Seniors place top 10 in state wrestling championship

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Courtesy of Carrie Nenonen

Getting ready for the state championship, seniors James Griffin and Brayden Eddy finish their practice as they stand with their friends, holding a poster of the competition bracket. On Feb. 15, they practiced at St. Charles High School. “As soon as I found out that I was going to state, I instantly knew that all my hard work had paid off to this moment,” Griffin said. “It felt awesome to be able to represent our school at the state-level competition.”

As loud cheering echoes throughout the stadium and cameras flash to capture the perfect image, seniors Brayden Eddy and James Griffin celebrate their victories at the state wrestling championship, completing the final matches of their high school careers.

“This competition was definitely one to remember,” Griffin said. “The large crowd, the memories all throughout high school and all the hard work we put into practicing and performing all paid off. Being a part of this wrestling team is awesome, and it felt great to enjoy such a great experience over the last four years.”

They represented the school at the Missouri State High School Athletic Association (MSHSAA) state wrestling competition, held at the University of Missouri arena. This was the first time a student has qualified from our school since 2007.

“The best part of the state competition is that there were four people from four different districts, and it was set up as a bracket. It really got me excited because I knew who I was facing before the match,” Eddy said. “It felt great to be in this tournament and to be one of the first from the school in a while. It [was] the most exciting and fun tournament I have played in.” 

In the first round for each district, the number one ranked athlete wrestled against the number four ranked athlete, and the number two ranked athlete played against the number three ranked athlete. After round three, there was one person remaining from each district, and they played each other until there was a winner. 

Courtesy of Keith Eddy
Standing in front of the arena, Brayden and James prepare for their matches at the state championship.

“When I entered the stadium tunnel, I had to line up with other wrestlers that were also competing. As I moved up, I could see the mat in front of me. Once my match came up, It was really cool to see all the people, and as it got really loud with everyone cheering, I felt the intensity,” Eddy said. “I will always remember this experience, and It felt great to represent our school in this rare opportunity.”

After making it to the pre-season nationals tournament and the state championships for the second consecutive year, Griffin felt prepared by his previous experience in learning that wrestling is not all about winning. 

“Last year at [state], I got quite nervous before the matches, and I felt mentally unprepared because there were so many people. I felt a lot of pressure to win. This year’s competition was much better because as I got better and improved, everything seemed to slow down, and it became a lot of fun,” Griffin said. “I realized that it didn’t even matter if we won or lost. What did matter was the way I felt. After the competition, I learned that having a good mindset is the best thing to have.”

Griffin has been on the team since his freshman year, and he entered the final season after winning the two-time all-American medal at Adidas Nationals. He finished the season with a winning record of 46-4 and won a record for having over 100 career wins.

“I felt honored to get 100 wins, and after looking back at my entire experience on this team, I feel amazing. I feel like I accomplished a lot and came a long way from where I started,” Griffin said. “The best part was that I was able to improve each year, and I never thought I would be where I am today.”

I realized that it didn’t even matter if we won or lost. What did matter was the way I felt. After the competition, I learned that having a good mindset is the best thing to have.”

— James Griffin

In addition to Griffin’s successes, Eddy also finished the season with a winning record of 39-12 and recorded 31 pins over the course of the season. 

“I am really excited to be a part of this team, this year especially. During the competition, I was really nervous. I was really in my head about winning, and I kept telling myself, ‘I gotta win, I gotta win’. This year was my last year, and I felt like I might as well have some fun,” Eddy said. “After I won my last match, I was just standing on the mat smiling. I was having such a good time, just being there and being able to wrestle alongside my team.”

Over time, Griffin has learned how the best way for himself to improve in wrestling, was to learn from his losses.

“The most important thing to do is to just keep practicing. Just keep working and expect to lose a lot. The only way to get better is to learn from your losses, then take that into the next match,” Griffin said. “I was not the best my freshman year, but as I kept working hard, I ended up where I am today: at the state championship.”

Along with their individual success, Eddy and Griffin have become leaders amongst their teammates through motivation and hard work.

“I am very proud of [James and Brayden] and the success that they have both had throughout their high school careers. It’s been way too long since we had a state placer, and I’m glad that these two rose to the occasion to get the job done,” coach Zeke Allison said. “Both of these athletes take the sport of wrestling very seriously. In our practice room, they are the ones telling everyone to step up and to work harder. They never go through a drill easily, or take a second off, which is great for our younger wrestlers on the team to see how you are supposed to practice drills.” 

Allison started coaching the team when Eddy and Griffin were freshmen. They have now been working together for four years and have revived the wrestling program.

“This group has helped us turn around the program, and they have helped it grow from seven kids to 40 [kids]. They have also helped lead our team to three Conference Championships in a row,” Allison said. “I have really enjoyed this group of seniors, and I hate to see them all go. They have helped us pave the way for this program and for the upcoming future.