Sam Kulseth's 100th win is just another accomplishment for the talented yet humble junior.
Like a moth to a flame, Sam Kulseth was drawn to wrestling and winning at a young age.
When he first took the mat as a kindergartner in a St. James youth wrestling program, he knew he liked it.
When he won his first match, he knew he loved it.
Fast forward a decade later, Sam Kulseth has done more than his fair share of wrestling in his junior year in high school. He's also done his fair share of winning as well.
On Monday, Jan. 9th in a meet against Worthington, Kulseth joined the 100-win club, a feat accomplished by only 23 other wrestlers in the program’s history.
As of Jan. 15, 2017, Kulseth is 20th all-time in wins with 105. He's on pace to end the season with 120 wins, which would place him just outside the top-10 at 11th all-time by the end of his junior year.
If Kulseth keeps pace, he could end his career with 150+ wins, which would place him in the top-5 on the all-time wins list.
"There's so much history in St. James wrestling, that to potentially be in the top 10 all-time is special because of how much I love and give to wrestling," said Kulseth.
It's clear to anyone who's watched Kulseth's post-match exaltations and pre-match motions, that his passion for the sport is evident.
However, it's abundantly clear to anyone who's seen Sam take down an opponent or masterfully escape a grapple, that he is a special talent.
"You've got a skill for this."
It's something he's heard from his father Mark (who went 71-44 in his St. James wrestling career) after every post-match talk.
It's something he’s heard as a rising youth wrestler from coaches Troy Meyer (3rd all-time in wins at 153) and Matt Durheim.
It's something he heard after his first varsity match as a seventh grader when he was down 9-0.
“That match always sticks with me because I told myself that ‘I’m better than this.’”
In that match, Kulseth staged a furious comeback, ultimately coming up short 12-11 due to referee’s discretion. However, he proved to himself and everyone else, he had a bright future on the wrestling mat.
"People had always told me I had the mentality to be good at this," said Kulseth. "After that match, I told myself I could be good at this."
After compiling a 30-win season as a freshman, Kulseth had his finest season as a sophomore going 31-6 in the 120 and 126 class, qualified for the state tournament and won sectionals before placing top-8 after a 2-2 record at states.
In his junior year, Kulseth has only gotten better, currently standing at 17-5 with 8 eights falls and he's racked up wins against three ranked opponents. Sam is currently ranked #6 in the state in the 120 class and he has his eyes on another run at states.
"That’s the goal, I feel like I deserve to be there, I've been working hard and I just know I need to show up and wrestling every match the same way."
Outside of his on the mat accolades, he’s also prided himself as a leader and captain. In post-match interviews, he’s always one to deflect attention and praise off himself and to his teammates.
For all of Sam’s individual accolades, he always brings attention back to the name on his singlet.
“This is a program with a lot of history, moments and memories, and I enjoy competing with my team.”
In a five-year wrestling career, Kulseth has had his fair share of moments, including a comeback win against the #2 ranked wrestler in the state in Fairmont while wrestling with an obstructive facemask from an eye injury or pinning Brant Buysse in finals of sectionals last season.
With each milestone and major win, Kulseth has maintained a level of humility as he climbs up the ladder of the St. James wrestling greats.
"To me, it's much more important to be a good person, no matter what," said Kulseth. "No matter what you accomplish, keeping the same work ethic and good attitude is key."
Kulseth mentioned a desire to wrestle collegiately, citing Southwest Minnesota State University as his preferred option due to their accomplished wrestling program.