(TNS) — Growing up on a farm in Le Sueur, Minn., 60 miles southwest of the Twin Cities, Brett Pfarr learned that nothing ever comes easy.
“We did a lot of work on the farm, so that kind of mentality and that attitude of always putting work in and strapping up our boots carries over” to wrestling, Pfarr said.
The Pfarr family business is farming, but its passion is wrestling. Brett, a senior who wrestles at 197 pounds for the University of Minnesota, is ranked No. 2 in the nation after finishing third in both the NCAA and Big Ten tournaments last year. His brother Chris also wrestles for the Gophers; another brother, Matthew, wrestled at St. John’s.
Pfarr’s father, David, wrestled in high school and coached wrestling while Brett was growing up. David Pfarr turned his machine shop into a wrestling room, complete with a mat and weight equipment.
“We were always training on our farm,” Brett Pfarr said. “We always had kids from the area, from my high school and from the area high schools, come out and train with us as well.”
Wrestling came naturally to Pfarr, and once he became serious about trying to wrestle in college, there was no doubt where he wanted to go.
“When I was about a junior, I knew I wanted to wrestle Division I — and wrestle for Minnesota,” he said. “My dad had season tickets back in the early 2000s, so we came up to watch these guys wrestle; they were like superstars for a little guy like me.”
Pfarr is now a fifth-year senior for his favorite childhood team, and he’s coming off the best season of his life. He was named an All-American in the 197-pound division last spring, finishing with a 40-4 record.
He was 24-12 as a sophomore wrestling at 184 pounds. Pfarr said that the jump up to a higher weight class was a big reason for his success last year. “I felt really good. I feel good now at 197; it’s just a natural fit for me,” he said.
This season, he is 12-0, and won his weight class two weeks ago at the prestigious Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas.
“(He) dominated the tournament; looked phenomenal wrestling some of the top guys in the country (and) he just showed that he’s heads and tails above where these guys are at this point,” Gophers coach Brandon Eggum said.
Pfarr will face his biggest test of the season this weekend at another big tournament, the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he is likely to run into 2016 NCAA champion J’Den Cox of Missouri, who handed Pfarr two of his four defeats last season, including in the Southern Scuffle title match.
Eggum said that when Pfarr dominates, it motivates the entire team, and he believes Pfarr is a poster-boy for how to progress year after year. “Brett’s just a great example of a farm kid from Minnesota who came out of high school (as) a good wrestler but now has become a phenomenal wrestler and showed that he can develop through the program here,” he said.
Eggum is also impressed with Pfarr’s leadership off the mat, saying he is a positive influence on the team with his hard work in the classroom as well as in the training room.
Pfarr is working toward a degree in agriculture and food business management. His younger brother, Chris, a 184-pounder with the Gophers, is pursuing that major, too. Their sibling rivalry extends into the classroom.
“I think we’re more competitive when our test scores come in than when we wrestle,” Brett Pfarr said.