Jenna Smith and Lauren Collis

Six days a week, all year round, hard work pays off once again for back to back champs Patrick Grayson (‘15) and Josh Nail (‘16) as well as a new reigning champion, Jeffrey “JD” Stone (‘15). Forge wrestling has made a tremendous impact on these wrestlers over the years, both on and off the mat, especially the seniors.

Wrestling has had a significant effect on the attitudes and development of these athletes in their social lives, confidence building, as well as their athletic endeavors.

“Before wrestling I was more shy and I was such a different kid and wrestling gave me confidence and an identity,” JD said, “Out there it’s just you and another person everything you do has a direct impact on your performance.”

Wrestling was a way for them to make friends and build strong relationships in high school, especially since they would all be able to relate to the hardships that they would face at practice, tournaments, and on top of it all, school.

“Even though we might fight during our season, and fight each other in the room, I think [I will miss] the bonds that I have made throughout high school,” Patrick said, “I’m just going to miss every day at the end of the day I have a group of friend that I know if something is wrong I could go to them.”

Having the opportunities to hang out with friends before tournaments and outside of just school is another way in which wrestling has helped them make friends and form bonds.

“I just like being able to hang out in the hotel with all of my friends, all the guys on the team, we had a great team, and they were all fun to hang out with,” Josh said.

Their families also had a large impact on  their wrestling success. JD was encouraged by his brother as well as his dad to start wrestling. Patrick and Josh were also thrown into wrestling by their fathers and it paid off.

“My dad said, ‘hey why don’t you go try wrestling this year,’ and I didn’t really want to but he told me only to try it for one year and that if I didn’t like it that I could quit but then I ended up loving it so I just kept doing it,” Josh said

Along with inspiring him to begin to participate in wrestling, Josh’s dad has been a major factor in his motivation throughout his years of wrestling. Josh’s dad is always supporting his ambitions of working towards reaching his full potential.

“He’s always around and always helping me, coaching me, and even when I’m not really happy that he’s on my back, he’s still motivating me,” Josh said.

Another source of motivation is watching their own teammates success and improving from their failures.

“Obviously losing the finals last year was big motivation, but also I wanted to be like the kids that were ahead of me and strived to be like the people that were better than me,” JD said.

Even amongst the three state champs there was a motivation watching the other’s accomplishments.

“As cheesy as this sounds my freshman year being on JV seeing JD wrestle as a freshman on varsity [was a big motivator]. I wanted that to be me someday so that was a big push for me,” Patrick said.

As Josh begins his transition into his senior season, Patrick and JD watch theirs come to an end. However their success won’t stop here.

“Its honestly a big relief  because it’s like a weight kind lifted off your shoulders,” Patrick said, “It pretty much like studying for a 4 year long test and you finally take the test and you’re like alright it’s over I’m good now It’s a struggle going back home now because you don’t really know what to do with yourself and I’m kinda glad it’s over.”

As they continue on to college they utilize the real life lessons that wrestling for forge has taught them over the years.

“It definitely takes a lot of confidence to be out there half naked in front of a ton of people. No matter what happens keep your head straight in any situation staying calm in tough situations,” Patrick said.

The two seniors, Patrick and JD, have made their journey through high school wrestling together but their journey isn’t over. As their high school wrestling careers are coming to an end, their overall wrestling careers are not. JD has committed to wrestle at Campbell University and Patrick has committed to The University of Nebraska Lincoln.