Brayton Lee after winning his third state title (Photo/Paul Tincher, IndianaMat.com)
Brayton Lee, a senior at Brownsburg (Ind.) High School, is one of the nation's top wrestlers in the Class of 2018. Lee finished his high school career as a three-time state champion with a career record of 164-1. He signed with the University of Minnesota in the fall and is part of a 2018 recruiting class that includes Gable Steveson, Patrick McKee and Ryan Thomas, among others.
InterMat caught up with the Gopher signee to talk about his career, decision to attend Minnesota, wrestling goals and much more.
You capped off your high school wrestling career with your third state championship in February. Did you take some time off from wrestling after the state tournament?
Lee: After my senior season I took 2-3 weeks off the mat. I tried to let my body heal up some and train a little differently, but I'm always doing something. I just lived like a kid, went on runs, lifted and tried some CrossFit.
You dominated your competition within the state of Indiana. Was it difficult staying motivated against Indiana competition you were far superior to?
Lee: Staying motivated this year wasn't really difficult for me because I'm super passionate about this sport and have lots of emotions so there is a lot that keeps me running. I always want to give my best as well.
You attended your first NCAAs in Cleveland as a spectator. What was that experience like for you?
Lee: Everything about my first experience being at the tournament was amazing. It was by far the most electric wrestling environment I've ever been in. Being such a fan of wrestling, it was very fun being in a city and in arena with a bunch of people like you and being able to chat about all the matches and see what they think. The NCAA tournament was super inspiring. How can you not want to be on that stage? It's what us wrestlers dream about.
Your close friend Chad Red became an All-American as a freshman at Nebraska. What was it like seeing him become an All-American in his first NCAA tournament?
Lee: I was so proud seeing one of my best friends reach one of his goals, and the way it happened was thrilling. Being with him his family after the moment was super emotional. I'll remember that moment for the rest of my life.
You were able to wrestle and chat with Jordan Burroughs in Cleveland. What did you take away from your time with him?
Lee: Jordan Burroughs is one my favorite wrestlers. I'm constantly watching his matches. He's a great all-around role model. I didn't take anything specific away from Jordan, but just the fact that he asks, 'How are you?' just shows how caring and cool he is. Being able to roll around and mess around with him is always so fun. Just how powerful he is, is so unique.
Brayton Lee picked up a win at Who's Number One (Photo/Juan Garcia)
You're set to face Jacori Teemer at the Dream Team Classic. What are your thoughts on that matchup?
Lee: I'm super excited and so grateful to be able to wrestle at my high school one last time. I think the matchup will be super fun. I want to score lots of points.
What does your competition schedule look like this spring and summer?
Lee: I wrestle April 14 at the Dream Team Classic versus Jacori Teemer, U.S. Open at the end of April, and then the Junior World Team Trials.
When you were being recruited, what attracted you to the University of Minnesota?
Lee: The tradition of Minnesota is just amazing. Every time I got to see coaches Becker, Eggum, Schlatter, and Sanders I was pumped. I feel like each one of them can help me out a tremendous amount in life and wrestling. The people in Minnesota really attracted me to Minnesota and it felt like home every time I was there. I was also super excited about all the guys in my recruiting class. We are all like-minded and I couldn't think of a better group of teammates.
Beyond happy to become a gopher!! This is my commitment to the University of Minnesota! GO GOPHERS!!! pic.twitter.com/zOKiPCfxvA�" Brayton Lee (@brayton_lee4) November 14, 2017
What excites you most about getting to Minnesota?
Lee: I'm just super excited about being there and living out there while being able to wrestle and grow as a wrestler and man.
In what area of your wrestling do you feel like you need to make the biggest gains in order to successfully transition to Division I wrestling?
Lee: I definitely think I need to make my biggest improvements on bottom. There are so many great to wrestlers in college that can ride, turn you, and really slow down a match. I have always loved wrestling on my feet so much and winning matches through neutral so I need to make sure I really work on bottom to be able to handle the transition.
You're coming in with Gable Steveson, the nation's top recruit. Obviously, he competed in Indiana before moving to Minnesota. What's your relationship like with Gable?
Lee: I'm super excited to become teammates with Gable. We are pretty close. It's always fun getting around Gable and having fun.
Have there been discussions with the Gopher coaching staff on whether you will redshirt or compete for a starting spot next season? Do you have a preference?
Lee: We haven't had much discussion about redshirting or wrestling. I trust in the coaches and think either decision will be solid. I don't really have a preference. I think both routes could be beneficial. I'll be ready either way.
Brayton Lee compiled a career record of 164-1 in high school (Photo/Paul Tincher, IndianaMat.com)
Where do you expect to compete weight class-wise in college?
Lee: I'll most likely be wrestling 149 pounds or 157 pounds.
What can Gopher wrestling fans expect from you when you compete?
Lee: I think Gopher fans can expect a wrestler trying to score as many points as possible and letting it fly always, a very high pace, aggressiveness and lots of energy.
What are your long-term goals in wrestling?
Lee: Ever since I've been young I've dreamed of being a four-time state champ, four-time national champ and Olympic champ. But most importantly, I want to reach my full potential and use wrestling as a platform for God.
This story also appears in the April 13 issue of The Guillotine. The Guillotine has been covering wrestling in Minnesota since 1971. Its mission is to report and promote wrestling at all levels -- from youth and high school wrestling to college and international level wrestling. Subscribe to The Guillotine.