A quick fix: Overcoming struggles, Jamestown’s Braun has thrivedZane Braun knew the problem — it had been diagnosed by everyone, including his opponents. The Jamestown High School wrestler struggled with takedowns early his career and despite his ability to work from the top, he wasn’t succeeding against top competition.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Zane Braun knew the problem — it had been diagnosed by everyone, including his opponents.
The Jamestown High School wrestler struggled with takedowns early his career and despite his ability to work from the top, he wasn’t succeeding against top competition.
“He had almost no takedown ability and he couldn’t stop a takedown either,” Jamestown coach Greg White recalled. “Opponents figured that out. Once he got you on the mat, you were in trouble. But they’d just take him down and let him go. All of a sudden, he wasn’t winning matches.”
He had finished his sophomore campaign with a personal-best 28 wins and a sixth-place finish at the Class A state tournament. But according to White, his true potential lay in the weeds.
And Braun took it to heart, dedicating the entire summer to fixing what had hindered him for three varsity seasons.
“I got up every morning at 5 a.m. and wrestled with a buddy,” Braun said. “It was tough right away, getting the footwork down. We’d go two, three, sometimes four mornings a week. Wrestle and lift, that’s about it.”
With the help of his father and friends, Braun showed steady improvement. By the time his junior season came about, the problem was in the past.
“With hard work and dedication, we turned it around and were able to get the job done,” Braun said. “I was finally able to get more takedowns with different shots I could use.”
White said the credit goes to Braun’s inner drive.
“I don’t want to take credit here; he really started on his own,” White said. “He went to camps to make it better and did extra workouts. He knew it was a weakness, and he went to work on it. The credit goes to him.”
Braun followed with a stout 39-6 record at 152 pounds, taking his No. 5 seed all the way to the state finals after “upsetting” top-seeded Eddie Maisey of Williston by 17-2 technical fall. He won his next match over Grand Forks Central’s Bryce Fish by injury default to capture his first state title.
Braun said losing to Maisey in the region finals jolted him.
“I just got into the zone,” Braun said. “I did what needed to be done. I wouldn’t let anything get in my way.”
He clearly made an impression on his coach.
“I’ll tell anybody listening that I’ve never seen anybody take it to another level (like he did at state),” White said. “His semifinal and finals opponents could hardly walk off the mat. It was just a step above anything else he’s done in his career.”
With another season has come another strong performance from Braun, who is 33-0 and has a chance to move into second place on the school’s all-time wins list. He needs three wins to pass Nick Olson (128). Danny White, Greg’s son, has the all-time mark at 149.
If he can make the finals, he will have achieved the mark. Braun is seeded No. 1 and the first step toward a second championship is opening-round opponent Logan Usher of Williston on Thursday at the Fargodome. On the opposite side of the bracket is Fish, who is seeded second. Braun beat him 3-1 in overtime for the Bismarck Rotary title in early January.
Braun is also looking to become only the fourth wrestler in school history to win two titles. A championship would put him in the company of Clay Kendall (1973-74), Danny White (2001, 2003) and Robert Regan (2007-08). The Blue Jays do not have a three-time state champion.
To win the title, Braun will try to channel the same work ethic he used to overcome his problem with takedowns, and he’ll likely go after it just as hard, leaning on dedication and will power.
“You have to push yourself above and beyond and be mentally tough,” Braun said. “It’s a whole other level of toughness.”
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8462 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org