Apollo junior: 176-0 and counting

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 1, 2012 - 12:54 AM

Mitch Bengtson has the longest winning streak in state history. He has not lost since the second match of his eighth-grade season.

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Mitch Bengtson of St. Cloud Apollo, right, defeated Sam Brancale of Eden Prairie 1-0 in the semifinals en route to winning last year’s Class 3A individual title at 119 pounds. Bengtson is in the 126 class this year.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

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As the victories have piled up, so have the inquiries around St. Cloud Apollo High School. And the answer is always the same.

"I get asked all the time, 'When's Mitch wrestling? We want to see Mitch,'" Eagles wrestling coach Tim Bengtson said of his son, the team's 126-pound junior stalwart. "And I tell them if they're just coming to see Mitch, they're not getting their money's worth."

Short matches have become Mitch Bengtson's thing, often with the same end result.

Make that, always.

Bengtson first stepped onto a varsity mat as a seventh-grader, finishing the season as the state's fifth-place wrestler in Class 3A at 103 pounds. He lost the second match of his eighth-grade year the next December, then figured that was quite enough, thank you very much.

He's 176-0 since, by far a state record for consecutive victories heading into this week's state tournament at Xcel Energy Center. He passed the previous state mark of 141 in a row early this season and barely stopped to cherish the moment.

"I don't know if something like this was ever his goal," Tim Bengtson said. "He's just never liked to lose, even all the way back to youth wrestling. And when he has lost, he's handled it very, very well. But he likes to win."

Mitch Bengtson certainly has done plenty of it, and in grand fashion.

His 218-5 career record includes 158 pins and a trio of state titles (at 103, 112 and 119 pounds). En route to those three championships, Bengtson has surrendered more than two points in the individual portion of the state tournament only once: as an eighth-grader in a 6-4 overtime victory in the opening round. He has allowed four points in the other 11 matches.

"Some people party and stuff like that; I want to wrestle," Bengtson said. "And I'm always wanting more."

Bengtson is ranked No. 8 nationally at 126 pounds by InterMat. He works out three times a day and, reluctantly, runs on the Apollo cross- country team in the fall for added conditioning.

"It isn't really my thing," he said. "But it gets me in good shape. I'll do anything to win. I can't afford to think about anything else."

That includes his impressive winning streak, which Bengtson shrugs off like a measly attempt at a takedown by an inferior opponent.

"He isn't a guy who rides the roller coaster of emotions," Tim Bengston said. "He's taken care of business. He's quite strong for his size, and when he wants to crunch somebody, he usually has his way."

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