Sherando’s Borst places second at Fargo

John Borst

John Borst enters every wrestling tournament aiming to win. Never is his goal to simply be the runner-up. But the Sherando rising senior felt few qualms about his second-place finish at the USA Wrestling Junior Men’s Freestyle National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota, this past weekend.

Borst, a two-time Virginia High School League state champion and Virginia Tech commit, traveled to Fargo as the 10th seed in the 128-man bracket of the 195-pound class. None of the major wrestling websites that Borst reads predicted him, or any other wrestler, to topple Ben Darmstadt of Ohio, he said. Borst knew he was the underdog, and he wanted to continue building a name for himself with a solid tournament showing.

Darmstadt, an incoming freshman at Cornell University, fended off Borst for a 10-0 tech fall victory in the championship final at the FargoDome on Saturday, but the Sherando grappler said Monday afternoon that he “definitely started rising my stock a good bit” after a showing that culminated in All-American status, a title reserved for the top eight finishers, for the first time in his wrestling career.

“I was looking to win it all … but for people to not even think I was gonna (be) an All-American, I definitely shut some people up and kind of proved them wrong,” Borst said. “So taking second, I’m not ashamed of it. I’m very happy and humbled that I’ve reached that point, and it just proves that if I go back next year I’m ahead of everybody else now. So with a finals experience under my belt, it’s a good thing.”

Borst, who lost to Darmstadt at the Super 32 Challenge in North Carolina last year, he said, knows the Ohio grappler as an offensive wrestler and entered Saturday’s matchup trying to give up as few points as possible. Borst said he had to “change my mindset a little bit” for the bout and admitted he wasn’t as aggressive as he should’ve been on the mat.

“There was a lot of good things I did in that match just as (there were) many things I did bad in that match,” Borst said. “My head position wasn’t where it should’ve been. My scrambles weren’t as good as his, so I kind of got outperformed.

“I’m glad I got to experience it. At the next level, at the Division I level, I take that match. I improve over the next couple summers, over the next year, year and a half, two years, and maybe I see him at the NCAA tournament. I take it there easily.”

Borst, who has won back-to-back VHSL titles at 170 and 182 pounds, reached Saturday’s championship round by rolling through his first six matches of the tournament. His performance began with a 9-1 decision over New Jersey’s Van Miller in the first round, which he followed with five tech fall victories.

“After that (first round) it was just catching fire,” Borst said. “I was beating Nebraska state champs, Pennsylvania kids. Everybody that was ranked higher than me just kind of started going down and all the sudden I’m in the semifinals against Miles Lee from Pennsylvania, and it was kind of do or die after I got over that quarterfinal hump. I just went out there and I just kind of felt flawless almost, like so crisp and everything in all my movement. I was just calm and relaxed on the big stage, and I ended up in the finals like it was nothing, so it felt really good.”

Borst said his best performances at Fargo came in the quarterfinals and semifinals, which resulted in 10-0 wins over Nebraska’s Colton Wolfe and Lee, respectively. Wolfe, Borst said, is a three-time Nebraska state champ and earned All-American status at Fargo last summer.

“It was kind of a defining moment because I had never made it past the quarterfinals,” Borst said of his win over Wolfe. “I’d made it to the quarterfinals in every single Fargo trip I’ve made but never got past it, so to go in there and kind of dominate that match, it was kind of a turning point in my head and for like my whole Fargo career, in my opinion.”

Borst, who plans to wrestle at 195 for Sherando this winter, said his next major tournament will come in October at Super 32. He won’t have to worry about facing Darmstadt again in North Carolina.

“This year is kind of like, all right, well, Darmstadt took the best two out of three, I’ll give him that, but now that he’s out of the way I’m coming full head of steam into this tournament,” Borst said of Super 32. “I’m afraid of nobody at this tournament. Nobody’s striking fear into my heart at all, so I’m definitely looking to go after that belt.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or