BEACH - Brad Steele spends as much time conditioning as he can.
When he wakes up every morning, he goes running. When he has no homework in study hall, he goes running.
No, he's not a track star.
The Beach grappler won't let a lack of conditioning or his past state tournament letdowns keep him from achieving his ultimate wrestling goal - a state title.
"I've got to do it this year," Steele said. "Nothing good can
come out of thinking of the past. I use it to motivate me and
there's not much else you can do with it."
It's a past that could haunt Steele if he lets it.
Entering the Class B state tournament as the No. 1 seed his
sophomore year with a 25-7 record, Steele battled his way to the
119-pound championship match where he faced off against
Hettinger standout Luke Boxrud, who caught and pinned him with
four seconds remaining in the second period. Steele admitted he
wasn't in good enough shape to take on a wrestler of Boxrud's
"I broke my leg three weeks before state, and I was
unconditioned," Steele said.
Much more accepting about the upset his sophomore year, Steele
isn't so forgiving when he thinks about last season.
Once again, Steele had the No. 1 seed after finishing the
regular season with a 30-4 record at the 125-pound class. A year
matured, Steele took care of business until he hit a wall in
Napoleon's Kevin Bitz, who beat Steele by an 8-5 decision and
went on to win his only state title.
"I was upset with myself (because) I knew I could beat him,"
Steele said. "I wasn't ready for that type of mat or that kid.
"I should have beat him. ... I let him beat me."
With the birth of a new season came a brand new slate for
Now in a senior, Steele has posted a remarkable 30-2 record at
125 pounds and was named Region 4 co-senior wrestler of the
year, sharing the award with two-time state champion Rowdy Lund
of Watford City.
Steele is hoping the third time is the charm when the Class B
state tournament kicks off today at the Bismarck Civic Center.
Second-year coach Josh Heinemeyer noted the difference he's seen
in Steele this year.
"His whole attitude is different," Heinemeyer said. "You can
just feel it. The sense of urgency is there of wanting to get
after it and get the job done."
Steele, who hasn't lost to a North Dakota opponent this season,
has a career record of 122-43 minus his freshman season.
Steele's records from that season are lost.
He wasn't able to attempt to qualify for the state tournament
after kicking his hand and breaking it while playing dodgeball.
Still, he remembers his biggest highlight - beating Hettinger's
Duane Engraf during the season. Engraf went on to earn the
state's top seed as well as a state title.
Steele said he believes this year will certainly be different
than the past.
"It seems like everything's clicking for me," he said.
Steele has more at risk than just personal fulfillment.
Having eight siblings, including five brothers, Steele isn't the
first to try for that elusive state title. Older brothers Brett
and Scott have both been to the state finals, but neither
brought home a state title. Younger brother Devin is a sophomore
on the wrestling team.
"They've been encouraging me since I was little," Brad said. "It
was always the next one down the line that was going to do it
Being around five brothers who all wrestled has turned out to be
a significant factor for Brad, who said he has improved even
more since Brett and Scott returned from serving in Iraq.
"My brothers have always wrestled around the house," he joked.
Steele's first-round opponent is Lisbon freshman Reed Huether
(17-10). Heinemeyer said he won't be giving Steele any state-
title pep talks.
"I try not to put that on him," Heinemeyer said. "I do tell him
that there are no more next years, but I don't talk about
winning a state title. If you think about it, you're never going
to get out of the quarterfinals."
What once was a long-term goal could finally be a reality for
Steele, who joins Devin (171) and junior Damien Berger (130) as Beach's three state qualifiers.
"A state title has been a dream since I started wrestling when I was three," Steele said. "It'd be real nice to win it."