EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- He may not be a big guy off the mat, but when Eau Claire North’s Mason Phillips steps on the mat, he’s the one calling the shots. The #1 ranked wrestler at 138lbs in division 1 is back to state for the 4th straight year looking for his 1st state title. He’s our Osseo Automotive Athlete of the Week. SportScene 13’s Neil Hebert has the story.
Fifth place as a freshman, 4th on the podium as a sophomore and standing on that same spot as a junior has given Eau Claire North Senior, Mason Phillips, a chip on his shoulder.
“I’m never satisfied. I know there’s always another level,” Phillips said.
A school record 160-plus career wins and counting, the first in North history to qualify for state all 4 years, and many other school records have Phillips’ name plastered on a board of records in the North wrestling room, but one thing is on his mind.
“The most important thing that I see up there when I look is North has never had a state champion,” Phillips said. “My grandpa took 2nd and there’s people that have placed higher than me at the state tournament. I can be on that board as many times as I’ve earned it, but if there’s one record I really want to hold, it would be the only state champion so far for North High School, if I were to do it.”
He’s moved up 5 weight brackets since his freshman year at 106. Phillips’ wrestling style has changed, but his mindset is the same.
“At 106, I always thought I was quicker than everyone,” Phillips said. “I’m still that super quick 106-pounder, but now I’ve lifted for 4 years hard and worked my butt off in the weight room – strength of a 138 pound senior.”
A wrestler like Phillips comes as a rarity, especially at a school where wrestling isn’t a dominant sport. First year head coach, Jake Rehban, wrestled against North in high school in the late 2000s for New Richmond and said it was a struggling program. Having Phillips helped shift the program in the right direction.
“Having Mason on your team is an invaluable experience. He’s like another coach in the room. Even though this is his last year wrestling, you could come back in 5-10 years and see the impact he’s had on this program. You’ll see the ripple effect of the character that he has and all of the good things he brings to the table.”
Work ethic and a little bit of swag are what Phillips brings every match.
“I’m passionate about what I do,” Phillips said about the sport he’s been a part of since he was just 4 years old. “I’m passionate about this school and this wrestling program, so when I go out there, I put everything I’ve ever done in the sport of wrestling and I just try to hone that all in to that match. I just go out there and try to put on my best performance.”
His first match at the Kohl Center will be Thursday at 3pm against Appleton North,’s Brytton Goymerac. Phillips is ready for Wisconsin wrestling’s biggest stage.