said.
Masters thinks with the help of his workout partners and fellow state finalists – Corey Jurzak and Cody Minnick – Brown will be fine.
“I think it will all come down to the workout partners that he has in practice. That’s it,” Masters said. “All the pressure he is feeling, he is putting on himself. Though we haven’t talked too much about the internal part of it, we know that he’s trying to lead this team from out front. He’s trying to lead by example and that’s where I’ve asked him to step up. He’s the senior now and a state finalist and all of the other kids on the team are looking up to him. That may come with some pressure that I’ve put on him – to practice harder.”
Brown thinks Jurzak and Minnick also will be of assistance in overcoming any pressure.
“The two state finalists on my team. I’ve been working with them,” Brown said. “And my dad [Tracy] who has coached me since I was little. Relying on them to get through it mentally.”
The weight of weighing
Brown was asked what he feels has been the biggest thing for him to overcome so far this season.
“Really, it’s been me not dieting right and that leaves me cutting too much on the day of the meet,” Brown said. “That’s all there is to it, I just need to get a better diet.”
Coal City coach Mark Masters said Brown going from 120 pounds as a junior to 132 pounds as a senior is a logical transition for him
“He’s fine at 132. A lot of it is getting used to it,” Masters said. “Your body getting acclimated to the weight you are at. All the kids go through that.”
Brown is certified at 132 this year where he is rated fourth by Illinoismatmen.com. Alber, Friese and Warsaw’s Jack Lucie – a fifth place finisher a year ago at 126 are ahead of him.
“That is something that only he can control,” Masters said of the dieting issue. “That’s something as coaches we can’t help him with – what he does when he’s at home. He’s got to be a little more focused there.”
Working on through
As far as the technical aspect of the sport, Brown said simply that he’s working on his approach in the same way he has all along – no changes there.
“I’m just sticking to what I usually do … working on my takedowns,” he said. “I need to work on that.”
Masters said, all things considered, Brown has what it takes to meet the expectations this year.
“It happens to all the state qualifiers throughout Illinois,” Masters said. “Those kids put a lot of pressure on themselves. Do they want to win? Absolutely. Especially as a senior, you want to win. That’s every kid, not just my three guys that finished second last year. It’s a goal that gets set right off the bat because it’s a realistic goal. It’s not like a JV kid saying ‘I want to be a state champ this year’ because that’s unrealistic.
“Can Casey win it? Yeah. If he puts his mind to it and wrestles a really good tournament like he did last year, anything can happen.”