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Following your dreams can lead to big rewards. Just ask St. Joseph-Ogden’s Griffin Meeker, who is living proof of that statement.
Meeker, who suffered a shoulder injury earlier in the season, weathered that storm with perseverance, and culminated an absolutely stellar wrestling season, winning the 2017 IHSA Class 1A State Championship 182-pound class in a 12-6 decision on Saturday evening at the State Farm Center on the University of Illinois campus.
Meeker’s opponent in the finals was a familiar face, Logan Winter of Clinton, who had defeated Meeker one week ago in the sectional final, something that was in the back of his mind ever since the defeat last week.
“I’ve pictured this moment every day this year, and I didn’t know who I’d be wrestling, but I definitely have thought about what it would be like to be called a state champion. Logan (Winter) is a class act, and after he beat me in the sectional, I knew I’d need to work that much harder to beat him, because I knew I would face him again this weekend,” an ecstatic Meeker said following his win.
Meeker becomes just the second state champion in wrestling at SJO, following Wesley Kibler, who won the 195-pound title in 2015. But the road that Meeker has taken to get to this point would deter almost 99.9% of anybody else.
Meeker has dealt with the shoulder injury for a majority of the season, and came back at the regional, almost two weeks ahead of schedule, thanks in part to some aggressive therapy that required several long drives for treatment.
Meeker’s coach and father, J.R., agrees that Griffin has endured a lot on his journey to the pinnacle of IHSA state wrestling, but also knows that everything that he has gone through has been worth every minute.
“It meant a lot for him to even get to that match with his injury, and to do what he did with the type of injury speaks volumes," the elder Meeker said on his son’s determination toward the ultimate prize.
Meeker has been wrestling since the age of five, and he said that he has been dreaming of this goal for a long time.
“I’ve had this goal of being a state champion for as long as I could walk, and making state all four years has finally paid off in a big way," Meeker added about the long-range goal that he has finally achieved.
Meeker was not the only Spartan grappler to reach the medal stand, as junior Jason Bowman placed sixth overall in the 170-pound class. Bowman lost his first match on Saturday by a 13-1 major decision to Rahveon Valentine of Lena-Winslow-Stockton to move to the fifth place match. Bowman then lost a tough 2-0 decision to Tyler Rolling of Sherrard to place sixth overall.
Mission accomplished, Griffin.