Brett Velasquez can look back now and laugh at that old goal sheet.
Back then, before his first season in high school wrestling, the Bennington standout was just looking for a medal at state.
“At that point, I let him know that he should really set his goals a little higher,” Badgers coach Alan Pokorny said. “I think Brett and his parents were a little surprised that I was telling them that. But he had the ability in him to do it.”
What Pokorny saw early is what everyone else has been seeing the last three seasons.
Velasquez enters the state wrestling tournament with two state titles. A successful three days at the CenturyLink Center could put him in position next season to join the exclusive club of four-time state champions.
He would become Bennington’s second four-time winner, something only two other schools can claim.
First things first. Velasquez has an opening-round match Thursday against Lexington’s Alam Alvarez, ranked sixth at 120.
Pokorny describes Velasquez as “very aggressive.” Often times when he was learning the sport, he would win by simply tiring out his opponent.
“He even wore himself out he would go so hard,” Pokorny said. “He just never stops wrestling, is constantly moving. He’s got such a high motor on him. I didn’t want to tame that down, but we needed to work on his technique.”
That’s been a point of emphasis since Velasquez got to high school. Last fall he went to a couple of national tournaments and had some success. Staying in good position, setting up takedowns and better conditioning are things he said he came away with from the extra time on the mat.
“I’ve seen it make a difference,” Velasquez said.
At last year’s state tournament, Velasquez won in overtime to claim the 113-pound title. His freshman crown came at 103.
He’s already broken the school record for wins in a season with 41. Four more victories this week would put him with Andy Pokorny and Brett Allgood as three-time winners for the Badgers.
Allgood capped an unbeaten career with his fourth title in 2002. Pokorny, the coach’s son, is ranked No. 1 at his weight class at the Division II collegiate level.
“It’s a pretty cool deal,” Alan Pokorny said of the possibility of adding another four-time winner to Bennington’s record books. “They’re special to have. Four is tough. But we’ve got this season to finish and a whole other one after that.”
That’s a lesson Velasquez said he’s learned through a couple of slip-ups over the last two seasons. The only loss this year was a 1-0 setback at a dual tournament in Iowa to a wrestler from Minnesota.
His lone loss last season came in the district finals to JT Sloboth of Skutt. Velasquez beat Sloboth in overtime in the state finals one week later.
“You’ve got to be 100 percent into every match or you can get beat,” he said. “I’ve thought about (four state titles). It would be great to be up there with Allgood. But right now, the focus is to get to three and then continue to keep improving.”
Contact the writer:
402-850-0781, email@example.com, twitter.com/nickrubek