Caleb Butler of Blaine is the defending Class 3A, Section 7 champion wrestler in the 220-pound weight class. The junior, undefeated this season, will begin his pursuit of another individual title Friday.
While Butler said his team, which failed to advance in last weekend's section tournament, is still "up-and-coming," he said he wants to win an individual state championship before graduation.
How does it feel to be undefeated? It feels really good, but still, like other seasons, I always think that anybody can beat me at any given point in the day. Because someone could have a good day and someone could have a bad day.
Do you think you can retain your section title? I'm feeling prepared but still anxious. ... Individually, I really want to be section champ again but there's two tough wrestlers.
What about the state championships? I really want to place at state this year. My goal is first, but who doesn't want first as a wrestler?
Why do you like wrestling? The competition, because it's you on the mat and only you. You can't blame anyone else but yourself. And that if you start to lose, you can actually pick yourself up and it's more of you beating yourself when you lose instead of the other person beating you.
You play football, too. Which is your favorite sport? I can't really tell one above the other, unless I'm in the other season. So for right now wrestling's better and when I'm in football season, football's better.
Football or wrestling in college? Whatever school offers the better scholarship for whatever sport. And if they're tied, probably I'd go to football because you can go to the NFL also, instead of trying to go the Olympics, which was recently cut.
What do you think about cutting wrestling from the Olympics? I think that they shouldn't have cut one of the original sports from the Olympics ... but keeping the sport that I read up today is the pentathlon, where it's horseback riding, swimming, shooting and running. And not many other people have heard of that. And this last year the stands were packed for wrestling but they're still cutting it.
Will it discourage young wrestlers from continuing with the sport? I think it'll affect a lot of wrestlers. ... Instead of having Olympic, national champion, you can only be the NCAA champ now. It's a huge step from being world champion to college champion.
Dream school? I would say the University of Minnesota because I live in Minnesota. I like the temperature around here. And they have a great wrestling program and a really good engineering program. And with football, you can get recognized from any school.
Goals next year for both sports? For wrestling, I would really try my hardest ... to be state champ. And then with football, I would like to be the Gatorade Player of the Year or something along those lines.
What's your nickname on the wrestling team? When I had my hand taped and I had my thumb taped to my hand, I was Captain Hook because I'm wrestling captain.
Megan Ryan is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.