A much bigger world opened up for Garrett who will now represent Missouri in the Cadet National Dual Team Championships and also wrestle in a national tournament in July in both greco and freestyle wrestling.
The offseason is not a concept that really registers in the world of Camdenton’s Grant Garrett.
His sophomore campaign on the mats this past winter was largely a dominant one that resulted in a 50-6 record and his first trip to the Class 3 state tournament in Columbia. However, he did not get to come home with a medal and when the curtains closed on state in February, it was not the end for Garrett who simply decided to get back to work.
“I’ve been in the practice room pretty much since the season ended and have not really stopped,” said Garrett who has been engaged with the sport since the age of 4.
“Everything you learn in the offseason wrestling-wise is going to help you. People think the offseason is optional, but you cannot have an optional offseason. You have to always be on the ready because that is what it takes to win matches.”
Well, his efforts and desire to improve have not been in vain. Garrett wrestled in the greco and freestyle state tournaments in Sedalia on May 4 and 5 for the Camdenton Wrestling Club and walked away as the greco state champion at 145 pounds while finishing third in freestyle in the Cadets division.
As a result, a much bigger world opened up for Garrett who will now represent Missouri in the Cadet National Dual Team Championships and also wrestle in a national tournament in July in both styles of wrestling.
Not a bad alternative to narrowly missing out on a state medal just a few short months ago during the high school season.
“I would say it was definitely redemption in a way. I would love to get another shot at state and any match can go any way, but I was not wrestling smart,” said Garrett who initially reached the quarterfinals but exited the tournament with two tough defeats that kept him outside the top six and off the podium. “Once you look back at things, you start to learn from them and I think that is one of the reasons I did so well at state this year for greco and freestyle is just because I looked at my losses and really evaluated and learned from them.”
It is a mindset Camdenton coach Grant Leighty is pleased to see and the coach was just as excited for Garrett to be rewarded for his efforts. One thing Leighty has emphasized to his team is that there are more lessons from the mistakes made in life because people remember them better and Garrett has consistently been learning from his mistakes by continually showing up in the wrestling room.
“To have that kind of dedication, that is what you want and it becomes infectious,” the coach said. “I’m sure there have been times he has been tired. He gets up at 5:30 in the morning, works til 2 or 3 in the afternoon and is in a wrestling room at 5:30 or 6 at night. To have that kind of commitment, it takes something special inside you.
“He has shown that and I just truly believe he loves wrestling and enjoys being around the camaraderie of the other wrestlers there involved with this style of wrestling. It makes you feel good when you know you are a part of the best of the best. That is what helps you get through the hard times and he has found that so that is very rewarding.”
Greco, short for Greco-Roman, is a style of wrestling where opponents engage each other strictly above the waist and throws are much more common. Freestyle allows wrestlers to take lower shots and what is typically seen during the high school season. Garrett capped off his greco tournament in Sedalia with a 5-point throw, which Leighty noted was fairly uncommon.
“It was an outstanding throw so he felt real good about that and it gave him the thrill and excitement to keep working as hard as he has,” the coach said.
Garrett may seem small upon first glance, but the state champion can pack some power in his moves.
“People think greco is going to be all upper body, all throws and you think big and strong guys are going to succeed,” Garrett pointed out. “I’m not that big or strong, but what helps you succeed is learning the technique and learning how to get lift and power from lift instead of just learning full-on strength. It is not just all strength, but technique, too.”
Well, there will be plenty of opportunities ahead to perfect those throws and freestyle techniques as well.
The summer of wrestling continues this weekend at the Southern Plains Regional Championships in Mulvane, Kan. Garrett will also be joined by teammates Cale Bentley and Colten Libby who will also look to qualify for the same national tournament in July in Fargo, N.D., that Garrett made the cut for. There is also another Laker in youth wrestler Cooper Rhodenizer who qualified for a national tournament in Wisconsin Dells, Wi., June 27-29.
As for Garrett, once his time on the mats in Kansas wraps up this weekend, he will fly out to Spokane, Wa., on Monday to wrestle with the Missouri dual team that will also be competing in Prairie Village, Kan., later this summer.
“It is a great feeling knowing I am going to be representing our state. There are only 50 states so out of the top 50 in the country, I’m one of those guys going out there and representing,” Garrett stated.
“I’ve been going to practices every day during the week, working out and keeping myself in good wrestling condition... It is just staying on the grind all the time. It does not stop, you have to keep going.”
Another motivating factor is remembering the feeling of getting the hand raised on the mat when being declared the winner.
“I’ve always known wrestling and I feel like it is just a way for me to express myself more than any other sport because wrestling is a team sport, but not a team sport because you are going out there and you are on your own,” the soon-to-be upperclassmen said. “You win a match and just going out there and getting your hand raised knowing you are stronger mentally and physically is good to know. Knowing you are the better man is a great feeling and that is what keeps me going.”
The Camdenton Wrestling Club is selling T-shirts to help cover the cost of entry fees and travel expenses and there is also a fundraising fish fry that is being scheduled around the end of June or early July.
“It is good to see what other people in the community can do in terms of paying for things we cannot always pay for,” Garrett said.
“The fundraising means a lot to me because it means I’ve got people out there supporting me from the community. It is crazy because you look at wrestling and it is one of those sports that you don’t get a lot of recognition and all the glory, but it feels good whenever someone steps up.”
Leighty certainly did not hesitate to advocate for his wrestlers and especially one like Garrett whom the coach referred to as an ambassador for the way things should be done in “Laker Land.” The coach said Garrett is the kind of leader he wants for the team and the school.
“He is a kid that goes out and gives you everything he has, does not complain, keeps grinding away at it and to me, should be an inspiration to all our athletes and students here. Good things come to those who work hard and are disciplined,” the coach said.
“Anybody that can help, we would greatly appreciate it and the kids would appreciate it. They would be able to repay the constituents of this district with their success and I think they’ll feel proud they helped those kids.”