Centennial senior Hunter Brown has been used to distractions, obstacles or adversity for most of his wrestling career.
Whether it has been overcoming tough matches, handling a full load of honors classes, injuries, traveling or dealing with being a cast member of a reality TV series, Brown has learned to cope.
So it should come as no surprise if the defending regional and state champion shakes off any pressure entering the Sunset Region tournament, which begins today at Bonanza, less than a month after he was the No. 1 seed at the highly acclaimed 5 Counties Wrestling Championships in Fountain Valley, Calif.
“I’ve been to some of the top tournaments in the nation, and it’s to the point where we’ve been to top-level matches, and I’ve learned to control my emotions and thought process when preparing for a tournament,” said Brown, who won the 195-pound title at 5 Counties.
The Sunrise Region tournament also begins today at Green Valley, and the Division I-A Southern Region tournament starts at Boulder City. All three tournaments end Saturday with championship matches scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
Brown, whose family is featured in the TLC show “Sister Wives,” won all three of his state tournament matches by pin last year in Primm. He is the top seed in the Northwest League for this year’s regional and must finish in the top three to advance to the state tournament in Winnemucca.
“There are kids you have to poke and prod to work, there are others you have to rein in,” Centennial coach Steve Wike said. “But Hunter, no he’s focused, he’s balanced, he compartmentalizes, he’s organized.
“We talk about compartmentalization constantly in the room, and Hunter is usually my reference on that. He’s able to focus on what needs to be focused on at that moment and handle other things when it’s time to handle them.”
Despite his ascension as one of the most dominant wrestlers on the West Coast — he also took second at the Doc Buchanan Invitational in Clovis, Calif., another top-rated event — Brown’s father wishes his son would be more aggressive and lose his politeness when he steps on the mat.
“In most cases, I feel he would be more successful in wrestling if he had a mean streak,” Kody Brown said. “He’s just a gentleman.”
Like most wrestlers, Hunter Brown doesn’t take losing well, but he doesn’t dwell on defeats, either. Since a disheartening loss at regionals as a sophomore, he says he has learned to channel his disappointment into positive energy and learn from mistakes.
“I’ve wrestled a lot of state champs and state qualifiers from around the West Coast, as well as bigger events nationally, and the thing I’ve been most happy about is just winning or competing well,” Brown said. “I feel the respect, because when you’re a state champion and go into these tournaments as one of the top two seeds, you get your respect.”
Brown’s father, who at times has received critical acclaim for his reality series, says he’s proud of the maturity his son has displayed, during and after filming, while always being in a spotlight he never asked to be in.
“They can’t follow him to the school, they can’t follow him to his wrestling career, they can’t follow him to wrestling tournaments,” Kody Brown said. “It’s called “Sister Wives” — it’s not about him. It’s about those mothers, and it’s about their children when we’ve got the opportunity to film them. That actually sets him free on a level.
“I’d love to make an entire episode about wrestling, but it’s not about me, it’s not about him, it’s not about wrestling.”
This weekend, however, Hunter Brown hopes to make the 195-pound bracket all about him.