Coleman Brainard's final trip to State over the weekend started with a spectacular first day and a half. The Rolla senior won his first round match, before winning his second in an ultimate tiebreaker. He needed just one more win to get the chance to wrestle for the second State Championship in school history. The win came, but unfortunately the chance to stand atop the podium did not.
Brainard's trip to the State Championship was an uneven road. After winning with a 17-2 tech fall in the first round, the Rolla senior had a tough matchup against Grain Valley's Mitchell Alexander in the second round.
Points were hard to come by in Brainard's second round matchup. The first period ended in a scoreless tie, before Brainard got an escape in the second period. The Rolla senior just needed to hold onto Alexander to get the win, but Grain Valley's 138 snuck away in the third to force overtime. The first overtime was scoreless, before each wrestler got an escape in the second overtime. With the match tied at two, it all came down to a third OT for an ultimate tiebreaker. Brainard started the overtime down, so he needed to at least get his third escape of the match to win. He outdid himself when he pulled out a reverse and stuck Alexander on his back for a 7-2 win.
"I just stayed in good position and held out strong," said Brainard. "I was able to get the reversal and the cradle in the overtime to win it."
Friday's semi-final match with Liberty's Christian Ziek started off as a great match. Ziek was able to get a takedown in the first period, but Brainard responded with an escape to keep the match close at 2-1. That's when everything went wrong. Ziek lifted the Rolla senior and slammed him into the ground and Brainard went limp. After a few very scary minutes, Brainard was moving, but that's not a moment that head coach Marty Hauck ever wants to see again.
"It scared me to death," said Hauck. "You love these kids and I love that kid to death. You spend as much time with him as I have, the sport kind of went away for a minute. I didn't think about it, it was just about him and the rest of his life."
The officials determined that Ziek's move that sent Brainard to the mat was illegal, so the Rolla senior won by default. While there was some hope that Brainard would get a chance to wrestle for the championship, that thought didn't last for long. Rolla determined before the night was through that Brainard would go out and shake hands with Rockwood Summit's Sam Frankowski and take second place. Telling Brainard that he'd be forced to miss his chance at State was yet another tough moment for coach Hauck on Friday.
"It just breaks your heart, because I had to be the one to tell him that his dream of being a State Champion in high school was over," said Hauck. "I got to be that guy and that's a hard job."
Brainard was disappointed that he wasn't going to get the chance to wrestle, but he tried to take the news in stride.
"I'm still getting used to that. I worked so hard and not being able to try to go out there and wrestle is kinda heartbreaking, but I'll move on eventually," said the Rolla senior. "It'll get better."
And it did get a little better. When it came time to wrestle the championship match, Brainard and Frankowski walked out as planned and shook hands. Brainard then turned around to shake hands with the Rockwood Summit coaching staff, but Frankowski stayed at the middle of the mat. When Brainard turned around, the now two-time State Champ brought the Rolla senior back to the middle of the mat. Frankowski lifted Brainard's hand and presented him to the crowd in a sign of true sportsmanship unlike any seen over the weekend.
While Brainard wished he had the chance to win a State Title, he walked away with another piece of Rolla history. Brainard is the second four-time State medalist and first four-time Academic All-Stater in school history. Brainard now has a pair of second place finishes, as he also reached the championship match as a freshman, a third place finish and a sixth place finish. He'll also leave Rolla as the all-time wins and pins leader. He's happy to leave with so many accomplishments, but he's looking forward to seeing some of the younger kids break some of those records.
"It's awesome. Just setting these records for hopefully people below me to try to chase after," said Brainard. "Records are made to be broken. Hopefully that comes as our program keeps growing."
Brainard has more than left his mark on Rolla wrestling and coach Hauck knows his impact will still be felt for years to come.
"His accolades are phenomenal, they're through the charts," said Hauck. "What he's done for the program, you can't put a price tag on or a value on. The other kids see the hard work that he's done, the dedication that he's shown."