Southeast Valley's Graves fills plate with busy winter schedule
DAYTON — As a young kid, Aaron Graves played every sport he could — and loved every minute of it.
As the Southeast Valley junior got older, he knew football was his calling. He still loved to play basketball, though, and didn’t want to give that up.
Wrestling was also a passion in the early stages of his athletic life. He chose the hardwood, though, during the first two years with the Jaguars.
After announcing his intentions to play football for the University of Iowa, Graves thought long and hard about returning to the mat. So instead of choosing this year, the three-time all-state lineman just decided to do both sports.
“I wanted to go out for wrestling because it helps for football and leverage on the line. I just thought it would be fun,” Graves said. “A lot of Iowa linemen were great wrestlers, so I figured it would help a lot.”
As a youngster, Graves wrestled while in elementary school, and then again in seventh and eight grade.
“I wrestled in junior high a little bit, and when I was very young,” Graves said. “I lost one match in seventh grade, and went undefeated my eighth-grade year.
“I didn’t even think about doing both in high school at first. I just always did basketball, so that’s what I went with originally.”
Being a two-sport winter athlete has all but eliminated Graves’ free time, but he also feels more prepared for the rigors of football in the upcoming season and beyond.
“It’s a lot — doing both and lifting, too,” Graves said. “I don’t have as much free time as before, but that’s OK, because I’m getting good work in.”
His first match of the season was a little taxing, but the Jaguar junior has found his rhythm on the mat.
“It was very nerve-racking (the first match),” Graves said. “I hadn’t been on a mat in three years so it was a process getting back into shape for that both physically and mentally.”
Graves has compiled a 21-3 record to date. Fourteen of his 21 wins are by fall, with 13 of which are in the first period. His only losses are to Class 2A’s fifth-ranked Kamrin Steveson of Grinnell, and twice to Pocahontas Area’s second-ranked Dane Johnson.
“I think wrestling translates to football very well in that you use your hands and leverage to get the best angle to move the person in front of you,” Graves said. “The (Twin Lakes) Conference meet went well.
“I would’ve loved to have performed better in the finals match, but it is what it is and our team did well, so I’m not too disappointed.”
Graves was second at the TLC meet. His only loss was the 285 pound championship tilt to Johnson, 6-0.
On the hardwood, Graves has scored 143 points and is averaging 11.9 per contest, to go along with 6.3 rebounds. The Jaguars are currently 7-5 overall heading into a Tuesday contest at Manson Northwest Webster.
Through all of his work in both sports, Graves has been able to lean on his family for support.
“My family has supported me through this whole thing with my decision,” Graves said. “They have helped with scheduling and keeping me on top of what I have that week and where I need to be.”