Winona State wrestler Brenna Andres earns All-American and national champion title

Andres+and+Coach+Louis+Orr+after+she+won+All-American+and+the+national+title.+Contributed+from+Andres.

Andres and Coach Louis Orr after she won All-American and the national title. Contributed from Andres.

Syerah Mulhern-Allred, sports editor

Second-year Warrior Brenna Andres won the National Collegiate Wresting Association national championship in Allen, Texas this past March after only starting her wrestling career this year.

“Growing up around wrestling, I had a deep desire to join but never had the right opportunity until this year,” Andres explained. “I walked into the wrestling room to chase my simple dream of winning one match and walked out as an All-American and NCWA national champion.”

Her breakout season started as an uphill battle after losing her first four matches before earning a single win. However, after that initial win, she launched into a stunning winning streak.

Andres had her first win in Ohio at University of Akron and hasn’t backed down since.

“After a while, I realized you have to change your mind set about it,” Andres said. “You have to think, instead of being upset about failure, learn from it and then fix those mistakes. Then I won my first match and after that I didn’t lose a single other one.”

When nationals came around, held from March 9-12 this year, Andres was seeded fifth overall. In the quarterfinals, she got her first pin against Jasmin Soclopez from University of Ottawa-Arizona which secured her place in the semifinals.

The semifinals kicked off for Andres with a matchup with the first seed, Mikayla Jardine from Big Bend Community College in Washington. Andres won the match 7-1, securing her the All-American title and overall placed second.

Andres is the third All-American wrestler and the second women’s champion in Winona State University history with the first champ being Kelli Rasmussen back in the 2010-11 school year, weighing in at 121 lbs.

On top of her newly earned titles, Andres was also named Outstanding Wrestler of the Great Lakes Regional conference while her coach, Lou Orr, was named Coach of the Year.

“[Winning nationals] was really insane. I’m still in shock about it, it doesn’t feel real,” Andres said, describing her feelings immediately after her big win. “I won the match, they blew the whistle, and I couldn’t even celebrate.”

Growing up around wrestling from being a statistics keeper for her high school team to her familial background of wrestlers, once she found out about Winona State’s team, Andres knew she had to at least try the sport out.

However, she did not join Warrior athletics blindly. Andres was offered a track and field scholarship to Winona State, which she turned down to focus on academics. Soon into her collegiate journey, Andres realized how much she missed being an active athlete.

“I cannot express my appreciation enough for Coach Louis Orr, who took a former runner with no wrestling experience to winning nationals in one season,” Andres said.

This school year was the first since 2017 that the Winona State wrestling team had traveled to nationals, last having two men compete under Coach Orr.

In Andres’ final matchup at nationals, she faced seed 2 athlete Kira Emma from University of Texas-Arlington, which went into overtime with a 2-2 score.

Within the last thirty seconds of the match Andres got a reversal and a near fall, resulting in a final 8-2 score and securing the national championship for her weight class.

Out of a team of five, Andres is the only Warrior who competed at nationals and competes on a regular basis.

“It’s been a journey,” Andres said. “Wrestling is not a beginner-friendly sport. Despite failure and mistakes, I kept pushing forward and learning from them. Success didn’t come easy for me, but it all fell into place this last part of the season.”

She will return to the mat next season for another hopefully successful season to continue spreading the Winona State name in the wrestling community.