Trevor Grant is making his third trip to the NCAA Division II wrestling national tournament.
And the next two days in Cleveland will most likely be his final two on a wrestling mat — at least as a competitor.
He acknowledged the finality of it all, but he won’t dwell on it.
“This is my last go-round but I’m not approaching it like that,” said the 23-year-old senior at Colorado State University-Pueblo. “I don’t want to put pressure on myself like that. I’m very relaxed and am more excited about the opportunity.”
Grant (18-12) finished as the runner-up at 174 pounds in a super regional two weeks ago. He drew Zeb Whale (34-8) from Maryville, Mo., in the opening round Friday.
“I’m sure he’s good,” Grant said with a slight laugh. “At the national championships, they’re all good.”
Pack wrestlers Matt Addington of Florence and Ray Hall also qualified for nationals.
Hall (6-3) will wrestle Mercyhurst’s Francis Mizia (27-5) in the first round at 157 pounds.
Addington (8-10) drew Ty Loethen (21-7) of Central, Mo. Loethen is ranked seventh nationally at 165 pounds.
Grant is seeking his first podium appearance at nationals. The difference between this trip and his previous two, the senior from Winnemucca, Nev., said, is mental.
“I’m not settling,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I think in the past, I was just happy to qualify for nationals. I might have settled for just getting there. That’s not going to happen this time.”
Grant’s memories on the mat began 17 years ago when he was 6. He was a two-time state champion in high school and would like to think he’s taken as much from the sport as he has put into it.
“Wrestling has given me tools for life and has allowed me to grow as a man,” he said. “It, and my coaches and teammates, have taught me a lot of life’s lessons.”
Grant will graduate in May and was accepted into the dental school at Creighton.
“Wrestling was a means to an end for me,” he said. “If I don’t take at least that away from my five years here at CSU-Pueblo, then it would have been a waste.”
© Copyright 2016 The Pueblo Chieftain & Star Journal Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.