I have never met Brett Christensen. I have certainly heard of him, though. One of those Lenox hammers. He hit my radar when he wrestled in the 2002 state finals at 1A HWT. His finals match was against returning state champ from Lisbon, Ryan Fuller. Brett gave Fuller a close match in which Fuller won via escape in double-OT. This match always stuck out to me for a few reasons: 1.) I think that was the second year in a row that Fuller won 1-0 in the finals. I am not sure if that ever happened before. 2.) Fuller was GREAT. Wrestled some varsity for the Hawkeyes in college. Brett gave an elite guy a great match in that one. And 3.) One of the most memorable moments at the state tournament for me was when Fuller defeated Christensen in the finals, his reaction was to sprint off. I sort of knew Fuller through us wrestling Lisbon first dual of the year every year and I really liked him. Nice guy and a character and I am guessing his reaction to sprint off after the match was adrenaline-fueled. The moment this happened, I remember getting the song “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls stuck in my head and thinking it’d be pretty funny to play that song to a clip of Fuller sprinting off and make a video out of it. 18 years later, at age 37, I somehow did not forget about this and did just that… it’s on the YouTube channel…doesn’t belong in this article, but that’s how I originally knew of Brett… the guy who wrestled Fuller when that happened. Not to make this article all about one of Brett’s matches he presumably wishes he could get back. Brett was likely very confused when all this happened. That changed a bit when I saw Brett wrestle more in college. I went to Loras College and wrestled 174/184/197 and he went to Simpson and wrestled 285 and looked good against very good wrestlers every time I watched him, which was at least 10 matches. I remember him wrestling against a couple of Loras 285’s over the years, both of which were guys I wrestled occasionally in practice. I remember sizing him up and comparing his scores to the scores I would have against these guys in practice and it would crack me up because I was a 152 lber my Senior year in HS and I never would have imagined that just a couple years later, I would be sizing up common opponents that I had with Brett Christensen…who was a good-sized, strong-looking HWT in HS. He was so impressive in college. I felt that The Iowa Conference (D3) was very tough back then at the 285 lb. Division and Christensen managed to qualify for nationals all 4 years as well as AA two of those years. He accomplished all this wrestling varying types of D3 hammers and winning. Very impressive. And better yet with Brett, he didn’t fit the mold of being one of the types of heavier guys who spend the majority of the time hand-fighting and content to win by scores of 1-0, 2-1, UTB, etc. Every time I watched Brett he seemed to be working something and those “somethings” often led to him putting guys right to their backs. Fun to watch.
And the dude seems to be well-liked. He has actually been requested for one of these twice. One was by a college teammate who told me it’d be a great article because of his story being an interesting one as well as his personality being fun and entertaining. This guy said that Brett is the type of teammate who was liked by everyone on the team. The other person said that they “want to read a Remember The Wrestler article on Brett Christensen because he is such a great guy.” I took their word for it and am happy to learn about his journey and it makes me even happier that when I hear his name now, I will think of this article and not end up with “I Ran” by Flock of Seagulls in my head.
Here is Brett’s finals matches from 2000 and 2002, He did lose these, but I wouldn’t post them in his article if I felt he had anything to be ashamed of. He battled Underwood HWT phenom Mark Lander to a close match as an underclassmen as a Sophomore… Then as a Senior, he took on a legit D1 recruit and returning state champ and gave him what was presumably his toughest match of that entire season. Brett wrestled well. Not that anyone ever has an easy road at state, but the road for Brett at state wrestling in high school, couldn’t have more bumps given the depth and the talent he consistently faced and usually defeated.
What clubs, schools, etc. did you wrestle for?
We had a little kids program in Lenox when I was growing up where I rewrote the book on how bad a kid could be at wrestling. Lenox High School. Simpson College.
What year did you graduate?
Lenox High School 2002. Simpson College 2006.
Who or what encouraged you to give wrestling a try?
Growing up in the Christensen family really left you no choice, but to wrestle. Family gatherings were, and still are, chaos. You’d think with age would come calm, but no, not here.
Do you have any family who wrestled or wrestles currently? Parents, children, brothers, etc.? How did they do?
My family is big into wrestling. From uncles on down to cousins, there were a lot of us that wrestled at some point. A lot of state qualifiers, state medalists, as coaches and wrestlers, in years prior and currently. My uncle Gary won a state dual team title at Winterset, my uncle Eddard took home a traditional 3rd place state trophy at Bedford, my uncle Jim is in the IWCOA Hall of Fame. My uncle Danny was head coach at Central Decatur for years. My uncles Tom and Lynn were coaches at Lenox. And my uncles Chris, Craig, and my dad wrestled in high school. As for cousins, my cousin Cory won 3 state titles for Winterset and my cousin Tysen won a state title for Lenox. And some of us were medalists. And the stat girl position has been held by many of my cousins too all over southwest Iowa.
What were your youth results? Any rivals there?
My early youth results were to walk on the mat, get dominated by some kid who felt sorry me, then walk off the mat. My only rival there was the poor guy who officiated the match and had to decide whether to call the fall in 7 seconds or let it last until 20 seconds. In my head I wanted them to call it, but as they do, they let it go for a little while before calling the fall.
What was your record in HS?
156 – 20 with 113 falls.
How did you place at state every year?
2nd my sophomore and senior year. 4th my junior year.
What were some of the most notable adverse challenges or moments you experienced in wrestling and how did it turn out?
I tore my MCL and PCL in my left knee 2 weeks before sectionals my junior year and thought my season was done. But after talking to my coach we decided to give it a go.
How would you describe your wrestling style?
Early on it was strictly defensive but eventually I got to a point where I would call it opportunistically offensive. Yeah I’ll go with that.
How many guys in high school did you go back and forth with or exchange wins with?
Curtis Head from Shenandoah was always a tough outing. I split with Ryan Fuller of Lisbon at state, with him winning the one that mattered most our senior year though.
Who was your most influential coach?
All of them in some way were influential. Erin Maguire, my high school coach, was a great motivator. You just never wanted to let him down. My uncles Tom and Lynn always were good for some laughs during some grinding practices. Ron Peterson, my college coach, kept things fun, whether it was fun for us or for some practices, just fun for him. We never felt like we couldn’t go to him for anything. Jeremy Whalen, an assistant at Simpson, I swear would sit around and come up with new conditioning drills. But always kept pushing you. Ricky Schweitzberger, another assistant at Simpson, was just crazy. Never slowed down.
Was your team competitive in HS/college?
At Lenox we were 5th, 3rd, and 7th at state. At Simpson we finished 5th and 6th at Nationals and 3rd and 8th at National Duals.
Who was your most influential wrestler that you looked up to growing up?
I actually didn’t watch much wrestling growing up. Mainly just kept tabs on how my family was doing. So my cousins Cory, Tysen, and Josh from Nodaway Valley.
Who would you consider the GOAT Iowa HS wrestler?
Too many guys to argue for there.
Who are your favorite current wrestlers?
Any of the Olympians.
What music would you listen to back in the wrestling days?
I just remember at Simpson our captain, and good buddy, Bart George hated the music we all played so one day he brought a Steve Earle CD and that CD was all we listened to one year. One time a teammate tried to change it and Bart issued the warning that if it was changed there would be problems. So we listened to Steve Earle. It was awful. Try getting yourself through a college wrestling practice with Steve Earle serenading the room with Copperhead Road or The Devil’s Right Hand. But it was listen to that or get beat up.
What was the most upset you ever felt after a loss?
My senior year in the finals.
If you could go back and change one thing about your wrestling career, what would it be?
To pay someone to go steal that Steve Earle CD out of our practice room at Simpson.
What was your best wrestling memory or accomplishment?
Just the teams I was a part of at both Lenox and Simpson. We had a lot of fun together. There were teams better than us but no one had a better group of idiots. A lot of us are still close to this day.
Who were some of your most notable competitors in high school? College?
I remember I wrestled a guy at the Buena Vista Tournament my freshman year at Simpson and after that match I thought I had made an incredible mistake wrestling after high school. It was like a high schooler wrestling a kindergartener. I think my coaches wished I had picked a different college at that point.
Did you wrestle all year or was it seasonal for you?
How would the guys from your day stack up against the guys today?
With the mindset of every wrestler, every guy thinks their era is the most dominant.
Did you wrestle after high school?
I wrestled at Simpson College in Indianola from 2002 – 2006. I was a 4X National Qualifier and a 2X All-American.
What other sports did you play?
Football and Track.
What are your favorite sports teams?
Pittsburgh Steelers, Michigan Wolverines, and the St. Louis Cardinals. I don’t actually watch any baseball, but my college roommate Cody Downing and the whole Downing family are die hard Cubs fans. I mean true die hard fans. And I have convinced Cody’s oldest son that I’m a huge Cards fan so now he is to. Why do I do it? Because I’m an idiot and it drives them all nuts.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: GO CARDINALS!!!! Although I do share Cody’s love of left-sided headlocks… 🙂 )
What are your hobbies other than wrestling?
Just hanging out with friends and not listening to Steve Earle.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve Earle and Eydie Gorme’s cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” is pretty sweet. Never met another wrestler who knew who Steve Earle was! 🙂 )
How good does it make you feel to give back to the sport?
I’m just a spectator nowadays.
How has wrestling shaped you as a person to this day?
As with everyone who sticks with this sport, it’s definitely given me a stronger mindset. And cauliflower ear.
What do you do now?
I work for the Downing Family in Creston, farming.
Are you still involved with wrestling?
I’m just a spectator now.
Any advice for upcoming wrestlers?
Wrestling not to lose is a terrible way to spend 6 or 7 minutes. And always go for the fall. Leaves more time to nap in between matches until the coach finally tracks you down and starts yelling at you wondering why you’re not warming up yet. One or both of these are me speaking from experience.
Any chance we see you wrestle again at an Old Timer’s tournament?
Absolutely not. In fact, years ago my cousin Q asked if I would want to wrestle in one and I asked him to fight for even asking me.
Would you like to give a shout out to anyone you wrestled with, against, coached, etc.?
My parents Lary and Vickie, my cousins, and the rest of the family for making it a good time for everyone. Tysen Christensen, Seth Evans, Wade Samo for setting the standard in high school. Bart George and Clint Manny, for doing the same in college. My cousins Q, Cole, and Weller, who wrestled at the same time I did and together at Simpson, and who are responsible for 97% of my anger there. The guys from Bedford, Nodaway Valley, Central Decatur, Ogden, CAM, and too many others to name.
Do you have anything to add? Funny/interesting stories? Trivia? Etc.
To end this I’ll tell you what type of teammates I had in college. My junior year after the Simpson Invitational, my cousin Q and roommate Dustin Brewer asked me later that night if I had to use the restrooms a lot that day. I said no. And I could see the disappointment in their eyes and asked why. They said they had put laxatives in my Gatorade that morning and were hoping it kicked in while I was on the mat. So either they were light on the dose, thank God, or at some point the Gatorades got switched and someone else had a real bad day.