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Janesville Parker senior wrestler Brett Perkins won his first 22 matches to open this season. Ranked No. 11 in the latest Division 1 state rankings at 126 pounds, he’s seeking to make the WIAA state tournament for the first time.

Angela Major

JANESVILLE

Brett Perkins is in the construction business.

The Janesville Parker senior is a member of the school’s Advanced Construction class. In conjunction with the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association, Perkins is one of a handful of students from Parker and Janesville Craig that are building a home from scratch to finish on Janesville’s east side.

The project started in September, and the home is expected to go on the market soon after its completion in May.

On the mat, Perkins is also building something special.

Wrestling at 126 pounds, Perkins is 22-1 on the season, suffering his first loss in the title bout of Saturday’s Fred Lehrke Invitational at DC Everest. Perkins is flirting with a top-10 Division 1 state ranking, coming in at No. 11 in the latest Wisconsin Wrestling Online poll.

A four-year varsity wrestler, Perkins is climbing up the ladder at Parker for all-time wins. He finished in third place at 120 pounds at last year’s Big Eight Conference meet. He’s been denied a shot at state the last two seasons after being eliminated at the sectional level.

Perkins said he learned a valuable lesson, especially at last year’s sectional meet.

“The biggest difference for me this season is that I’m not letting the little things get in my head like before,” Perkins said. “I know what I have the ability to do, but before all it took was one little thing to go wrong and it messed me up.

“And knowing this is probably my last season of wrestling has really motivated me, too. I’m more comfortable and just taking things one match at a time.”

Perkins is no stranger to the sport. He’s the youngest of six children, and he’s been a mat rat since he was 3 years old. Four of his five siblings wrestled, including his older sister, Kate.

Although the youngest, Brett said he held his own, for the most part, when it came time for All-Star wrestling in the Perkins family living room.

“It was a little bit of both, as far as giving and taking,” Brett said. “Things never really got out of hand. More than anything, it was a lot of good advice from all of them.”

Perkins is an honor student and plans to stay in the construction field upon graduation.

Parker coach Daniel Jackson believes Perkins could excel at the next level on the mat but said he has no doubt that Perkins will succeed in whatever he chooses to do.

“It’s pretty phenomenal what he has accomplished over the last four years,” Jackson said. “He has grown into such a leadership role for this team and brings such positive energy each and every day.

“Wrestling is such a taxing sport—both mentally and physically—and yet Brett has been able to persevere while maintaining academic excellence.”

Perkins has had offers to wrestle collegiately but said he prefers to stay close to home and to his family. He enjoys the hands-on experience he gets from spending his school-day mornings building a home.

Asked about working in the bitterly cold conditions the last two weeks, Perkins said that the majority of the exterior work on the home is done. He’s currently doing drywall work.

Although he enjoys all aspects of the construction trade, Perkins said detailed finishing is his favorite.

On the mat, he thrives on ankle picks and cross-face wizards.

On or off the mat, Brett Perkins is constructing something special.

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