LOCUST GROVE, OK —
Locust Grove senior wrestler Braden Bennett represented his hometown well while wrestling in the Down Under International Games. He came home with a 12-0 record, two gold medals, a silver medal and a Most Valuable Wrestler award in hand.
Bennett began his dominance in the individual freestyle tournament, where he won his first gold medal of the July trip. He did not allow a single opponent to score against him in the freestyle tournament, outscoring his opponents 51-0. After the freestyle tournament concluded, Bennett was honored with the Most Valuable Wrestler of the tournament award. Bennett was proud of this accomplishment.
“It was amazing to be able to stand tall among the best wrestlers of the tournament,” Bennett said.
Bennett continued his success during the dual team tournament, where his United States team took second. Although his team came up short of a gold medal, Bennett won all of his matches as an individual.
Bennett then flew to Australia to compete in the beach wrestling portion of the competition, a new experience for the athletes from America, where beach wrestling is not popular.
“Beach wrestling was very different,” Bennett said. “Everything about it was different. The rules were the most difficult thing to adjust to.”
In beach wrestling there is no clock, and the first wrestler to score three points is declared the winner. Bennett adjusted to the new rules quickly, winning his first match 5-0. He went on to win his next two in order to capture his second gold medal. Although Bennett did not take beach wrestling seriously, he was still happy with another gold medal.
“The freestyle was over the top, and the beach wrestling was a nice bonus,” Bennett said. Bennett ended the international competition with a 12-0 record and outscored his opponents 108-6. Bennett also received a bonus award for his success in the Down Under International Games.
“My dad, Wade, made me a deal that if I got first at the tournament, then he would take me to get a tattoo, because he didn't think I would really win,” Bennett said.
Wade kept his promise and Braden received his new ink shortly after arriving in Hawaii. The tattoo design came from a 1971 Russian postage stamp, which Braden found on the internet his sophomore year.
Bennett experienced many new things overseas, but declined to elaborate. “What happens in New Zealand, stays in New Zealand,” he said with a laugh.