Reflecting after four years: senior James Griffin aims for state title

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As senior James Griffin pins his opponent, his teammates cheer him on. Griffin has a record of 34-2 this season and has committed to Lindenwood University. “This season, I feel like I’m more on top of my game. I feel like everything is starting to come together and click,” Griffin said. “I’m definitely seeing it in my wrestling, and another thing is that it’s starting to slow down for me. Last year, everything used to be really fast, and it felt like I didn’t have time to think. Now, everything has slowed down for me. I’m understanding patterns a lot better and peoples’ movements, so the biggest thing is that it’s slowed down for me.”

After being defeated multiple times at wrestling tournaments his freshman year, senior James Griffin made a promise to himself that he would do better the next time. Griffin fulfilled his promise as he is 34-2 this season and hopes to continue this trend at state.

“I found my passion for wrestling at the end of freshman year. I started wrestling to keep in shape for football, but after I lost at districts by one point, I decided I wanted to keep pursuing it and really enjoyed it,” Griffin said. “Although it was kind of a team sport, there’s also the individual aspects of it. [For example], if I got better, I could directly see the results, and I can influence how many times I win.”

Griffin looks back to his freshman year when he initially struggled with the sport. However, after his dedication, training and focus paid off, he began to notice certain patterns of his wins that he lacked his freshman year.

“At first, I definitely lost a lot, but as I kept wrestling really hard guys and kept losing, I learned a lot while I was losing. I think it’s helped me get better and better after taking a lot of losses,” Griffin said. “I just learned from small and big mistakes, like ‘oh, I could’ve done that better in that match’ or ‘he did that, and I know how to defend that now.’ I [really learned] how to wrestle by losing.”

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Senior James Griffin faces his opponent after the first period at the Longhorn Invitational.

In hopes of perfecting his craft, Griffin reviewed and studied films of his matches.

“I hadn’t stopped wrestling since the end of junior year, so I practiced everyday during the off-season. I always rewatch film even if I win or lose. I’m always rewatching film, breaking it down and seeing what little mistakes that I’m making and how I can improve on that,” Griffin said. “Then I go into the practice room and try to just improve on those skills. I think I’ve executed [my training] pretty well so far. I have a better understanding of wrestling now than I did before so I think it’s helping me tremendously.”

After seeing the improvement in his game, Griffin wants to win at state as this is his last chance to do so.

“I’ve been saying it since my freshman year that I’ve wanted to go to state and get a state medal, but this year, I’m running out of time so I might as well get that state championship title,” Griffin said. “I think putting all my techniques out there on the line is gonna help me beat anyone I come across at state.”

Griffin has drawn interest from multiple schools including Lindenwood University, Missouri Baptist University and Maryville University. After contemplation, Griffin decided to attend Lindenwood University.

“[I chose it] mainly [because of] their academics [because] they have a really good computer science program. The way they have it set up is they have a lot of tutors and people will sit down with you and help you learn,” Griffin said. “The athletic side is geared to your academics so you can have dedicated study halls to sit down and study and they make sure you are going to your classes. So the sports that I’m playing are basically forcing me to do well in school. With all that in combination, I really wanted to go there.”

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As senior James Griffin tussles with his opponent, he attempts to get the upper hand.

Looking forward to transitioning to college, Griffin hopes to improve his skills.

“Don’t be scared to lose. I see a lot of wrestlers get out there and they say ‘I lost, I’m bad, I’m not that good’; like I said freshman year, I got beat many times, but it only made me a better wrestler,” Griffin said. “Don’t be afraid to lose and learn from your mistakes.”