BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Grant Berden kept busy during spring break as he won the NUWAY Individual Nationals Championship and MYWAY State Championship for his weight class.
Berden, a first-grader at Clarkston Elementary, defeated four wrestlers in the MYWAY State Championship in the 52-pound weight class, March 30.
“It felt really good,” he said.
He defeated Ryan Barbarino, 18-2, and Grady Ward, 6-4, before going into the semifinal match against Griffin Wallace, who he had lost to earlier in the season.
“It was a very nail-biting experience,” said his mom, Stacy. “It is the first time I have seen him be nervous about anything. Then, he ended up winning. It was a great moment. The semifinals was almost more exciting than the finals.”
“I was scared because he was going down to 52 pounds when he was at 55. I knew what he was going to do,” Grant said. “He tried to throw a head lock and I shot. Then, it got all mixed up and I sat on him.”
He added when he gets nervous, he works through it by telling himself no one has worked harder than he has.
“He was worried he would get on top and ride him out because of the weight. They had a plan, but we had a plan, too,” Stacy added.
He won the match with a pin and went on to win the championship with a 10-0 win over Bradley Burtch.
He also won the NUWAY Individual Nationals Championship in the 49-pound weight classe with wins over Easton Sanderson, 12-1; Owen Lacey, 6-0; and Anthony Jordan, 9-1.
“I’m very happy I won,” Grant said. “My hard work paid off”
He also won the MMWA State Championship for the second time, March 10, the MYWAY Metro Regional, March 17, and the MMWA Central Region, March 3.
Grant began wrestling when he was four years old and is in his third year. He shared that his dad, Joe, wrestled and his brother was interested in the sport.
“I tried it out and I wanted to do it,” Grant shared. “I love wrestling because if you lose you have no one to blame but yourself. If you win, you know your hard work has paid off. I love the one-on-one contact.”
He credits his success teammates, coaches, parents, and Bo Nickal, the three-time national champion from Penn State University.
“After he won the national finals – that’s what I wanted to do,” Grant said about Nickal.
He also went on a trip to watch Nickal and had his picture taken with him.
“It was the best,” Stacy said “It was a really cool moment for him. After that he was just ‘what would Bo Nickal do?'”
Grant added his parents help in his success by “they get all these amazing people really good at wrestling to practice with.”
“We seek out people to practice with. We travel a lot,” Stacy said. “It’s why we joined so many clubs so he has a lot of different kids around his weight to work with.”
Coaches help by pushing him to work hard, teaching him new techniques and cheering him on.
Grant practices 3-4 nights a week and is motivated to work hard and keep up on training because his opponents are working just as hard to beat him. Right now he wrestles for Centerline and Holly and looks forward to wrestling for Clarkston in middle school and high school.
“When I wrestle for Clarkston High, I hope Joe Wood is still the coach,” he shared.