By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Another state wrestling championship now sits on the trophy shelf of Eli Griffin.
The Cascia Hall junior gained a gold medal for the third straight year in late February when he won the Class 4A 113-pound weight class in the state tournament in Oklahoma City.
Griffin beat Ashton Grounds of Tuttle in a 9-3 decision.
Staying calm, wrestling smart and giving credit to the Creator was the key to winning, he said.
“I didn’t want to make any bad decisions,” Griffin said. “I just relaxed and didn’t allow any stress going into the match. Just knowing that I’m doing everything for God. Whether or not it goes my way or whether or not I win my third, all that hard work and all my success goes to God. It’s not about me.”
Griffin now looks to next year where he will be going for a fourth title in his senior campaign. If successful, he would be Cascia Hall’s first four-time state champion since Mike Bizzell accomplished the feat from 2002-05 and the 41st in Oklahoma.
Griffin moved up to 113 pounds from 106, where he had wrestled his freshman and sophomore years.The adjustment worked out well, he said.
“It was great,” Griffin said.“I didn’t have to cut as much weight as I did my sophomore year, but I felt strong and was cutting enough weight where I was bigger than a lot of guys. I felt a lot stronger, more quick and able to wrestle more my style at 113.”
Wrestling requires maintaining the weight in which wrestlers prefer to compete. That often means dieting or avoiding certain foods or both, which is not easy.
“For me, it’s all about mental toughness because you’re going to want to break and you’re going to want to eat something that you shouldn’t,” Griffin said. “I just maintain a healthy diet and workout super hard. If my weight is not where it is supposed to be, I don’t starve myself, I just go and workout more. It is really just making sure you’re not starving yourself and actually have the nutrients you need to have a great practice and not waste a day in practice because you haven’t eaten anything.”
There are times when Griffin is faced with temptation.
“I just think of the bigger picture,” he said. “A cookie or a piece of cake at 17 is not how it’s going to pay off, and by the time I’m out of college and done wrestling, I’ll be able to have as much of that as I want, so I just think of the bigger picture.”
As for college, Griffin has visited as many as nine schools and has committed to California Baptist, located in Riverside, Calif.
“The coaches are strong Christian guys and the wrestlers are very strong Christian guys and I just love the atmosphere,” he said.
In the meantime, Griffin will be doing freestyle wrestling through the offseason. The key to preparing for that fourth title will be staying focused and staying sharp.
“I will be focusing on the little things to make my technique as perfect as I can be,” he said.
“It is just a matter of getting better and going through the opportunities that the sport gives every year. I don’t really compare seasons too much. It’s a matter of getting better, giving Glory to God and having fun throughout the season.”