FARGO, N.D. — Mick Burnett is great and he proved it once again at the wrestling national championships.
The only problem: Colorado’s Dom Serrano is just a little bit better.
Burnett was an All-American for the third time and finished runner-up for the second time Tuesday at nationals. All three times he has lost to Serrano.
“That kid’s like a brick on springs,” Team Ohio coach Erik Burnett, Mick’s dad, said of Serrano. “He’s strong, quick, fast and technical. The kid is really good. He’s got everything you need.”
Serrano, a University of Nebraska commit, proved to be too much for Burnett again in the 132-pound Junior Freestyle final with a 10-0 technical fall.
It wasn’t that Burnett didn’t try countless times to get in on Serrano. It’s just that Serrano had an answer for everything Burnett attempted.
The big points came early when Burnett was taken down 29 seconds in and laced to give Serrano a four-point advantage.
“That kid was very good,” Erik Burnett said. “We had a chance to watch him all tournament long. You have to give him credit. He gave us a wicked double leg (takedown) and then a wicked single.
“Mick had a chance to take him down later, but when he got taken down his legs got trapped together. You can’t let that lace happen. It’s a mental break you can’t do. You have to break his position. That match we didn’t take very good angles. That being said, Serrano is good.”
Mick Burnett is as well and he’s a quick study in fixing his mistakes.
Last summer he finished second at the Cadet level and then ran through the high school season to pick up a state title and Chronicle Wrestler of the Year honors.
Like last summer, he rolled to the final this time for a matchup with Serrano. Up a division, Burnett won four matches by technical fall, one by pin and another with a last-second takedown.
Along the way he beat a four-time state champion from Colorado, a three-time state champion from Iowa, a state champion from Alaska, a two-time state placer from New Jersey and a state placer from Missouri.
“Last year here I wasn’t really opening up like I wanted to,” Mick Burnett said. “I had a lot of close matches. This year I was able to open up and score a lot of points and it helped me in a lot of matches. In the finals, I just ran into a kid that was better than me. That’s pretty much what it is.
“There were definitely big steps taken from last year to this year. I just tried to stay on my offense and score a lot of points. It’s a lot about being more comfortable with this place. The more times I’ve been here the more comfortable I get. Also, it’s just pushing the pace. Last year I didn’t have a sense of urgency and I let guys sneak back into matches. (This year) I was able to stay on everybody and push the pace and score.”
With two seasons left at the high school level, there are even bigger things expected. He’s already shown he can wrestle with the best and lead, now it’s up to him to teach those traits to the next generation.
“The question is, ‘Is he making progress?’” Erik Burnett said. “The answer is yes. As long as I see that in every one of our wrestlers, it’s all good. He’s made a lot of progress. This year all his wins were tech falls or pins and that’s good. He’s not going out and just trying to outscore his opponent, he’s going out and scoring points.”
The 16U Greco Roman Nationals begin today with Avon’s Ty Daugherty (106), Vermilion’s Chris Bennett (182) and Keystone’s Nick Hickman (195) dreaming of titles and All-American honors.
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