Corrigan, Bruss making marks on college mat
By William Soquet
Max Bruss and Shane Corrigan have a lot in common.
Both come from wrestling families.
Both are De Pere High School graduates.
Both wrestle collegiately at the NCAA Division II level.
And most importantly, both are nationally ranked in their respective weight classes as the postseason draws near.
Bruss is a redshirt junior at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. He owns a 27-3 record in the 2022-23 season, wrestling in the 174-pound weight class.
“So far, it’s gone great, but obviously the work is not done,” said Bruss about his current season.
Corrigan is a true freshman at UW-Parkside in Kenosha. He is 27-6 this season, wrestling in the 125-pound weight class.
“Season’s been going awesome for me so far,” Corrigan said. “Obviously, there’s been some learning moments with being a true freshman, but it’s been great.”
At the beginning of the season, Corrigan was planning on using a redshirt year. That changed quickly.
“It was definitely something that wasn’t easy to decide, but talking to my coaches back at home, my parents, my family, coaches here, I just thought it was the right decision for me and the team at the time. It’s definitely been paying off,” said Corrigan.
He noted that it is a transition to go from high school wrestling to collegiate wrestling.
“Every match is far more difficult because everybody is pretty good,” Corrigan said. “You don’t get to the college D-II level and you’re not a starter for no reason. Everybody’s good. It’s just been a lot of fun with my team having a lot of success too — we’re going to win our conference title.”
Matt Kincade coached Corrigan at De Pere High School.
“From the time Shane came in, we knew we had something special with Shane,” Kincade said. “He was small as a freshman and honestly that’s probably what kept him off the podium his freshman year. Talk about a guy that battled adversity, was in the finals his sophomore year, couldn’t punch the golden ticket, was in the finals his junior year, couldn’t get that gold ticket. But as a senior, he came in, wrestled fantastic — 51-0 and won a state title.”
Despite the jump in competition level, Corrigan said that he feels right at home on the Rangers wrestling squad.
“I’ve fit right in, bonded with these guys,” he said. “I spent the summer down here training and getting to know guys and getting to know the team. We’re bonding great, doing a great job in that field.”
Bruss is in his fifth season wrestling with the Marauders and wound up using a medical redshirt his sophomore year. The COVID-19 pandemic also helped his eligibility situation.
“I started as a true freshman at 149 [pounds], and then I hurt my knee my sophomore year and I took a redshirt,” Bruss said. “The following year was COVID, but we were able to wrestle a shortened season. Did some conference duals, had regionals and I qualified for nationals that year. But because of COVID, the NCAA gave us that year back, so that didn’t count against me for anything.”
He is planning on returning to UMary for his final year of eligibility in 2023-24.
Bruss has gone from the 149-pound weight class to 157 and has settled at 174 for the past two seasons.
“There’s definitely a difference in the style of wrestling and what you have to do to succeed [in different weight classes],” he said. “Wrestling at 149, it’s a lot lighter, guys are a lot smaller, a lot quicker. I would say speed is probably the biggest difference and the quickness of wrestlers. The more you go up, they’re either short or stocky and just strong or they’re a medium build. The more you go up, the stronger the wrestlers get, and with that, the slower wrestlers wrestle. Bumping all the way up to 174, making that jump, I didn’t know how I was going to do against stronger opponents — I was kind of undersized my first year at 174 so I didn’t know how that was going to go. I was not a fast wrestler at 149, I was probably one of the slowest wrestlers in the conference, let alone the country at 149 pounds. Going up to 174, I think that it benefitted me because I’m more equal to the speed of other wrestlers. I’m a lot stronger than most other people I wrestle, so I think that benefits me there.”
Kincade noted that Bruss excelled both on and off the mat at De Pere.
“Max was probably one of the hardest working kids I’ve ever had the privilege of coaching,” Kincade said. “Max was not always the most talented from a technique standpoint or he wasn’t always the strongest, but when he came into the room every day, he would attack it. There was nobody who was ever going to outwork him. By the time he was a senior, I think that there were some people that the took by surprise. He wound up in the state finals, and he was right there, he could have won that match. His freshman year was my first year as the De Pere head coach, so he was one of the integral pieces in changing the culture from what it was before.”
Corrigan recalls seeing Bruss from afar when Corrigan was in middle school and Bruss was wrestling for a state championship.
“I remember being around the program and stuff with my uncles, I remember being down at the state tournament to watch his senior year run to the state finals,” Corrigan said. “That was awesome to look forward to that and say ‘I want to be out there someday. I want that to be me.’”
Both Bruss and Corrigan have siblings who wrestle.
Bruss’ younger brother Sam is also on the UMary wrestling team.
“He’s a great practice partner, I practice with Sam probably three days a week,” Bruss said. “It’s fun, getting to still be able to compete, not in wrestling, but in college. We grew up wrestling around the house and in the high school wrestling room. Now we get to do that at a higher level. It helps with being away from home too, we’re 10 hours away from De Pere.”
Corrigan’s younger sister, Brooke, was crowned as the inaugural WIAA girls wrestling champion in 2022.
“It was awesome to see someone that I care so much about do big things,” Shane Corrigan said. “It was awesome to see our family’s hard work and everything go into that be successful and to see the outcomes.”
Bruss is ranked second in the nation at 174 pounds and Corrigan is ranked fifth at 125 pounds.
Bruss said that it doesn’t matter to him.
“It’s just background noise. I’m not looking at them every day or every week or whenever they do the updates,” Bruss said. “People talk about it, our social media guy, whenever a new ranking comes out, he makes a social media post about it. At the end of the day, you can’t get caught up in rankings.”
Corrigan takes a lighter attitude towards them.
“You love to look at the rankings. It’s cool, everyone loves to look at that and see that number five in the country,” Corrigan said. “It’s not a big deal to me. I know that I’m a true freshman, not a lot of people like to put true freshmen high in the rankings.”
Both have their gaze firmly fixed on the postseason.
“You can be unranked coming into the tournament, have a .500 record and you can qualify for the national tournament,” Bruss said. “There’s no at-large bids like there are at the Division I level. Anything can happen in two weeks — you throw the seeds out, and there’s been multiple times in the past few years where the number-two-, number-one-ranked guy who doesn’t even qualify for the national tournament. You just got to block out the noise, focus on the next match and wrestle hard.”
“I’m so excited for the postseason,” Corrigan said. “Go out there, have fun, score points, keep doing what I’ve been doing all year.”
Additionally, both believe that they can make it all the way this year.
Bruss stated that “the goal is to win a national title. That’s what I’ve been working towards all year.”
Corrigan is a little more ambitious.
“I want to be a national champ,” he said. “I don’t want to go out there and win the national title, I want to go out there be the most dominant dude in the national tournament. I want to go out there and put on a show for the crowd.”
Their high school coach has a full load of confidence in both.
“Knowing those two individuals and the coaches that are coaching them now, they will be extremely prepared,” Kincade said. “I expect nothing but the best from both of them. They live for this, this is the time of year they get to shine.”