By Madeline Carino
WKAR CURRENT SPORTS
EAST LANSING – The only focus for East Lansing senior wrestler Brian Darios is to win a state championship. In 2014, he set the school record for most pins in a season (32) and was a state runner-up. Numerous injuries have kept him off the mat this year, but his determination hasn’t wavered.
The four-year starter won this season’s first match, on Dec. 11, for the 285 pound class. Soon after, he suffered his second concussion in two months, taking him out for about three weeks. He returned the start of January, but then a high ankle sprain forced him to sit again for another month.
“My coaches always joke that I can’t make anything easy, and this year I had to make it hard for myself,” Darios said.
Valentine’s Day weekend was the District playoffs, and Darios’ first competition since December. Despite being out for about two months, he had no problem qualifying for regionals.
The three-year captain pinned his first opponent, and defeated the next in 10 seconds. The two wins qualified him for regionals. To help protect his ankle, Darios defaulted the last match.
“I kind of went out there with fire in my belly, I was just ready to go,” Darios said.
Individual wrestling regionals take place February 21. He, and varsity head Coach Greg Rinehart, have full intentions of making his senior year count.
“Brian is one of the most hard working individuals that I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach, which is hard to find sometimes,” Rinehart said.
The Trojans have a squad of 12 players, and half are freshmen. This is unusually small for a Class A, Division I school. But it’s normal for East Lansing, as small and young team has been the rule during Darios’ career.
As a team, they struggle. But individually, he wins.
“That’s probably one of the driving points I guess, as a team we’ve never done really well, so individually I know that I have to do something for this school, to represent East Lansing,” Darios said.
He hopes to be the school’s first three-time state placer. He placed eighth as a sophomore, and last season finished second in triple overtime. His record was 38-2, both losses to the same player.
“This is my year, and I’m ready to take it,” Darios said. “No one’s going to stop me.”
Rinehart also expects nothing less than a championship.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that he is more technically sound than any of the heavy weights that are in this area or in the state,” Rinehart said. “That’s my opinion, but that’s what I see and what I feel.”