In 3A at 152 poutnds, Brenden Olevson of Chanhassen following his In 3A 152 poutnds win over Travis White of Northfield during the Minnesota State Wrestling tournament for 1A, 2A and 3A at the Xcel Energy Center Friday, Feb. 26, in 2016, in St. Paul, MN.
The T-shirt, dark blue with Stormhawks Wrestling emblazoned across the front, is worn. The lettering is faded and there’s a large scar across the back, where a rip has been repaired. It’s a prized possession of Chaska/Chanhassen senior 152-pounder Brenden Olevson. He wears it before every match despite the fact that he’s had it since seventh grade. If Olevson has his way, it will retire when he does, at the conclusion of the wrestling state meet, hopefully adorning a state champion.
When he was in seventh grade, he and close friend Ethan Herman were wrestling buddies. Herman died in a suicide that year, leaving Olevson with a huge void to fill. “We got the T-shirts together that year,” Olevson said. “I’ve worn it to every match since.”
Despite his undefeated record (41-0) and more than 200 career victories, Olevson is not a household name in wrestling circles. He is one of the few wrestlers who doesn’t compete outside of high school.
“I’ve never done freestyle or [Greco-Roman],” he said. “I just train and run.”
After winning twice Friday, Olevson is two victories from a state title. But the route isn’t easy. Among those left in the Class 3A 152-pound bracket are top-ranked Jake Allar of St. Michael-Albertville and Brock Morgan of Apple Valley.
Olevson knows his route to success is different from other wrestlers, but he feels his dedication to training more than makes up for a lack of year-round wrestling experience. Olevson is known for his jaw-dropping workouts, which have included running long distances with a backpack loaded with rocks.
“I was out training one day, and I thought, ‘I feel pretty good,’ ” he said. “So I put a bunch of rocks in my backpack, about 40 pounds, and ran. I went about 26 miles that day.”
No matter what happens Saturday, Olevson said, he will hang up his wrestling shoes when it’s over.
“I’ve got some back problems, so this is it,” he said. “Winning a state championship for Ethan has been the goal the whole time.”
Thursday night was not the best showing for St. Michael-Albertville senior 182-pounder Lucas Jeske. Ranked No. 1 at his weight, Jeske was pinned by Apple Valley’s Mark Hall in the Class 3A team finals. Frustrated, Jeske — who is headed to Minnesota on a scholarship — tossed his headgear behind him after the loss and it slid across an adjacent mat, which cost the team a point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“Obviously, that wasn’t what I wanted people to remember about me,” he said after advancing to Saturday’s semifinals with pins in the first two rounds. “I don’t want that to be the image of me. I didn’t talk about that at all. I just want to go out there and show people what I’m really about.”
Rogers heavyweight Andrew Piehl improved to 41-0 by pinning both of his opponents Friday. As a dominant heavyweight, Piehl was sought after by Minnesota and Wisconsin. He rejected scholarship offers from both and chose instead to wrestle for the U.S. Naval Academy.
“Minnesota just didn’t feel right, and I didn’t want to go just anywhere,” he said. “Navy seemed like the place I wanted to be.”
Piehl said he plans to become a Marine or fly big planes once he finishes his academic and wrestling career. Being an athlete at a U.S. military academy is a daunting task, but he feels prepared.
“Wrestling pushes you to your limits and I feel that’s prepared me,” he said.
Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737
2015 champions who are alive in championship brackets. Last year’s championship weight in parentheses:
120: Peyton Robb, Owatonna (106); Rylee Molitor, Sartell (113)
126: Brent Jones, Shakopee (120)
132: Adam Hedin, Rosemount (132)
138: Mitchell McKee, St. Michael-Albertville (126)
170: Mark Hall, Apple Valley (170)
182: Lucas Jeske, St. Michael-Albertville (152)
220: Gable Steveson, Apple Valley (220)
106: Aaron Cashman, Mound Westonka, 42-0
113: Dylan Droegemueller, Champlin Park, 40-0
138: Mitchell McKee, St. Michael-Albertville, 47-0
152: Brenden Olevson, Chaska/Chanhassen, 41-0
170: Mark Hall, Apple Valley, 46-0
220: Gable Steveson, Apple Valley, 44-0
285: Andrew Piehl, Rogers, 41-0