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The Drill: Pipestone Area’s Suda is super-talented in wrestling

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PIPESTONE -- Michael Suda arrived in the United States from Ethiopia as a grade schooler, and upon enrolling in the Pipestone Area public school system he soon learned that he could wrestle other kids and be applauded for it.

“To be fighting other kids is something I kind of like,” said the Arrow senior recently. “To be able to do it without getting in trouble makes me feel even better.”

Before organized wrestling beckoned to him, young Suda enjoyed wrestling with his friends. But it was the usual roughhousing that kids do. But in Pipestone, he learned to win titles. Years later, when he entered high school, he won more titles.

Suda, who also is a state-caliber cross country runner, won state wrestling championships in both his sophomore and junior seasons at PAHS, right alongside his teammate and friend, Hunter Burnett, another two-time state titleist. This year, as a senior, Suda is rated No. 1 in Class A in the 126-pound weight class, and Burnett is rated No. 2 at 132.

Suda is tough to take down, but he may be even better at taking others down. At the state tournament last year, he captured the 126-pound weight class by running up the scores in four major decisions: 21-8, 19-7, 21-9 and 17-4. He finished the year a perfect 45-0.

Next year, he’ll be wrestling for Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D., under head coach Jason Reitmeier, a former Worthington High School standout. Suda says he’s looking forward to the next level. But until then, he’s got some unfinished business to take care of in high school, which means a run at a third straight state championship.

The Globe learned more about Suda’s story during another installment of The Drill. For video footage of the Arrow star, go online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sampling of the interview:

QUESTION: What would a third consecutive state wrestling championship mean to you?

ANSWER: “A third title, I think, at this point after winning my first and second, it’s kind of a good thing to have -- to be up there and see who is going to be up there to try and take me down. At this point, I’m trying to make everything more crisp and come back and get a repeat. The second title, that was more of a security thing, I guess. Like I can do it.”

Q: Both you and Hunter Burnett are coming off two straight state wrestling championships. How has he helped you get to where you are today?

A: “We go way back to our pee wee days when we won our first title. And even back then, we didn’t really know each other. .... We’ve been winning titles since then and he’s always been there. And he’s been the kid close to my weight, and off the mat we have been best friends. Just to have your best friend kind of go through a journey like this -- we challenge each other, we’re always trying to out-do each other.”

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not wrestling?

A: Suda said he likes simple things, like hanging out with his friends. He added, “It goes back to when I was in Africa. I was always the kid in the background. I didn’t feel like I’d sum up to anything. To come up here and have the opportunity to be something great in an activity I really enjoyed, and with the people I had surrounding me -- the road has been so well laid out for me that it set me up for success.”

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