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Tom Mix, Published February 12 2014

Central Cass' Austin Rust sets sights on second ND Class B wrestling title

Casselton, N.D.

Central Cass senior wrestler Austin Rust doesn’t take anything for granted on the mat.

In his time competing with the Squirrels, Rust has needed to be both persistent and patient, virtues that have made him one of the top wrestlers in North Dakota Class B.

Rust won the 106-pound individual state championship last season in his first full year as a varsity grappler, and today he starts his quest for a second title at the Bismarck Civic Center.

“(Last year’s championship) has given me motivation to keep working hard and try to do the same thing this year,” said Rust, who is the top seed at 113 pounds.

Rust has been wrestling since elementary school, but his ascension in the sport has not come without roadblocks.

“Austin has always been a very talented kid,” Central Cass head coach Travis Lemar said. “His biggest problem is he has always been small. He weighed 85, 90 pounds when he came in, and he wasn’t growing.”

There was not much Rust could do except refine his skills and hit the mat as an underdog.

“I wasn’t really expected to do that much,” Rust said. “Earlier in my career, I was wrestling 103 at 85 pounds and won a few matches. I was proud of that because I knew when I got up to the weight class and I was actually weighing it, I would do a lot better.”

By the time his freshman season concluded, Rust appeared to be a favorite to wrestle at 106 pounds for the Squirrels as a sophomore, until another force out of his control detoured his path.

Sawyer Blumhardt – a 106-pound standout – transferred to Central Cass from Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm, making Rust the challenger once again. Only this time, the challenge came from his own team.

Blumhardt entered state as the top seed at 106, and had Rust been allowed to wrestle unattached, he would have likely been seeded No. 2.

“That would have been cool, but they do not allow that in Class B,” Rust said.

“That really helped him because it gave him another really good practice partner to wrestle with,” Lemar added. “It also gave him that much more drive to make sure that no matter what, nobody was going to take that spot from him the next season. Ever since then he has been a great worker and a great team leader for us.”

Rust, who also competes in cross country, baseball and track and field, has only lost five matches the last two seasons and enters state with a 38-3 record. All three of his losses came at the Rumble on the Red tournament.

“I have to wrestle smart and wrestle my style,” Rust said of the state tournament. “I can’t push the pace any more than I do normally.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562