FARGO, N.D. — The risk of cauliflower ear? Worth it.
The blood? Not a big deal.
Add sweat and tears and Bradley Staron wouldn’t trade any of it for the world, but that’s what happens when you have something taken away from you.
Even though the Highland senior-to-be didn’t win a match at the U.S. Marine Corps Junior Greco-Roman Nationals on Thursday, it was exactly where he wanted to be.
The 145-pounder came into last year’s folkstyle season ready to use what he had learned in Fargo, N.D., and then fate knocked him for a loop when elbow and ankle injuries all but wiped out his junior season.
Craving the spotlight for the first time since December, Staron felt at home in the FargoDome.
“After the ankle and elbow (injuries), I took the least time-consuming option and didn’t have surgery on the elbow,” Staron said. “If I had the surgery, I wouldn’t have been able to wrestle Fargo at all. I missed most of my junior season and I really needed to make it up. Even though it was disappointing to go 0-2, all it took to get here, all the training, it was worth it.”
Ulnar collateral ligament injuries to the elbow aren’t anything to mess with, which is why Staron took the time. While the struggle of watching his teammates was real, he knew a summer full of Greco would help.
Qualifying for the team for the second year in a row after placing at the Northeast Regional, Staron was ready for the competition.
“I was lucky to just wrestle,” Staron said. “I was taking a big risk with that. Wrestling Greco and getting to here means I’m one step closer to getting to the top of the junior level.”
The bracketing gods weren’t in Staron’s favor when he was pitted against Minnesota state qualifier Kellen Schauer in his first-round match. Four penalty points didn’t help the cause as Schauer won by technical superiority, 12-2.
As Fargo often does, it brought an even tougher foe in Staron’s round-of-32 consolation bout. He faced Arkansas two-time state finalist and 2017 state champion Logan Sloss and was pinned in 1:28.
Undaunted, Staron will come back to the Hornets and coach Tim Maxworthy seasoned and ready for more.
“It’s a whole other season that I went through for this,” he said. “If I would have taken the summer season off, it would have been like missing another season. Just getting into a bigger tournament at the national level gets me more comfortable of where I need to be to get to state.”
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.