A trio of wrestlers in Camdenton junior Grant Garrett, Eldon senior Kaden Dillon and Versailles senior Riley Rademann have all surpassed 100 career wins this season and are clearly in pursuit of more as the journey of their careers continue to unfold.
The Lake area has generally not disappointed in producing some great wrestling and there are a trio of wrestlers this year who have especially held up the mantle.
A trio of wrestlers in Camdenton junior Grant Garrett, Eldon senior Kaden Dillon and Versailles senior Riley Rademann have all surpassed 100 career wins this season and are clearly in pursuit of more as the journey of their careers continue to unfold. All three are returning state qualifiers, two are returning state medalists and as nice as all that may sound, none of it has come without adversity as well. The stories of each wrestler are still being written, but one thing is certainly clear- the passion for the sport is undeniable.
GRANT GARRETT, CAMDENTON
Most wrestlers would be glad to reach 100 wins by the end of their career. Garrett accomplished the feat on his home mat in the season-opening dual of his junior season.
“For any wrestler to achieve that at the beginning of your junior year is an incredible feat. That just shows how hard he works during the season, during the offseason and how committed he is to wrestling,” Camdenton coach Grant Leighty said after the big win on December 5. “There are very few wrestlers that hit that mark as early as he did. I don’t know if you can count them on two hands in the whole state in the history of wrestling.”
Garrett narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Class 3 state tournament as a freshman and just missed out on a medal while wrestling in the state tournament as a sophomore. None of that has deterred him from pushing forward as he racked up half of his 100 wins last season alone while becoming a greco state champion over the summer. That title run gave him the opportunity to represent Missouri in the Cadet National Dual Team Championships while he also wrestled in other national tournaments.
“It is just everything,” Garrett said of his love for the sport, “but I’d say my favorite part is just the grind. There is no other sport where you don’t get any days off. If you are doing it right you are working 10 to 11 months out of the year. I can say that wrestling is the most athletic sport there is because you are just going at it all the time.”
And while picking up the 100th win will certainly serve as a nice memory, he will always remember where it began.
“It just shows all the years, time and effort that has gone into it. I really think a lot of it comes from here, the practice room,” he said of reaching 100. “Having good teammates that help me work, good leadership and good coaching. It is just a retroactive look back at everything I’ve ever done and it feels pretty good.”
Garrett has taken inspiration from Nick Purler who was a former three-time high school state champion in Missouri and went on to become an NCAA All-American, Big 12 champion and a member of a national championship team at Oklahoma State before starting his own wrestling academy. For any Laker who aspires for 100, Garrett could not emphasize practice enough.
“I believe it was Nick Purler who said that the drill is not done until you’ve done it 1,000 times. You are never perfect until you’ve done it 1,00 times,” the junior noted. “One of the key things is that no matter how good you think you are you can always be better and drill to make yourself better.
“I just say keep grinding, going after it and never give up because that is the best thing you can do. Just never stop.”
Leighty said that kind of approach is why Garrett has been successful and his passion is evident as he takes the time to help coach junior varsity or young wrestlers in Camdenton’s Youth Club.
“He is up here three nights a week at kids’ practice helping those kids. Those kind of kinds don’t ever say it, they just show you,” Leighty said of the passion. “They come in, work hard, and are committed to not only the high school program, but the program in general.”
Now that the junior has crossed 100 wins off the list, a state medal is obviously the next line item on the agenda. Garrett reached the quarterfinals a season ago and Leighty has no doubt that the junior will leave the mat satisfied.
“We are not gong to worry about wins and losses, but wrestling smart and tough and the winning and losing will take care of itself,” the coach said. “I think he’ll achieve everything he wants to in high school wrestling and prepare himself for the next level.”
KADEN DILLON, ELDON
There can be a lot to learn from any wrestler who reaches a milestone like 100 wins and if there is anything Eldon coach Ryan Bird could teach his wrestlers about Dillon, perseverance would be near the top of the list.
“He was hurt his freshman year so he did not wrestle, came back his sophomore year and out of nowhere won 45 or 46 matches and ended up on the podium at state,” Bird said of a season where Dillon finished sixth in the Class 2 195-pound class. “Last year he dislocated his knee cap early in the season, did not miss a whole of matches, kept going and kept winning.
“He shows up every day, goes to work, is the hardest worker in the room and he is a leader. It is good for guys like that to get some accolades.”
Well, another accolade Dillon was able to add to his resume was another sixth place finish at state as a junior to become a two-time state medalist in a tournament where the wrestler was fighting the injury bug once again in the later rounds. Near the start of his senior season, the 100th win came in the Spartan Duals at Moberly on December 20.
It is a big win. Not a lot of people could say they’ve accomplished 100 wins,” the senior said of reaching the century mark. “It is definitely one of the greater achievements I’ve gotten in high school.”
And upon doing so, Dillon got to join big brother in Eldon’s esteemed club. Trenton Dillon, a 2018 graduate and state champion for the Mustangs, previously reached the mark and the two have a younger sister in freshman Anmarie Dillon who is currently seeing success in her first season on the mats for Eldon.
“Not a lot of people could say they’ve wrestled with their brother throughout their high school career. I’ve done it every year and at Christmas he still comes back and helps me,” Dillon said, giving older brother some credit.
Bird has had the privilege of coaching all three and recalled the fun he had coaching Trenton and Kaden at the same time.
“They are two completely different people and they are both hard workers and good wrestlers,” the coach pointed out. “Trenton is more reserved, quite and serious and I’m not sure K.D.’ has a serious bone in his body until it is time to strap on the headgear, football pads or whatever it is. As far as the practice room, it is 100 percent effort all the time. They are both vocal leaders, the hardest working guys in the room and we are seeing the success that brings. He (Kaden) has 100 wins in just over two years so that is big.”
As much fun as the experience has been, unsurprisingly it has been the perseverance wrestling requires that has drawn Dillon to continue to step inside the circle. He enjoys the individual responsibility.
“You have to hold yourself accountable in this sport,” he said. “You have to do it yourself. Coaches, teammates and everything are a big part and in the endgame it is all about you. You have to win, push through and everything like that.”
So to meet those standards, Dillon noted that being consistently present at every opportunity to improve and paying attention, whether it is in the wrestling or weight room, is key.
Bird also pointed to the things Dillon does off the mat such as earning good grades, showing up early and staying late and offering a helping hand to anyone who asks. Overall, he is looking forward to finding out the conclusion of his final chapter at Eldon.
“We know where he can be, which is always the goal,” the coach noted in reference to the top of the podium at state.
“It will be fun to see him get there, not going to say it out loud,” the coach continued jokingly, “but we know where he can be and where his goals are so we are going to do everything we can to get him there.”
RILEY RADEMANN, VERSAILLES
Rademann has continuously moved his way up the proverbial ladder in the sport of wrestling.
For someone who only began wrestling in eighth grade and had a rough start in the high school ranks as a freshman, earning 100 career wins well before the end of his final campaign with the Tigers is a welcome addition for the returning state medalist.
“I think he only won like nine matches as a freshman so that really kind of is a testament to how much he has improved since that time,” Versailles coach Shawn Brantley said after Rademann picked up the signature victory in the Versailles Invitational on December 14. “He is the 14th wrestler in school history to hit 100 wins and we still got several to go so he is going to make his way up the list. It is a huge accomplishment for him.”
After his first trip to state as a junior where he finished sixth at 195 pounds in Class 1, the senior is certainly hungry to continue making his way up that ladder.
“It is pretty cool,” he said of 100 wins. “It is definitely and accomplishment, but I still got more stuff I’d like to add to my wrestling resume.”
And Brantley has seen that desire for improvement firsthand for the past four years.
“Just watch how he has kept working,” Brantley said of the improvements. “Just the way he has kept working, making sure he is improving, coming in the summer and hitting open mat and the weight room. You don’t see him cutting weight here at the last minute. He does everything the right way so I hope these younger guys are paying attention to that and seeing how it is supposed to be done.”
No matter how Rademann’s story concludes when the postseason arrives in February, he will continue to enjoy each trip to the mat and the process of getting better. For any other wrestler who has similar ambitions, he hopes they never lose the desire to work, either.
“The constant grind,” the senior said of his love for the sport. “A lot of my friends wrestled, too, and that is actually why I started wrestling in eighth grade. My friends still wrestle, but when you meet someone else who wrestles it is just cool and something you bond over.
“Work no matter what,” he continued. “I’ll be honest, I was terrible my freshman year. I did not think I was going to win a match and now I am a state medalist and state title contender so just work no matter what.”
Brantley is excited to find out how this final chapter ends as well.
“We’ve had several matches not go our way here recently, but that does not change a thing. Our ultimate goal is to be at the top of the podium and I think he has learned from these few losses he’s taken and he is going to improve,” the coach pointed out. “I think he has a legitimate shot to be at the top of the podium.”