Geneseo’s Hunter Grau grappled with some of the best wrestlers in the country as he competed May 25-28 at the 13th Annual National?High?School Coaches’?Association Wrestling Duals in Virginia Beach,?Va.
Grau, an incoming freshman at Geneseo High?School, finished the national competition with a record of 4-3 at 115 pounds.
“It was a fun experience getting to wrestle against kids from around the nation,” said Grau. “I also got a chance to meet new friends.”
Grau, the only representative from Geneseo and just one of three from Illinois, was invited to be a member of Team Young Guns Midwest to compete in the folk-style tournament.
“There is a lot different competition compared to here. There are a lot better wrestlers,” he said. “I think I can run with the best and be the best if I put my mind to it.”
Grau said he was use to the atmosphere at nationals because it was similar to competing at the IKWF State Meet for the Geneseo Spiders Wrestling Club.
“I knew there would be a whole bunch of people there, but I just set my mind on the guy that was in front of me,” said Grau. “But having been at the IKWF State Meet helped calm my nerves.”
To reach his 4-3 record, Grau won his opener in an 8-2 decision and pinned his next opponent, but later lost by pin. He bounced back to win by technical fall in his next match, but lost the next two before beating a two-time state champion in overtime, 4-2.
“It was a positive experience, and I learned how tough it can be to run with all the tough guys who are out there,” said Grau.
“I am proud of what he has done because he is a small-town kid competing with state champions from all over,” said Hunter’s dad Tim?Grau.
Grau began wrestling at the age of 7 and his biggest influence was his grandfather, Steve Grau, who wrestled, but passed away the year before Hunter started to wrestle.
“I think I would be better if my grandpa was around helping,” said Grau.
Grau said the first tournament he ever competed in he won and that started to get him more involved in the sport.
“What I like most is being out there on my own competing and not having to rely on others,” he said. “The toughest part for me is overtime.”
Grau plans on attending three or four wrestling camps this summer and hopes to make it back to Nationals next year.
Grau is the son of Tim and Susan Grau of Geneseo and Deanna Crosiar of Orion.