Quinten Christensen ran into his coaches arms after clinching the Class B 285-pound state championship.
The Wessington Springs/Woonsocket/Wolsey-Wessington junior called the moments after pinning Winner Area’s Achilles Willuweit in overtime “exhilarating,” smiling big enough to light up the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on Saturday as he embraced his coaches.
“It’s something you dream about and you work toward, but once the feeling hits, it’s way different than you ever expected,” Christensen said.
Christensen’s relationship with the WSWWW coaching staff is unique. Head coach Kevin Haider and assistant Adam Haake double as his sparring partner in practice, with Christensen jumping from 220 pounds to 285 this season.
Wrestling his coaches, who “beat the crap out of me,” led to Christensen standing on top of the podium at the state tournament. Last week was the first time he took down Haake, and now he’s a state champ.
“Right after (third at last year’s state tournament) my coaches were like, ‘Well, we’re not going to shoot for second, so might as well go for the championship,’ ” Christensen said. “I progressed and got a lot better. Wrestling both of my coaches, they’re great partners. I just got a lot better and it’s all because of them.”
Christensen hovered around 210-215 pounds last year, but grew to 230 pounds during football season. He didn’t want to lose weight, so instead tried to put on extra muscle to increase to 240 pounds.
Even in a heavier weight class, he became the No. 1 seed in the state tournament, finishing 38-1 with three pins this week. He also won the Region 3B tournament on Feb. 20, which also saw him narrowly defeat Willuweit and give him a blueprint for the title match.
“I was trying to hit that single leg, underhook to a shot the whole match. That was my best chance of taking him down I thought,” Christensen said. “I was going to stick with it until I did it. And once I got him on his back, I knew I secured the win, but getting the pin made it that much better.”