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Baumgartner earns 100th win

Ben Baumgartner (left) went in for a takedown against New York Mills' Andrew Perala during their 138-pound match last Tuesday. Baumgartner prevailed 13-6 for his 100th career victory.

It was evident from his first varsity match that Ben Baumgartner had the potential to be one of the best wrestlers in Park Rapids history.

Baumgartner made his varsity debut in a triangular meet with United North Central and Blackduck/Cass Lake-Bena as a seventh grader in December of 2009. Baumgartner pinned his first opponent at 103 pounds and moved up to 112 pounds and recorded another pin as the Panthers won both matches.

Since those first two matches, Baumgartner has continued to rack up the wins.

Last Tuesday night, Baumgartner reached a milestone by winning his 100th career match. Baumgartner led 2-0 entering the third period before five takedowns led to a 13-8 minor decision over New York Mills' Andrew Perala in a 138-pound match.

"I knew I'd get to 100 since I had six years to do it. I thought I might get it last year, but I lost some matches I thought I should have won," said Baumgartner. "I win by my conditioning and mental ability. I just keep going and try to wear people out."

That strategy helped Baumgartner become only the 12th Park Rapids wrestler to reach 100 wins. In only his fourth match as a sophomore, Baumgartner reached that milestone the fastest.

In his first varsity season, Baumgartner went 26-13 with 13 pins and just missed qualifying for the state tournament by placing third at 103 at the section tournament.

As an eighth grader, Baumgartner went 30-4 with 20 pins and again contended for a state berth by placing third at 112 at the section tournament. Baumgartner won the Mid-State Conference title at 112.

Last season, Baumgartner continued to improve, going 40-7 with 23 pins and winning the section title at 120 to earn his first state trip. Baumgartner brought home a state medal by placing sixth in his state debut.

Baumgartner opened this season with a 4-0 record to reach the milestone and join Tyler Safratowich (146 wins), Colter Uscola (138), Mike Jacobson (137), Joey Meinert (137), Eric Niemi (132), Nate Clark (119), J.T. Clark (116), Steve Offerdahl (105), Brandon Gruchow (105), Mark Costello (104) and Jared Nash (102) on that list.

After reaching 100 wins, Baumgartner is looking to become the school's all-time leader in wins and become the first Park Rapids wrestler to record 100 pins.

"I want to get 200 wins and 100 pins, so I'm halfway there," said Baumgartner, who has a 100-24 overall record with 56 pins. "I want to go to state again this year and place better than sixth. Winning a state title would be nice."