While wrestling continues to be a learning process for him, Evans High School wrestling team captain Matt Gruba is learning patience.
After a 2012-13 season in which he went 36-17 while advancing to the state tournament, Gruba has missed time since hurting his knee in the season’s opening weekend at Westside, where he went 2-0. He had to sit out the following week’s Columbia County Wrestling Championships and is waiting for clearance to fully participate.
“It’s been really frustrating,” said Gruba. “It’s frustrating mainly not being able to wrestle. It hurts a little bit, but it sucks not being able to get out here on the mat with the guys.”
The Knights’ senior began wrestling in 10th grade. He impressed the coaches with his effort and was named team captain.
“He’s got a good work ethic” said head coach Rich Davis. “He’s here every practice, he buys into the coaching philosophy and he’s just made the transformation. His 10th-grade year he took a lot of losses, but he worked hard over the summer, he worked hard last year and he went to the state tournament. That’s quite a transformation for someone who started wrestling his 10th-grade year to make it to the state the next year.”
Wrestling at 195 pounds, where he expects to wrestle again by the end of the year, Gruba lost his first two matches at the state’s double-elimination tournament and was ousted. He plans to use that to his advantage,
“I got shut out but now I know the kind of competition I’m going to face,” said Gruba, who said he built up confidence over the summer. “I know what caliber of wrestler I have to be. I’ve got to be faster, for sure. I have to trust myself on the mat, not second guess everything I do.”
Gruba got into wrestling because he had done martial arts previously and wanted to try something new. He enjoys it for a few reasons.
“It’s challenging,” said Gruba. “I love the challenge. The intensity and the extreme competition. I like how it’s more individual. You have to prove yourself.”
He also enjoys his role as captain.
“I take a lot of pride in being a captain,” Gruba said. “I always see myself as a little bit of a leader. I try my best to lead the guys and set a good example and keep’em all in shape, make sure they’re not walking their miles and stuff.”
While in wrestling limbo, Gruba is also having to wait until mid-December to hear back from his first school of choice, Georgia Tech.
While he doesn’t plan on wrestling at the varsity level, he figures to remain active.
The future engineering major said he plans to “definitely stay involved” in the sport.
“All the schools I’ve applied to have at least a club program,” Gruba said.