Mount Baker senior-to-be Emma Bruntil admits the 2017 Women’s Wrestling Nationals didn’t go exactly how she planned last month in Irving Texas.
After cruising through the first three rounds of the USA Wrestling United World Wrestling Junior 59 kilogram bracket with a pin, a 12-0 technical fall and a 5-0 decision, Bruntil ran into King University’s Nicole Joseph in the semifinals. Joseph ended up pinning her in 1 minute, 51 seconds, but Bruntil worked her way back through the consolation bracket with a 4-0 win and a 12-1 technical fall to claim third place in the bracket.
“It was tough, because I lost to a girl (Joseph) who I had previously beaten,” Bruntil said. “I wrestled back to get third, but I knew I could beat her.”
According to trackwrestling.com, it marked only the second time in 2017 that Bruntil, who owns a 40-4 record with 15 pins and 20 technical falls, hadn’t won her division at a tournament, and the first came at the Washington State Wrestling Association’s South County Scuffle Freestyle, when she wrestled in the 132-pound Junior boys classification.
To ease the pain, Brutil said she went out in Irving and was just about to go get an ice cream when she got a phone call that made her decide to pass on the treat she said, “I really wanted.”
The call informed Bruntil that Joseph, who ended up finishing second to Titan Mercury Wrestling’s Gracie Figueroa, had decided to pass on the invitation to the Junior Pan American games that automatically goes to the second-place finisher in each weight class at Nationals – the winner is invited to join Team USA at the Junior World Championships.
“I was excited to go, but I knew it was a hard cut,” said Bruntil, who won the Washington Interscholastic Activites Association’s 135-pound state title for Mount Baker in February after claiming the 130-pound crown as a sophomore at Nooksack Valley. “I knew this was going to be a hard test for me, and I’d already given back a few pounds. I decided it was best to forget about the ice cream.”
The reward for her dedication to make weight for the 59 kilo division (about 130 pounds) will come Friday during the weigh-in for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and Saturday she will pull on a Team USA singlet for the first time in an international competition – though Bruntil does already have a national title she won last summer under belt.
Bruntil, who wrestles out of the Choker Wrestling Club in Aberdeen, left late Tuesday night on a series of red-eye flights that was supposed to get her to Peru by 10 a.m. Wednesday.
“I can sleep anywhere, luckily,” she said of the difficult travel.
She’ll need her sleep, as she’ll go up against some of the top junior girls wrestlers in the world.
“It’s super cool to be going to an event like this,” Bruntil said. “I had my heart set on wrestling for the U.S. at the World Championships, but I know with some small adjustments, I could be there next year. ... I’m one of the youngest in my age bracket, going up against 20- and 19-year olds. If I keep improving, I believe I can beat them up there. ”
If things end up going her way in Peru, perhaps Bruntil can even end up celebrating a Junior Pan Am title with the ice cream she eneded up passing on in Texas.
“I think it will pretty much be the same,” Bruntil said of competing in the Pan Ams. “It’s still one opponent in front of you. It’s the same wrestling, just different coaches in your corner. I try to keep everything the same and not make any one competition too big.”