by Kenny Champion
Every year the Grandville wrestling team roster always seems to have a few wrestlers that are ranked, no matter how many seniors they lose. They still continue to produce great wrestlers who have the ability to compete at a higher level than most. We’ve interviewed Coach Bubba Gritter, Coach Aaron Grifhorst, and Jake Paganelli (varsity ranked wrestler).
How long have you been coaching?
Coach Gritter, the varsity head coach, has been a wrestling coach for 10 years two of those years were at the college level. Coach Grifhorst, the middle school head coach, has been coaching for 16 years. He has been at Grandville for 15 years, and 14 of those years were at the middle school level. He also coached at Lakeshore Middle School in Grand Haven where they had their first undefeated season in the history of their program.
What do you teach at a young level to get successful wrestlers in the long run?
Coach Grifhorst views middle school wrestling only as a stepping stone to get young wrestlers prepared for high school.
“I really don’t care about wins or losses or if we have undefeated seasons. My goal is to make sure each wrestler has the right building blocks to help them be successful in high school wrestling.”
In 16 years of coaching, Coach Grifhorst hasn’t had a losing season or really even close to having a losing record. Coach Gritter believes that if he can instill a good work ethic into his wrestlers and continuously test their ability to compete, then they’ll be successful wrestlers. Both coaches agree heavily that wrestlers need to perfect the basic positioning, moves, and wrestling knowledge before learning more advanced moves.
Do you practice the same series of techniques all the way up to the varsity level?
Usually, each coach typically has his own specialties and methods for teaching technique. However, they do try to align with one another. Coach Grifhorst tries his best to ensure the moves and even the names of moves to match up with the High School as much as possible to have a seamless transition into the High School program.
Why is the experience so important in wrestling? Coach Gritter says that in order to be successful, wrestlers have to be able to feel when moves are available in live matches, and trying things is the only way to really know whats right and wrong. Jake Paganelli is currently ranked 8th in the state at 171 pounds he has been wrestling for 10 years and started when he was 7 years old. Even though his wrestling career isn’t over yet, even he knows that without experience it is hard to get success. Without experience and knowing how to work your way through positions and take given opportunities during a match, a wrestlers success is limited.