Baylor wrestler Brandon Brunner will go looking for his fourth state championship with a college commitment in hand.
Brunner has committed to South Dakota State and former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga coach Chris Bono. One of Bono's assistants is Israel Silva, a former Mocs wrestler and assistant.
"I think it's great when guys get that out of the way and not have that weight on their shoulders going into their senior season," Baylor coach Ben Nelson said.
"He's excited. They have a coaching staff he's familiar with from his days of youth wrestling at UTC, so he already has a personal relationship with the coaches."
Projected to compete at 141 or 149 pounds in college, Brunner plans to wrestle at 135 for the Red Raiders. He has won two state championships at Baylor after one as a freshman at Tullahoma.
He acknowledged the distance and climate of his destination.
"I'm not sure how long the trip is [by car] -- 17 hours, maybe," said Brunner, who canceled planned visits to Central Michigan and Oregon State. "I'm going up there in September for my official visit.
"I'm not really a cold-weather person. I like Tennessee weather for sure. It's hard to find a place like Chattanooga for outdoor life, but there are some things to do outdoors [around Brookings, S.D.]."
Bono was with Chattanooga from 2005 to '08, serving the last three years as head coach. He returned in 2009 to Iowa State, his alma mater, as assistant head coach but left the coaching profession in 2010 to pursue private business interests. Bono was hired at South Dakota State this past spring.
"I loved Chattanooga. The biggest mistake I made was leaving," Bono said. "The funding is probably better here, but the fan support and the booster club are similar to what was in Chattanooga. The recruiting base is better, though. We're 30 minutes from Minnesota and 40 minutes from Iowa."
• A new Red Raider is Tate Robinson, who has enrolled at Baylor after leaving Christian Brothers. Robinson was a state champion in 2011 and was runner-up to Baylor's Zach Watson in 2012.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...