A chance encounter during freshman orientation at St. Amant High School made Clint Brownell a wrestler.
The burning desire to win has turned Brownell into one of the area’s top wrestlers going into the Louisiana Classic this weekend. The prestigious tournament features 45 Louisiana teams and is set for Friday and Saturday at Baton Rouge Community College.
“I saw the father of one of my friends at orientation and he got me to sign up for wrestling,” Brownell said. “My freshman year I kept getting pinned in about a minute or 1:30.
“All the teams I played on when I was growing up won. I didn’t like losing, so that summer I worked really hard. I went to a camp and wrestled any time I could find somebody to work with.”
That hard work has paid off in a big way. A year ago, Brownell finished 48-8 and was sixth at the Division I state tournament. He enters the Louisiana Classic with a 32-1 record in the 152-pound weight class. His lone loss was to an out-of-state opponent.
“Clint really wasn’t very good when he was a freshman,” St. Amant coach Brian Hess said. “He’s a very smart kid, and he figured it out. He watched opponents to see what they did and he went to work.
“It’s unusual for a guy to be able to do what he’s done in four years. It’s tribute to the work he’s put in.”
Brownell leads a St. Amant contingent that includes Sage Nugent (170 pounds), Jordan Averette (182) and Brian Brier (120) this weekend.
The Gators have their sights set on making an impression at the City Championships and the LHSAA’s Division I state tourney. But the Louisiana Classic presents a special challenge for Brownell, an honor student who plans a pre-med major in college.
“I’ve never placed in this tournament,” Brownell said. “Winning it really is a big challenge because the best wrestlers from around the state from every division will be here.”
The tourney will likely give Brownell a chance to face Holy Cross’ Joey Foret, another Division I contender at 152. Foret beat Brownell over the summer, but Brownell won the only time they met during the high school season.
“You’ve got to be really good to win this tournament,” Brownell said. “And finishing first in it is one of my goals this year, along with winning state.”