BLACKFOOT – It would be hard to be intimidated when you first look at sophomore Mack Mauger of Blackfoot High School.
The slender, unassuming look and smile that you get when you shake hands with the young man gives no indication that he has a resume that many a college or professional wrestler would love to have.
Part of that must come from the weights that Mauger has been wrestling at, winning a state wrestling championship as a freshman a year ago at the 98 pound division, where he was beaten just once, that coming in the prestigious Rollie Lane Invitational.
This year, Mauger has not lost a match, winning quite a strong number of matches along the way, probably close to 30 by this time of the year, but even Mack Mauger doesn’t know the exact number because he doesn’t keep track, only tracking his tournament wins, which are considerable.
Not only is Mauger a defending state champion in Idaho, he is also a national champion, and yet he remains very humble about his accomplishments, speaking very softly when asked to recount the wins.
The first came when he won a prestigious national tournament in Iowa last summer in the folkstyle discipline of wrestling.
He quickly followed that up with two more national championships in Fargo, N.D., in freestyle and Greco-Roman, giving him a trifecta or triple crown of titles.
“I think every wrestler wants to be good and to win titles and championships, but until it actually happens, it doesn’t really sink in,” Mauger said. “When I won the first tournament, it was like, man this is cool, but it was a couple of days before I really realized that I had done it and then it was like you have to go and prove that you can do it again.”
It was quite the show that Mauger put on at the nationally acclaimed Doc Buchanan Invitational this past weekend. Not only did he win the title at 109 pounds, he beat the other wrestler from Idaho that everyone talks about in Dedrick Navarro of Nampa. Both wrestlers were undefeated this year, in fact, both wrestlers squared off last February for the Idaho state title.
It is just amazing that two wrestlers with the resumes these two have are this closely aligned and will be heavy favorites to meet once again for the state title in Holt Arena in February.
The Doc Buchanan Invitational is just that, an invitational where you don’t solicit a spot in the tournament, you have to earn it and then wait for them to invite you.
Mauger has such a strong presence in the world of wrestling, when the invite came in, he asked to talk with his coaches first and to request that some of his teammates were allowed to enter as well. This tournament wanted Mack Mauger and they wanted him in a big way and they conceded to his requests so that there were a good contingent of Blackfoot wrestlers that boarded the plane to fly to California to compete in the Doc Buchanan Invitational. What a terrific experience for those that made the trip, coaches, wrestlers and friends and parents who all were able to enjoy the experience.
Mauger may have been the only champion from Idaho that participated this year, but the experience of being one of 64 in a single bracket, all trying to win the same thing, had to be the experience of a lifetime.
“It was pretty cool to be up there on the podium, with all of those great wrestlers,” Mauger said. “Then to get to put that cowboy hat on your head, representing the championship, words just cannot explain that feeling.”
Mack Mauger is definitely a champion, in every sense of the word, but he is more and that is evidenced by the fact that it isn’t just about him and his accomplishments, but also what he can do to enhance the experience by sharing it with his team and coaches, and that makes him a true champion in many more ways than one.
Mauger has aspirations to wrestle in college and hopefully will stay healthy enough and keep on winning so he gets the opportunity to make it to a big time wrestling school down the road.
“If I can earn it, then it would be really cool to accomplish that, but there is a lot of wrestling yet to do before I get to that point,” Mauger said. “Next up is the tournament next week and the one after that and I need to keep on winning.”