“Bill, Congratulations! It is our pleasure to inform you that Craig Orlando has been selected as our Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Senior Wrestler of the Year - Mr. Minnesota. He will be officially honored at the MWCA Dave Bartelma Hall of Fame Recognition banquet on the first weekend in May. Please pass our congratulations on to Craig on this prestigious honor. Thanks Much and Congrats!” - Bill Schmidt
Imagine my surprise as I opened the email. Craig Orlando is Mr. Minnesota. Yeah, he is good. Yeah, he works hard. Yeah, he has the credentials, but MR. MINNESOTA, WOW! I mean, there are a lot of wrestlers to choose from, lots of repeat state Champions, some three, even a four timer; kids with amazing talent like Owen Bjerga. I had to do a little review of Craig’s history. Craig Orlando a senior at BHVPP with three state championships under his belt. Two time Academic All-State Team. A career record of 184-34 with 123 pins. His record at the MSHSL tourney of 18-2 (15 by fall), (his two losses coming as a freshman, then 18 straight wins), with 4 individual showings (3 state titles) and two team showings (6-0, all by fall.) Ok, his credentials show he has earned it.
Craig excels not only on the mat but on the football field. Craig has earned a number of football awards: Minnesota Vikings All State Team, All State 9 Man Team, Brainerd Dispatch All Area Team, Old Dutch Player of the Week, All Section Team and Academic All State, just to mention a few.
Brian Hartwig, Craig’s football and strength coach said, “Craig is a nice young man who is a coach’s dream. He has a great work ethic and he is not afraid of hard work. He deserves all of the successes he has achieved. I am excited to see what he can do in the future.”
Mike Mahlen, Verndale’s head football coach said, “Craig Orlando is one of the best players I have coached in my 51 years. He is a better person than he is a football player.”
In addition, Craig Orlando excels in the classroom with a cumulative GPA of 3.616. Mr. Orlando also finds time to help out at his school with different events. He is a member of the National Honor Society, is a part of the Big Buddy Program, is a sensory partner for younger students with disabilities, helps out with Special Olympics at his school and, of course, helps out with youth football and wrestling camps.
Greg Johnson, Verndale’s AD had this to say, “Craig is one of the most humble student athletes that I have had the opportunity to work with. Not only is Craig an outstanding athlete who is humble, he is also a great teammate. This is evidenced by the amount of respect and admiration the younger athletes show to him on a daily basis.”
The BHVPP wrestling team sets goals and talks about how the things you learn in wrestling will help you in other areas of life. However, wrestling is not the top of the list. As the head coach I encourage the athletes to find faith, spend time with family and then focus on academics and wrestling (in that order). Craig does many of these things since he is actively involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, his church, and he helps out in his community.
“As good as a wrestler that Craig is, he is an even better person. There has been many days throughout the season that he has singled out a JH wrestler and sat down next to them, talked to them and just hung out with them. He has an incredibly big heart and is always concerned about people's feelings.” -Mike Barthel BHVPP wrestling coach.
Craig Orlando has been selected as the Minnesota Wrestling Coaches Association Senior Wrestler of the Year - Mr. Minnesota. What an honor! Yes, Craig has worked very hard during his high school career. There have been countless hours in the weight room and on the wrestling mat to earn this award. However, what is most amazing to me is that Craig hasn’t left out any of the pieces that make him whole and truly who he is. He has spent time in his faith and with his family. He has focused on school work and has worked and played with friends, teammates and classmates. Yeah, he deserves it. . . . . .
Craig Orlando - MWCA Mr. Minnesota.
By: Bill Wagner
BHVPP Head Wrestling Coach