Christian Brunner: Collegiate Curtain Call

#wrestling @cbrunner197: Collegiate Curtain Call @purduewrestling

Finishing out his senior year at Purdue, 197er Christian Brunner received All-American honors. Brunner had a fantastic year, going 25-6, his best season in college, and qualifying for the tournament for a fourth straight year. Brunner, now graduated, is eyeing some international tournaments to continue to see where wrestling takes him.

Christian Brunner started wrestling at a young age. The sport runs in the family, but it was actually WWE that had him stumbling onto the mat.

“So, I started wrestling when I was 6. My dad wrestled in high school in Michigan. I started watching the WWE and I was like, ‘Man, I want to be a wrestler!’ Of course at the time I had no clue it was not the WWE. I was trying to convince my mom and dad to let me wrestle. Eventually my dad took me to a practice and I fell in love with it right away. I’ve never turned back. I knew pretty early that this is all I wanted to do, just wrestle and see how far it could take me.”

Don’t count on Brunner getting in bed with Vince McMahon, however. He says his professional wrestling fandom died out pretty swiftly once he started wrestling. “No, that died out pretty quick when I started wrestling.”

Christian Brunner, Being All-American and The Pandemic

Being named an All-American is always an honor. But, much like his teammate, Devin Schroder told us in his interview, the honor is a bit bittersweet. Not being able to wrestle in the tournament was a stinger for the entire Purdue team.

“It feels great. It’s kind of not the way we all wanted to get the All-American status. But, given the circumstances, I kind of understand. It feels great, a big weight lifted off my chest with everything I’ve been trying to do in college wrestling. It feels good.”

As a senior, Brunner has the last moment to wrestle in college taken away from him by the pandemic. He recalls that moment and how much of a sucker punch it was not just for him, but for his entire team.

“I remember I was in the training room getting ready for practice. SportsCenter was on the TV there and they just announced that March Madness was canceled. I was going through that whole practice just thinking that, ‘This cannot be good.’ Then my coach at the end of our practice was like, ‘Hey everyone, leave the locker room.’ They broke that news and it was just a straight punch to the gut.”

Lifelong Memories Made

Despite the tournament’s cancellation, the good memories from his NCAA wrestling days far outweigh the bad. Christian Brunner has some of the most fond memories going all the way back to his freshman year. But, it was his senior season and the cohesiveness of his team that he believes he will remember the most.

“Honestly, my freshman year, my favorite moment was when we stopped South Dakota State. It went down to the wire. We all wrestled tough and that’s a pretty tough environment to be in as their fans are pretty crazy. Honestly, this whole year, our team and traveling with those guys. It was great. We had a real bond this year we’ve been pushing for for a long time. Everything just started to click this year. Going through the season and seeing everyone get better and everyone starting to peak for the quarantine, looking back at it. I would say just being around all the guys this year and traveling. It was a lot of fun this year.”

Purdue is in a great spot as a wrestling program. With wrestlers like Christian Brunner, Dylan Lydy, Devin Schroder and Kendall Coleman, it’s a testament to the program the coaching staff is building. Brunner recalls the evolution in the locker room and how they’ve improved every year and just came to trust the coaching staff more and more.

“I think a lot of it comes down to trust. At first when I first got here, it wasn’t like it was this year. You had guys on the team that weren’t 100% buying in. This year, we all fought for each other. We all cared about how everyone else was doing which we might not have done well in years previous. We just are trusting the coaches a lot more and trusting each other. They know what they’re talking about since they’ve been doing it a lot, especially our coaches. Just trying to share advice with everyone and help everyone through the season. Having fun, too, that’s all. Having fun through the season.”

Now that he’s graduated, Brunner can snitch on his teammates. When asked who was the class clown in the locker room, he points to the 133er. “I would say Travis Ford-Melton, our 133 pounder,” Brunner said with a laugh. “He’s a pretty funny guy. He can always get everyone to laugh pretty good.”

Taking on the Freestyle Scene

As for the future, Brunner has two plans. He wants to smash out as many international tournaments now that he’s a graduate. The second is preparing him for vet school, a passion of his.

“I’m planning on this coming year to do some international tournaments and help out the team as much as possible. I’m applying to veterinary school and I won’t find out when I get in until this coming March. I’ll have a year where I can wrestle and try to hit as many freestyle tournaments as I can. Then after that, it’s going to be seeing how much wrestling I can sneak away from vet school to do. This next year I plan on hitting freestyle pretty hard. Then after that it’s all going to be about class schedule for the next four years.”

Whatever lies ahead of Christian Brunner, he will always carry wrestling with him. The hard work, dedication, and lessons learned along the way will help Brunner in his journey though life.

Be sure to follow Christian Brunner on Twitter and Instagram to follow his journey through the freestyle international scene and beyond!