Wrestlers Learn From All-American

By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

Nearly one year from the games in Tokyo, an Olympic hopeful paid a visit to St. Marys on Monday.

As part of a two-day camp, the St. Marys wrestling program invited four-time All-American and USA World team wrestler Tyler Graff to speak with Roughrider wrestlers and teach them techniques. 

Both camps run 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with the final day Tuesday at Cook Gym.

Graff said he knew some of the St. Marys kids through camps he has attended in the past.

“The sport of wrestling brings you across a lot of good people and a lot of good people I have met in life have come from the sport,” he added.

Not originally from Ohio, the Loveland, Colorado native said he has had contact with a number of Ohio families, like the Hiseys. Twins Trevor and Tyler are incoming sophomores on the St. Marys team and have worked with wrestlers such as Graff and other prominent numbers in the wrestling community.

“In time, I got to see the boys grow — not only as wrestlers — but also as young men,” Graff said.

Graff said he was going to show kids different techniques and skills as well as give them a workout and push them to better their practices during the two-day camp.

“A lot of the summer is focused on giving them the opportunity to try things that they don’t typically do,” he said. “During the season, they have down their arsenal implemented and sharpened, but right now it is about trying to build on what they have.”

The 30-year-old said he received a great response to the roughly dozen kids — mostly St. Marys student-athletes — and added that its compliments to the coaches and the St. Marys program — which has been thriving the last two years.

The Roughriders won the regular season in 2017-18 and finished runner-up in the league standings each of the last two years — including back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Western Buckeye League Wrestling Tournament. The program also produced a state qualifier this past winter in Noah Vogel — its first state qualifier since 2009 — and a state alternate in incoming senior Tommy Mabry — who is on the cusp of earning his 100th career victory this coming winter.

“They obviously run a very disciplined program and they teach the kids discipline and good work ethic,” Graff said. “And it shows every time I come here. These kids work and they also enjoy it. They enjoy the challenges so it makes it fun for me.”

The program has also had other well-known wrestlers come to St. Marys earlier this month, including Kyle Kwiat — an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio Northern University and is the school’s only two-time NCAA Division III champion as well as a four-time All-American. He holds the school’s top wins list at 158-16. During his athletic career, he led the nation in tech falls with 15 in 2012-13 and with 25 in 2013-14. Roughriders assistant coach Tim Hisey said the most important aspect of inviting wrestlers is to teach kids life lessons, on top of improving their wrestling skills.

Graff is a four-time NCAA Division I All-American at his time wrestling at the University of Wisconsin from 2010-2014 and placed tuner-up in the 133-pound weight class in 2014. He also started at 141 pounds for Wisconsin during his junior year.

He was also a member of the US National team in 2016-2017 and is a member of the USA World team this year at 61 Kg — roughly 134 pounds — while also being a 2020 Olympic hopeful.

Graff will compete in the World Championships Sept. 21-22 in Nursultan, Kazakhstan. Also in his sights is a coaching gig at Rutgers University.

“From now until then, I am getting ready for an international tournament that will lead me up to that world championship tournament,” he said. “I’ve been wrestling my whole life. I don’t know when I started, but I would say from the time I wrestled with siblings to watching WWE and thinking that stuff was real, I would say I have wrestled my whole life.”