At first glance, one could easily mistake Park wrestler Cory Flaata for his older brother, Jared. And that wouldn’t bother him at all.
The younger Flaata grew up idolizing his older sibling by five years. Jared was a three-time state entrant and all-state wrestler for the Wolfpack. This past week, Cory became the second Flaata to earn all-state honors, taking sixth place in the Class 3A state tournament.
“I just thought he was a god and was also my inspiration,” Cory Flaata said of his brother. “To make it as far as he did was quite an accomplishment.”
Cory Flaata said “words can’t describe” how important his older brother is to him.
“He supports me with everything I do,” he said. “If I’m ever troubled and need someone to talk to, he’s the first one I call, both athletically and academically. He helps me a lot.”
Cory Flaata, a senior, went 38-7 this season and surpassed his older brother’s career victory total at Park. Cory compiled 130 victories in his four-year varsity career, putting him third on the Wolfpack’s all-time list. He earned all-conference in the Suburban East three times and was all-state and all-academic four times.
Park coach Jim LaBrosse, who just finished his 11th season leading the Wolfpack, said he knew Cory Flaata was going to be a good wrestler the first time he saw him.
“He’s built just like his older brother,” said LaBrosse, who also wrestled for Park. “He looked like him and he wrestled like him. They both have great work ethics, are great students and great kids. I know his parents are proud to have two all-state wrestlers.”
Stuck in a difficult Section 3 with perennial powerhouse Apple Valley, Cory Flaata narrowly missed out on the state tournament in his sophomore and junior years. He took third place in the section both seasons, losing by just one point in both of his battles for second place and a state berth. This year Flaata, who entered the section tournament ranked seventh, earned second place, losing only to five-time state champion Mark Hall in the finals.
“It was extremely important for me to make it to this one, especially with the past years only missing it by one point,” Flaata said. “Ever since I’ve started wrestling with the high school program, it’s been an absolute dream for me to try to make it there. To actually make it there was unbelievable.”
At state Flaata bounced back from a first-round loss to St. Michael-Albertville’s Evan Ronsen, who ended up taking second place to Hall, and won a pair of matches to earn a trip to the podium with a sixth-place finish in the 170-pound bracket.
Cory said his brother Jared was there every step of the way.
“Before every match, he’d say ‘just to let you know I love you, no matter what happens, I still love you.’ That’s obviously very special for me,” he said.
Cory Flaata, who plans to go to St. Cloud State to wrestle and to study to be a teacher, began wrestling in second grade. He said it took him about four years to win his first match. But things started to click for him in eighth grade, and he discovered wrestling was the sport for him.
“It’s a love-hate relationship,” he said. “With conditioning, I hate it, but I love it at the same time, because I know it makes me better. It also teaches life skills like responsibility, commitment, hard work and respect. I know those skills will carry on for the rest of my life.”
LaBrosse said Flaata will be missed at Park.
“He’s got bigger things ahead of him, but those are the types of kids you don’t want to see go,” LaBrosse said. “He’ll do anything you ask. He does all the right things. He was a great captain and a great leader. He led by example and was a great role model. You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”