Morton shines for Sibley East

ARLINGTON — After his brother, Dayne, became a state champion his senior year in 2018, Sibley East freshman wrestler Drayden Morton had the goal of doing the exact same thing.

Little did anyone know just how fast the younger brother would achieve that goal, though.

Taking home a Class A first-place medal at 106 pounds in the 2019 State Individual Wrestling Tournament, Morton proved himself to be one of Minnesota’s best wrestlers and also earned the right to be called the 2018-2019 All-Journal Wrestler of the Year.

A first-place finish at state was always the goal this year for Morton, nothing less. But just what gave him the confidence to set the bar so high?

“I wrestle 12 months out of the year with my brother,” Morton said. “We’ve gone to a whole bunch of different tournaments around the country as a family, and I’ve done pretty good at those tournaments, so I just kind of expected to [take first].”

Morton also made it to state last year as an eighth-grader, which was a telling sign of things to come. Although he didn’t place last year, the young champion upped his weight and strength in the offseason and was greatly assisted by his brother and dad.

“Me and my brother, we drill and wrestle all the time, basically every day while he’s home,” Morton said. “And my brother and my dad are always looking for new stuff and helping teach me how to improve.”

Morton has also used his faith to help drive him to improve on the mat every day.

“I also wrestle for God, and I’m very thankful that he gives me the opportunity to wrestle and try and get better every day,” Morton said.

First-year Sibley East head coach Chris Koob saw great things from Morton throughout the year and wasn’t entirely surprised to see the season end with a medal around Morton’s neck.

“It didn’t surprise me that he ended up having the season that he had,” Koob said. “The part that did surprise me was that he didn’t get taken down one time all year. To take that step — he didn’t give up an offensive point the whole entire season. That part surprised me because that’s just unbelievably hard to do. But I thought going into the year that he was a lot bigger than he was a year ago. He was very undersized a year ago [98 pounds], so I knew he was going to take big jumps. And he got that experience from varsity last year, but he probably took even a bigger jump than I thought he would.”

With a first-place medal in his possession, Morton has no plans of slowing down his sophomore year as he attempts to bring home another state title.