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Running for the Record
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Running for the Record

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by John Miller
photography by Justin Eiler

The impressive athletic resume of Barnesville’s Brady Tweeton almost never came to be, but when faced with certain challenges, Tweeton has conquered obstacles to become an elite-level performer.

Tweeton began playing sports in preschool when he was only four years old. Despite being young, he still had a competitive edge, hated losing, and wanted to do well at everything he attempted, paving the way for him to be a standout athlete at Barnesville.

Wrestling was the starting point for Tweeton at the age of four years. His parents signed him up for a wrestling program, and he has been competing in the sport ever since.
“My first memory that comes to mind was Brady competing in the Northland Youth Wrestling (NYWA) competitions,” Tweeton’s mom, Ann, said. “He first won State as a kindergartner and again as a sixth grader.”

Tweeton proceeded to pick up baseball in first grade because many of his friends played. He also joined his pals on the football team a few years later in fifth grade.

Though Tweeton always insisted he was fine and would continue to be fine, there was a time where his future as an athlete was not clear.

One morning after waking up, Tweeton noticed something was not right with the movement in his hand. He was unable to make a fist and immediately told his mom there was a problem.

After multiple visits to several different doctors, Tweeton ended up going into the Mayo Clinic. At Mayo, he was diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis at the age of 13. The arthritis was present in his left wrist, elbow, ankle, and toes.

Despite his diagnosis, Tweeton never doubted his ability to overcome the obstacle laid in front of him, and knew he would push through it without his future as a high school athlete being affected.
When asked if he ever considered that his future playing sports could be altered by arthritis his reply was, “Never once. I just tried blocking it out of my life like I never had it.”

Three years after being diagnosed, Tweeton was informed that he was arthritis-free.

“It feels good,” Tweeton said. “I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to get rid of it, but now that the arthritis is gone, I feel great.”

According to Tweeton, one of the main benefits of playing several sports is, it aids with interacting in a team-oriented environment.

“Playing different sports definitely helps build team chemistry,” Tweeton said. “We’re all from a small town so we know one another and are all friends.”

There is a common belief that a good wrestler makes a good football player, a theory Tweeton and his coach believe. He said being good at taking down an opponent in a wrestling match translates to being a good tackler on the football field.

To prepare for his senior year, Tweeton attended football and wrestling camps over the summer. He also stays in shape by running and lifting weights throughout the year.

Last season was big for Tweeton, as he submitted his name for Barnesville’s record books by rushing for a single-season-school-record 1,901 yards.

Tweeton broke the record when Barnesville faced Caledonia in the Minnesota Class 2A State Tournament. He ran the ball 15 times for 146 yards and a touchdown. Tweeton’s receiving was also utilized in the game, as he had three catches for 52 yards.

“It’s an awesome feeling knowing I have a school record,” Tweeton said. “During the game I was unsure how close I was. I heard one of the coaches mention that I was nearing it, but didn’t know for sure until I was told of it after the game.”

Tweeton’s performance in his junior season leaves him between 1,100 and 1,200 yards shy of Barnesville’s career rushing record; something he will strive to achieve in his final season as a Barnesville Trojan.

“A goal for me this season is to break the record,” Tweeton said. “I’m hurt right now, so it will be tough to achieve since I’ll miss some games.”

Last season Tweeton excelled on the mat in wrestling as well by taking third place at the State tournament ending that season at 40-2. For his senior season, he hopes to end up at the top of the podium, as a State champion.

For some, superstitions and pregame rituals are not a part of their game. Others, like Tweeton, believe in doing the same routines both before and during competition.

“I wear the same pair of shorts and sweatshirt during my warmups before every wrestling match,” Tweeton said. “If I get a hit during a baseball game, I try to have the same routine before my remaining at-bats. Before football games we always have music playing in the locker room before a game, then have five minutes of silence to help us get in the right mindset and focus on playing well.”

Tweeton credits his father for getting him started in sports and for being a role model. His dad played the same sports and has always encouraged Brady to be his best.

Over his career, Tweeton has become a role model for his teammates by setting the standard of working hard on and off the field.

“I try to stay as positive as I can and motivate the team to push them to their limits,” Tweeton said. “I encourage them to work harder and harder.”

Brady’s mother vouches for his strong work ethic and desire to constantly improve himself.

“He’s been like this since he was very young,” Ann said. “He’s a very competitive kid who likes to succeed. Whatever his older brother Josh did, Brady was determined to achieve the same success as his brother did.”

Ann said Brady puts in a substantial amount of extra work at home. She said he often runs on the treadmill and does pull-ups with his brother. Brady and Josh are very close and like working out together. They played the same sports, which was fun to watch for Ann when they played together.

“My favorite year was when Josh was a senior and Brady was a sophomore,” Ann said. “They were both running backs, so it was fun watching them play together and stand in the backfield with each other.”

Brady is being recruited for both college football and wrestling, but is unsure of what he wants to do after high school.

No matter if Brady does or does not reach his goals of becoming a state champion in wrestling and becoming Barnesville’s all-time leading rusher, it’s not for lack of hard work and dedication.