BY DAVID PEDERSEN
After capturing a state wrestling title as a sophomore, Rockford’s Ty Griffin was knocked off his perch last season, placing fifth at state. The senior is on the comeback trail, going 17-1 and ranked No. 2 in the state.
At last Saturday’s Zimmerman tournament Griffin won the title at 132 pounds, earning the title of most outstanding wrestler. He earned the honor when winning the Maple Grove tournament earlier in the season. Griffin also claimed the crown at the recent Brooklyn Center tournament.
The season is going much better than last year when Griffin suffered a knee sprain and was out of action for six weeks. He was trailing the No. 1-ranked wrestler from Eden Prairie with five seconds left. When Griffin attempted a desperation move he felt his knee pop. The next day he was unable to walk.
Griffin returned to the mat just one week before the section tournament. He did earn a third straight trip to state but then faced a “buzz saw of a bracket” that included three former state champs at different weights.
“I was very happy to be able to place and get on the podium,” recalls Griffin. “This year my main goal is to get to the finals again. What I learned from the past is to keep working hard in practice and don’t take a day off. Setting my mind to achieve the goal of winning another state title gives me better odds.”
Coach Larry Hunter said the outstanding wrestler award usually goes to a person who wins the toughest bracket or shows talent by dominating. At Zimmerman Griffin won the title match over the No. 7-ranked wrestler in his class.
“Last year I definitely felt the pressure of being a defending state champion and didn’t wrestle like my normal self,” notes Griffin. “This year I am back to where I am out there to score points and not worry about being defensive.”
Griffin has won 11 of his 17 matches by pin. He says he owes a lot of his success to his teammate and long time training partner Brad Johnson. The two are one weight class a part and have been wrestling together since the second grade. Both their fathers have served as their coaches along the way.
Todd Griffin and Bob Johnson serve as Rocket varsity assistant coaches. Ty adds, “Having our dads along the way has definitely been awesome. It is a cool bond that we all have.”
Johnson also earned a trip to state last season. This year he suffered a concussion early and recently returned to action. He won the BC tourney title at 138 pounds and was a close second at Zimmerman. Johnson is 9-2 overall.
Griffin also has a love for playing golf and has been a Rocket varsity leader the past two seasons. He also has enjoyed being a front runner on the cross country squad.
A motivation for Griffin has been working to achieve the goal of qualifying for the state meet four times. He placed sixth as a ninth-grader. The accomplishment would be a first at Rockford.
Rockford placed third out of eight teams at the BC tourney and was eighth out of 10 teams at Zimmerman when bringing only eight wrestlers, a result of the flu bug hitting hard.
Also at Brooklyn Center, Kado Cano placed second at 195, Fordy Thorson took third at 145 with two wins by pin, Dylan Graunke captured third at 152 and Max Gulsvig was fourth at heavyweight with two pins. He also placed fourth at Zimmerman.