Waterford native takes 3rd in Division 3 at 120 pounds

Catholic Central freshman Henry Amborn (right) competes at the state wrestling tournament at the Kohl Center in Madison in late February. (Tim Burd/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk


While many people will be plopped down on their couches, or posted up in their favorite local establishments watching March Madness college or high school basketball next month, Catholic Central freshman Henry Amborn will be in Estonia.

That’s right, Estonia.

You know, the country in Europe, near Russia, halfway around the world.

And it won’t be for a leisurely spring break excursion where Amborn and his family will be soaking up the sun.

Amborn will be battling it out on the wrestling mat with some of the best the continent has to offer, in a large European Greco and Freestyle tournament.

It will be his fourth international trip for wrestling and second to Estonia.

He’s also been to Paris and Sweden.

It’s no wonder Amborn placed third at the WIAA Individual State tournament last weekend in Madison, where he competed at 120 pounds in Division 3.

He’s been tossing and pinning kids since second grade, when his dad Greg got him into the sport to keep in shape for football.

But after a concussion in football, Henry stuck with wrestling.

In his second match of this season, Henry threw an opponent to the ground but couldn’t get his hand out of the way.

The kid’s hip landed on Henry’s knuckle, breaking his hand.

Amborn finished the match and lost but had to sit out the next six weeks.

It was the first major injury of his wrestling career.

“It was hard for me,” Henry said Tuesday. “Because of how well people thought I could do for my freshman year. I couldn’t practice and couldn’t do anything.”

But the injury healed, and Amborn kept in shape by focusing on conditioning on strengthening his legs.

Amborn, only 14 years old, returned for the Metro Classic Conference tournament, where he placed second.

Unranked, he dazzled at regionals and sectionals and earned a trip to the state tournament, where he jumped into the rankings.

At state, he went 3-1 and beat the No. 1 and No. 5-ranked wrestlers at 120 in D3, proving he was healthy and one of the best in Wisconsin.

He won his third-place match against the same kid he beat at sectionals.

“I was in control of pace the whole match,” Amborn said. “I can’t not be happy with a state placement. I thought I could’ve done better in my first match.”

Catholic Central wrestling coach Jim Friend said Amborn was a bit nervous in his first match.

“Once he got confidence, he was the hammer the rest of the tournament,” Friend said. “He beat good kids. He was aggressive and defended well.”

Friend and former Burlington High School star wrestler Josh Bird, a two-time state champion, were the coaches for the Toppers’ four-man team.

Amborn credits Bird, who would wrestle him in drills.

“I can always learn something,” Amborn said of his coaches. “Coach Bird made a huge difference. He kept me confident and focused.”

Amborn says his favorite subject in school is Math, but his passion is clearly wrestling.

He hopes to be a state champion next year.

“Wrestling is so intense,” he said. “It is the most physically demanding sport. There are no off days. It teaches me discipline and focus.”