'Did what I had to do': Troy Berg clinches back-to-back state championships
Troy Berg named back-to-back state champion, the first time it has happened in 14 years.
Junior Troy Berg has always been athletically gifted. Whether football, baseball or wrestling, Berg has been directly game planned against, had his name circled by opponents and studied in darkened film rooms of many athletic departments. But in wrestling, all his opponents plans were for naught —he reigns supreme...again.
After winning the state championship his sophomore season, many questioned how the young athlete would return as a junior. Some come back without the fire, others find that a long summer layoff has set them back. In a sport that evolves by the week, a summer can bring insurmountable challenges if spent off the matt. Many athletes fold under the added pressure of being state champion, but the only folding that Berg did was on the mats with a referee calling his pins.
In 22 matches Berg did what many strive but fall short of — perfection.
With an unblemished 22-0 record, he re-gained his state title and became the first wrestling athlete at Dickinson High School in 14 years to go back-to-back at state.
Despite accomplishing the rarest of feats, Berg has kept that which has endured him to many coaches, competitors and hundreds of supporters, humbleness.
"It means a lot, just knowing that you have people that look up to you and you just got to set an example for them everyday and show them what it’s like to work hard and be a good person. Other than that you just got to be yourself," he said.
Ever since childhood, Berg showed signs of craving action and physicality. Loving to get close and embracing the contact amongst his peers. To his parents, Berg needed something that would help with his playful aggression. Little did they know that their decision would create a beauty of a beast when it came to hitting the mat.
"My parents kind of got me into wrestling when I was three just because I was kind of crazy and they needed to get me into something to calm me down a little bit," Berg said. "That competitiveness just took over and just kind of started to enjoy it and the time you get with the friends and the family you make basically and everything about it is something to enjoy."
As his talents began to bloom, so did Berg's desire to be the best wrestler he could be. With football helping Berg develop his takedown abilities and develop his strength right before the start of the wrestling season, Berg became the perfect storm when it came to battling against his opponents.
By the time he was a sophomore, Berg may have not been a senior, but he was already viewed as being one of the strongest leaders on the team.
" I think one of his best qualities is leading by example," Wrestling coach Trevor Conrad said. "Being able to get the job done, do what you’re told, do what you’re asked of and he’s been a really good role model for the rest guys."
Most wrestlers claim that they are prepared to battle any one at any time. However, Berg backs it up by doing just that.
In this season alone, Berg battled some of the best wrestlers in the state of North Dakota, and Montana, and concurring all that stood against him. Some of his matches he had only just known about right before it was time to battle.
" From 138, 152, 160, beat them all and every time we told him, ‘hey, you’re going to wrestle this guy,’ he just said, ‘OK.’ He went out and got the job done," Conrad said.
For Berg, one must be humble going into their matchup but should never idolize their opponent.
" It’s just another person standing across the line," he said. "You can’t look at anybody as a bigger match from someone else because as soon as you do that you know you’re putting yourself in a whole because you’re not there completely mentally and I just kind of feel like you need to go into every match the same way as you would every other match. Just took it one match at a time."
With that mindset, Berg was able to push through any challenge that came his way. By the time the state tournament had arrived, Berg, who was prepared to defend his 152-pound division bout, was one of the most revered names to be dealt with.
One-by-one, his opponents attempted to bring him down and end his win streak, and take his state title. But Berg was not about to let it happen. Instead, he looked at it as his job to get the title. Not for himself, but for Dickinson High and for his fellow teammates.
"I Did what I had to do," he said.
By the time it got to the state championship, all eyes were on Berg as he was the final wrestler of the event. Some wanted to see Berg obtain his second title, others just wanted see if the hype was valid.
Needless to say, Berg did not disappoint. In a 11-4 decision, Berg successfully defended his state belt and completed his perfect season.
Surprisingly, the Dickinson fan base seemed more excited about the results than Berg, the actual winner. However, to Berg, it was just all part of the job.
"Honestly, to me, it was like winning another match," he said. "It was no real big explosion in my head or anything, it was just me getting the job done and that was that."
With the perfect season under his belt, Berg now prepares for the upcoming baseball season, while getting ready to defend his belt next season as a senior. Knowing that all eyes will be on him yet again next year, Berg says he does not feel the pressure, only determination to continue to stay humble and lead by example.
"I feel like having everybody looking at me, it feels like I kind of take it as a compliment," he said. "Everybody wants to be that person that everybody looks up to and when you finally are it’s like nothing even changed. You still have the people you look up to, the only difference is you just got a little older."