They do the Pirates proud.

    The Crookston Pirate Wrestling team has a club called “The Franklins.” This club is made up of five Crookston wrestlers: Wyatt Hanson, Nate Merten, Josh Edlund, Cody Weiland and Blake Bergeron. Wondering what “the Franklins” mean? The Franklins are wrestlers that have won more than 100 wrestling matches. Its significance comes from Benjamin Franklin, who is on the $100 dollar bill. These five guys have been wrestling for quite some time now and have won over 100 wrestling matches each since 7th grade.

    The head wrestling coach, Chad Hitchen has always called the 100 win club the Franklins, but also says this is the first time he’s ever had five Franklins in the starting lineup. I had the pleasure to chat with Mr. Hitchen, and asked him what is it like having five Franklins in the starting lineup. He said, “It’s really nice. Generally they are counted on for a win, or bonus points to win the dual. I know I can count on these guys to get the job done.” Coach Hitchen continued, “All 5 of the Franklins have been wrestling since park ‘n rec days, so they have lots of experience with knowledge and how wrestling works. They also have ability to be successful. They have strength, flexibility, balance and quickness.”

    Not only have these five guys all won over 100 matches but they have all been state entrants! As a wrestling manager, I’ve gotten the privilege of getting to know these 5 guys over the course of 4 years! They’ve really taught me a lot. I’ve never seen people work so hard and be so dedicated to a sport, especially in high school. I consider these guys some of my best friends. They are like my second family. What I like most about these guys is that they push themselves to the limit and continue to work harder everyday. These guys spend countless hours between the weight room and the wrestling room.

    The first wrestler to get his 100th win is a senior and also captain, Wyatt Hanson. Wyatt got his 100th win at the Crookston Tournament in 2011. Now Wyatt, Who has been your toughest opponent over the years? “I’d say Hayden Zimmer from Crosby Ironton. He’s a 2X state champ and now wrestles for NDSU.” Do you have wrestling in your background? “Yes, my father Corky Hanson and my older brother Wes Hanson both wrestled in college. My dad wrestled at Bemidji State University and my brother wrestled at St. Cloud State.” How was it been getting to know the Franklins over the years? “Getting to know the Franks has been real good, and I am sure going to miss them next year!” Hanson was a state entrant his sophomore year.

    The next wrestler to get his 100th win is a junior, Nate Merten. Nate won his 100th during the Finals in the Mayville Tournament against Cox. Nate, what has been your biggest thrill of your wrestling career so far? “Most definitely making it to state as an 8th grade, that was exciting!” Merten is a 2X state entrant, going as an 8th grader and a freshman.

    The most fortunate to receive their 100th win would be Josh Edlund, a senior captain. Josh was named a Franklin at his final match at the State Tournament in Minneapolis, against Paxton Jordahl, where he placed 3rd in the State at 195! What has been the best part of your season? “I would say taking 3rd at State, it was an amazing experience.” What has it been like getting to know these guys over the years? “It’s been awesome! The wrestling team is more like a family. It’s been a lot of fun over the past 6 years! I will miss these guys next year.” Edlund has made the trip to state his sophomore and junior years! He will now make the trip down again for his third year in a row!

    The youngest of the five to join the club is Sophomore Cody Weiland! He joined the club after a dual in Thief River Falls, where he beat Noah Bernier. What’s been the most exciting part of your wrestling career? “Winning sections last year and going to the state tournament.” How has it been getting to know these guys over the years? “ GREAT! We have a great team to be around, especially my fellow Franklin Wyatt Hanson.” Weiland went to state as a freshman.

    The final and the easiest of the five to become a Franklin is junior Blake Bergeron. He won his 100th by a forfeit against Grand Forks Central. Blake, do you have wrestling in your background? “My dad was a wrestler and was a state participant. My uncle Todd Bergeron, was a 2X state champ and is now the head coach of Greenbush. My cousin Jacoby Bergeron from TRF was also a state champion!” What’s your favorite thing about wrestling? “I don’t have anyone to blame but myself for a loss. I like that it’s an individual sport and you have to work for your own success.” What has it been like wrestling with the Franklins for all these years? “We have become best friends over the years! They are just so fun to be with! I’m just sad that we will lose two members next year.” Bergeron went to state his freshman year and will also be traveling with fellow Franklin, Edlund to the state Tournament!

    As the season comes to an end, two of the Franklins end their high school careers while the other three continue to rack up their wins and make the Pirates proud next year. Being a senior, I didn’t realize how much I’m going to miss some of these guys. They’ve become some of my best friends. I can always go to these guys if I need something, or just to make me smile. I wish the best of luck to Nate, Blake and Cody next year! I’ll be there supporting you as much as I can! As for my fellow seniors, Josh and Wyatt, I’m really going to miss you boys next year. I wish you the best of luck at college! I know you guys will be wonderful at whatever you do.

    Smith writes in Toni Grove’s communications and broadcasting class at CHS.