Reporting John Lauritsen
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) – Tyus Jones is one of the most talked-about high school basketball players in Minnesota, and his wrestling equivalent may be St. Cloud Apollo’s Mitch Bengston.
Bengston is just a junior and has an unthinkable win streak going.
“I didn’t take it very well right away as a kid. I never wanted to lose,” he said.
To solve that proble, Bengtson began to win, win and win some more, and he hasn’t stopped. He’s a junior who hasn’t lost since the second match of his eighth grade year. And he’s beaten that wrestler since then. He’s a three-time state champion who will be looking for his fourth state title in 2012.
“It’s incredible, he never stops. It’s like wrestling with a machine,” said Grant Dullinger, Bengston’s teammate.
Dullinger is a two-time state entrant and one of Bengston’s best friends. They practice a lot together, which is good and bad for Dullinger. It makes him better, but it also wears him out.
“He keeps coming at you harder and harder. He gets better as the match goes on. As tired as you can get, he just keeps going,” Dullinger said.
Nothing highlights that better than the state record Bengston broke in December. At a tournament in Big Lake, he pinned all three of his opponents. The last pin marked his 142nd consecutive win. That broke a state record that had been held for 10 years.
Bengston now has 156 straight wins and counting, and he’s still got one year left. He’s got a good chance to add to a record that’s already tough to beat.
A streak that’s even more important to Bengston is winning a fourth straight state title this year and a fifth as a senior. Only four wrestlers in state history have won five state titles. Bengston’s most memorable win may have been his first state title as an eighth grader.
“My first time was very special. It took a lot of hard work and it meant a lot,” Bengston said.
For Mitch’s dad Tim, who is also his head coach, state championships and state records were never the goal. It’s always been about improving and developing moves and technique on the mat.
Mitch works hard and wrestles nearly year round. But the Bengtson’s don’t celebrate what’s happening now, they just focus on what’s about to happen next.
“When he’s done wrestling, we can look back and say ‘Hey, look at what you’ve done,’” said Tim Bengston, Mitch’s dad and coach.
Both Tim and Mitch want to make it clear, that a lot of Mitch’s success can be attributed to his teammates at St. Cloud Apollo and how they push him every day. Mitch plans on wrestling in college, but is far from decided on which school he’ll attend.