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Camdenton wrestling's Garrett and Davis look to inspire with major career milestones

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Camdenton senior Grant Garrett.

Camdenton senior Grant Garrett and junior Dakota Davis are building fairly impressive resumes. 

Garrett returned to the mats this season off a third place state finish, Davis is coming off a state quarterfinal appearance and both are among the top-ranked wrestlers in their respective weight classes this year. Garrett previously surpassed 150 career wins and is currently has the 11th most wins in Missouri history with 190 to his name and counting and Davis already secured his 100th win and is currently at 126. They will both likely finish at or among the top of Camdenton’s wrestling record books.

But, as successful as they have been and continue to be, both wrestlers have a larger picture in mind. It is not necessarily about what they individually achieve, but the standard and example they provide for others to follow. In other words, leave the program better than how they found it.

“My constant high school goal, my one that has been right below a state championship the last four years, is inspire others to be better than myself. I want to leave a legacy behind for my team to step up and be better than however I was,” Garrett said. “ In every aspect- grades, wrestling, life- I hope the example I set they will follow and do better than I’ve ever done. These milestones really make it to where people have something to look up to and fight for.” 

Camdenton junior Dakota Davis.

Well, Davis is one who has seen that example each day whether it is a dual, tournament or the daily grind of practice in the wrestling room. If Garrett ignited some sort of spark, Davis is hoping it will become a torch that can be passed down.

“I definitely want to inspire the others to work even harder and maybe even be better than me. Just do better and work hard,” the junior noted. “He (Garrett) does a lot with the team, getting us ready and warmed up, and is a good role model. Hopefully, the other kids follow right after him.”

Garrett, once a 106-pound freshman, has turned into a 138-pound wrestler who has eclipsed 40 wins all four seasons of his Laker career and is currently 50-1 as a senior after winning the second district title of his career over the weekend. He is a three-time state qualifier who is 190-20 overall and secured his first state medal a season ago. 

Davis was inspired to start wrestling as a seventh grader after seeing his brother Kaiden, Camdenton’s 182-pounder, battle on the mats. He saw some immediate success, finishing third at state in both seventh and eighth grade, and nearly reached state as a freshman before his first state run as a sophomore in the 285-pound class a season go. Now, he is 51-1 as a junior with his first district title and like Garrett, has his sights set on a Class 3 state title and the top of the podium. 

“They both just have a champion mentality. I don’t think either one of them are going to be satisfied with anything less than a state championship this year,” Camdenton wrestling coach Grant Leighty said. “It is going to be hard- both of them have super tough kids in their brackets- and heck, both of them have tough kids in their district. We just have to keep getting better every day, take it on the mat and put it to them and get after it. Try to have that mentality that nobody is going to beat us and I think they have that.” 

But confidence does not simply come out of nowhere. It is what they do each day in pursuit of the results they want. 

“Grant did not really take any time off. He was working all spring, all summer just like he always does,” Leighty said, despite a worldwide pandemic making itself known not long after wrestling season ended in 2020. 

“Unfortunately, we did not get to do the freestyle and greco,” the coach continued, referring to Garrett’s offseason success as a Greco-Roman state champion and appearance for Missouri in the Cadet National Dual Team Championships, “but he was still able to get workouts in and keep improving. 

The coach has enjoyed watching Davis develop, too. 

“Dakota being a two-sport athlete, that is where the competitive edge is, coming from football. He finally got the size,” Leighty pointed out. “He was a very small heavyweight last year and is a big heavyweight this year. We just have to get ourselves in as good condition as we can, which is hard.” 

Fortunately, the pandemic has not completely disrupted the season and the journey towards the state tournament began with districts over the weekend and sectionals to follow. Unlike previous seasons, each weight class in the state tournament will feature 12 of the state’s top wrestlers instead of 16.

“I’m a senior so every match could possibly be my last high school match,” Garrett noted. “I just go out there and give it everything I have every single time and I’ve always had that mentality, but it is different now with the possibility of having a season end.”

The senior also does not take the competition lightly, even with all the previous success and habit of winning.

“I would say for both of us, it is a certain level of success we are expecting. But, knowing the sport of wresting, nothing is expected,” he said. “That is why we just get in and grind all the time and never want to be satisfied with anything you’ve ever had. I know, personally for myself, a third place medal is awesome, but I’m shooting for the top.”

Succeed or fail, Garrett will be sure to soak in the memories, too, and the moments he gets to share with his teammates. 

“It is an unbreakable family for me. These guys have been my brothers in arms the last four years and I will always remember my high school wrestling experience,” the senior said. “The one thing about high school is a lot of your friends you have, you lose contact with over time, but I think we have a special bond. I don’t think I’ll ever lose contact wit some of these guys. I think they are always going to be part of me and I’m always going to be part of their lives, too.”

Davis is soaking it in, too, enjoying each day as it comes. 

“It is definitely a brotherhood. We live and die together, practice hard together and go through everything together,” the junior pointed out.

The examples they provide and the standard they will leave for others to follow is still unfolding. That desire is a fun process for Leighty to watch and he said one of the things he appreciates the most is how much Garrett and Davis support each other as they continue to tackle new milestones. No sense of jealousy, just being good teammates, and Leighty is hoping that kind of mentality permeates throughout his roster as each Laker grappler seeks to improve. 

“Grant is a senior and you see the end of the road, but he has been an outstanding leader. He has pushed other kids to be better and I think he is a huge factor in the improvement our program has had,” Leighty said. “He has put that mentality in those kids and that is what you want. I believe Dakota, Cale (Bentley) and Adrian (Kline)- those guys will take that role over next year and now we have four or five guys with that mentality. Hopefully, it feeds off on the other kids.” 

One example the coach has already seen is that of 113-pound junior Kaden Stivers who is currently 29-10 this year after finishing second at districts.

“Kaden is a kid who never wrestled for us freshman year and he has come as far as any wrestler I’ve had in a short amount of time,” the coach noted. “I think he is going to be a great leader next year, too, and that is what I’m most happy about, I am going to have a group of leaders next year. We have a chance to get better every year the next two or three years, for sure, and that is what you want and have to have.”

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132