(February 25, 2011) Grady Jarrett can add state champion to his impressive list of high school athletic accomplishments.
The Rockdale High School senior heavyweight defeated Southwest DeKalb’s Gabriel Echols 6-0 in the 285-pound championship last week.
“I just felt like it was the cherry on top of a great high school career,” Jarrett said. “One of the things I had on my accomplishment goals was to succeed in it. I feel really good about winning.”
Jarrett achieved a 43-4 record in his senior season on the mat, earned two All-State titles in football, two All-star football games and many other accolades.
In early February he signed his official letter of intent to play football at Clemson, but he still wasn’t content on leaving his high school career as was.
The reason for that discontent was a 6-2 loss to Logan Winkles of Upson Lee in the 2010 wrestling championships. Ever since then he has one goal in mind when training for the wrestling segment of his busy high school athletics’ schedule.
“Last year I got to the semifinals and lost,” Jarrett said. “So I know I wanted to come back and win it all, because I kind of felt like owed it to myself.”
In order to win it all, Jarrett went straight from the football field into the wrestling room and didn’t let up for hardly a minute during weight training or practices.
A year ago he felt that he was still leaving something on the mat, wasn’t giving it his all. But this year that wasn’t the case as he raised his focus to a level that wasn’t matched in 2010.
“Every match this year I gave it my all, last year I didn’t,” Jarrett said. “I feel like that’s why I didn’t win. I didn’t want to have any regrets this year. Every match I went in focused and ready to wrestle.”
Jarrett maintained that focus throughout the entire championship match, even though it was a forgone conclusion early.
He was up 4-0 into the third period, but still didn’t relent and was able to give the Bulldogs their only wrestling state title.
“Probably last 30 seconds when I was on top (I knew I would win),” Jarrett said. “But, I just had to keep a level head until time ran out.”
The championship journey was a long one for Jarrett, who didn’t know much about the sport when he first started. However, since then he’s leaned on the expertise of Rockdale coach Craig Hargrove. Hargrove supplied the only instruction for the 2011 AAAA state champion, instruction that Jarrett says is the best in the state.
“From knowing just a little bit about wrestling to making me a state champion, I give him a lot of credit,” Jarrett said. “I think he’s one of the top coaches in the state for that. Our team, we can do everything, and some teams can only do a few things.”
And for Jarrett, he has now done everything he set out to do in high school, with the state championship being just the latest highlight in a career full of them.
“It’s up there with signing with Clemson,” Jarrett said.