If you've been around Rolla wrestling over the last four seasons, there's no doubt that you've heard the name Coleman Brainard.
Rolla's 138-pounder is on the verge of being the most prolific wrestler in school history and he already has some of the records to prove it. Brainard has the school record for pins in a career with 103 and set the record for career wins earlier this season, surpassing Tristan Barr's record of 162 at the Platte County Invitational back on Friday, Jan. 19. Brainard's record currently sits at 170 wins. The Bulldog captain spent his first three season wrestling with Barr and was on the team when he set the school record last season. He said that watching Barr set the record at State in 2017 made that record seem like a more attainable goal.
"It definitely made me realize it was something I can accomplish," said Brainard of watching Barr set the wins record. "Honestly, before Tristan set it, I didn't know how many wins were at Rolla. All I knew was that Blayne Shockley definitely had a lot, but I never would've known how many he had and what the record was."
Brainard's record-setting day was special for more than his 163rd victory. Right after setting the new school record, he had the chance to face off against the defending State Champ at 138 and the top ranked wrestler in that weight class, Sam Frankowski of Rockwood Summit. Brainard went in and pulled out a 2-1 win in overtime to round out a phenomenal day.
"It was awesome...after my first match on Friday it was like good job, we got it, lets focus on that number one guy and set my mind to it. I ended up beating him," said the Rolla senior. "It was an awesome match to experience and everything like that, to finally wrestle someone like that."
But Brainard hasn't just been racking up the wins during the regular season. He's also a three-time State placer and three-time Academic All-State. As a freshman, he took second in the State, following it up with a third place finish as a sophomore. Brainard fought through an injury last season to make it back on the podium in sixth place. He'll be looking to make it a perfect 4-4 on the medal stand at State in a couple of weeks, as he'll attempt to qualify for State yet again this coming weekend at Carthage, before the State Tournament starts on Thursday, Feb. 15.
While Brainard has had a mountain of success on the mat throughout his career, you're not going to see him staring down many opponents with angry intensity. The Rolla senior likes to keep things light pretty much at all times, joking with his teammates during matches and tournaments. Brainard isn't the biggest fan of unnecessary pressure.
"I try to keep everybody laid back, play some jokes with them and everything. I don't like it when everybody is all nervous and jittery," said Brainard. "That happens, obviously, when you have a big match coming up, but I just wanna keep a laid back atmosphere and I do it the best I can."
Brainard's trek to the school record in wins was paved by that laid back attitude. Four years ago, he was a freshman wrestling at 106 for then head coach Mark Sells. He's grown up a lot over the years both physically and mentally, spending the last three seasons under current head coach Marty Hauck. While those two coaches always wanted him to succeed on the mat, neither of them put too much pressure on his win total during the season, so he could just go out and do this thing.
"They both wanted me to succeed in the sport. They wanted me to win, but they also wanted me to grow in the sport," said the Rolla senior captain. "They didn't care as much about the regular season, they wanted me to win at Districts and State, so I didn't feel any pressure from them that I needed to win this certain match in the middle of the season. Not having that pressure on me has definitely helped wrestling during the regular season, racking up all the wins because I didn't feel any pressure on it."
Any time you mention the name Coleman Brainard to coach Hauck, only positive things come out of his mouth. Brainard has been a staple at Rolla since the current head coach walked in the door three years ago and he's proud of everything his senior captain has accomplished.
"You can't put a price tag on that kid. His character speaks volumes and you look at his four years here and how much he's grown. He's been a captain for a majority of those years and obviously that shows he's a leader," said coach Hauck. "His value in the room, I mean he's great with everybody from the brand new kids who need the experience. He can wrestle with us all and teach us all daily and that's what you want to see and that's what this sport is about."
Brainard has spent his entire high school career not worrying about pressure and he's taking that same approach with him as prepares for one final trip to State. Obviously Brainard would love to be the second wrestler in school history behind Blayne Shockley to be a State Champion and a four-time State placer, but he's just worried about wrestling his best. The wins will continue to come and hard work will continue to pay off.
"I'm trying not to put any pressure on myself, because I feel like if I wrestle to my ability, good things will come and I will place and will win State eventually," said Brainard. "I'm trying not to really think about it, I'm just taking it one day at a time and improve every day through practice up through Districts and State."
Brainard wrestled at 145 at the Ozark Conference Tournament this weekend, taking home a second place finish to bring his career record to 170-19. He and the Bulldogs will head down to Carthage on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9-10 for Districts and the final test before State. As for his career after high school, Brainard has some options on the table, but that decision will come after State.