Patrick Ramirez prepares for his match against Zumbrota Mazzepa on Thursday at home. Patrick went on to win by fall, making his 99th win. He went on to win against a K-M opponent for his 100th victory. Photo by Chuck Rhodes
By Ruth Hanson
When the wrestling meet at Triton on January 30 was all over, many of the fans stopped to talk to Patrick Ramirez.
It was easy to figure out why.
"Congratulations!" many of them said. "One hundred wins. Wow!"
"Even the Kasson coach congratulated me," he said.
One hundred wins is the goal of many young wrestlers, but it is one that is seldom reached.
"Growing up, I never thought I would reach that milestone," he said.
Patrick had older brothers who wrestled, but he didn't wrestle until he was in third grade.
"I was in a youth program at Triton, but I didn't know anything," he said. "I was really intimidated. I hadn't done any sports before that, but both of my brothers - Michael and Kevin - were wrestlers and that influenced me."
As a fourth grader he would go to practice and the sport grew on him. He learned how to put kids in a cradle and to do a double leg take down.
"I would just go out and do the double leg take down and try to keep the other guy down," he said. "I'd take him down and let him up and then do it again."
He weighed 80 pounds as a seventh grader - not heavy enough to wrestle varsity, but he did lots of junior varsity.
"I had the best wrestling partner in the world," he said. "Seth Johnson and I were both seventh graders and had been best friends since third grade. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today. It is sad not to have him in the wrestling room this year. He broke his wrist in football. We used to tear each other up. We were competitive at all times as if our lives depended on it. It was an honor to have him as a wrestling partner."
He said that Shane van Beek, the wrestling coach, is like an older brother to the boys on the team and that he was a top wrestler in his day.
"He stays loyal to the team," he said. "He always has Lucas (Etcheson) and my backs."
Patrick credits his success - a 23-4 record this year and near misses in going to the state miss the last two years - to 50 percent Seth and 50 percent himself.
"You are only as good as your wrestling partner pushes you to be," he said.
This year Gavin Bowman, a sophomore, is his wrestling partner. Patrick says he tries to help Gavin and that he has heart and doesn't give up.
"My favorite sport is soccer," he said. "But I wanted to stay at Triton, so I wrestle. Mr. Joyce cares about kids and is always visible. He is someone to talk to. He watches out for kids and keeps them out of trouble. I think he is going to be a good superintendent."
There are two more regular meets this year. This Thursday is the last home meet and is Senior Night. Friday the Cobra wrestlers travel to Goodhue for a triangular with Goodhue and Pine Island.
The next two weekends are the team tournament and then the individual tournament, which are qualifying meets for the state meet.
"I think Lucas could be a state champion, the way he wrestles," he said.
He paused a minute and then added that he had made a few mistakes in the matches that he lost, "and I'm fixing them."
He said that his mom is his best fan and he can hear her screaming during his matches.
"She gets nervous," he said. "My dad isn't crazy about wrestling, but he likes to see me succeed."
He added that cutting weight is tough, but he tells himself that it's going to be worth it when he makes weight.
"Mental toughness is the hardest thing about wrestling," he said. "You have to be really tough in the mind, especially since it is such a long season. You have to be really committed. But wrestling is really fun, especially when you see yourself progressing and winning - knowing how to do something that you didn't do before. Getting to the hundredth win shows that my hard work has been paying off. After the season is over, I will figure out where I am going to go to college and probably study music."