In what’s been an up and down season for the Ohio wrestling team, one of the most impressive stories of the year has been none other than redshirt freshman Garrett Thompson.
Thompson was never a highly touted wrestling recruit out of his high school in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, but at Ohio, Thompson has worked hard to become one of the most surprising wrestlers in the Mid-American Conference.
“I can't say enough good things about Garrett Thompson, he comes in and works his tail off every day,” head coach Joel Greenlee said after Thompson’s dominant performance against Kent State.
Thompson began the year wrestling at 157 pounds, but Ohio already has Peyten Kellar at that weight, the second ranked wrestler in the class in the January rankings. Thompson worked with Ohio’s dieticians to move up to 165 pounds. The move proved fruitful for Thompson.
“I started at 157 pounds, I thought I was losing a little too much weight there so then I moved up to 165 pounds and felt a lot better there,” Thompson said.
Despite how Thompson felt at 165 pounds, the Bobcats already had Jordan Slivka, a redshirt junior who began the year as the No. 3 wrestler in the class. The team did, however, need a wrestler at 174 pounds after Sal Perrine, one of the premiere wrestlers in the MAC, went down with an injury.
In lieu of his injury, Thompson made the leap to 174 where he has begun to wrestle opponents that may be much bigger and much stronger than him. Thompson claims to always be ready to step into any role no matter how great the challenge may be.
“I was trying to get a few extra lifts in per week because I knew some of those guys were gonna be a lot stronger than the ones at lower weight classes,” Thompson said. “Moving up I knew it was gonna be a bit of a strength disadvantage for me.”
Thompson had big shoes to fill stepping in for the sophomore Perrine, however, his teammates have been there to help him embrace the challenge of being the next man up for one of Ohio’s best.
“I get a lot of support from my teammates and I know that they are happy with how I've been performing,” Thompson said. “I feel lucky to be able to wrestle with those 174 pound guys.”
The support from his teammates is part of what attracted Thompson to Ohio two years ago.
“When I got into contact with coach (Greenlee), I really liked everything about the team and the atmosphere,” Thompson said. “We have a really good relationship. There's a lot of criticism but also a lot of positive reinforcement. They're always there to help you with whatever you need.”
This year Thompson has put up impressive performances at multiple different weight classes. To start the year, wrestling at 157 pounds, Thompson placed second at the competitive Michigan State open with a win by fall and major decision.
At 174 pounds, Thompson has been nearly unbeatable. Against Northern Illinois he won by major decision, followed by yet another major decision win against Cleveland State. On senior night, Thompson was at his absolute best, winning by fall at just 1:51 against Kent State.
As mentioned by his coaches, Thompson has an undeniably strong work ethic that has helped him get to this point. This work ethic comes from one of his biggest role models, his mother.
“She's always worked really hard and I admire her work ethic,” Thompson said. “That’s always something I keep in mind.”
A Pennsylvania native, Thompson's family isn’t particularly close to Ohio but that doesn't stop his mom from coming to support him.
His mom comes to as many matches as she can to support him no matter what. This support provides an extra level of confidence for Thompson every time he takes the mat.
With three years of eligibility remaining, it’ll be hard to talk about Ohio wrestling without mentioning Garrett Thompson’s name for a long time to come.
“He runs hard, he lifts hard, he wrestles hard and it's paying off. He wasn’t a huge recruit but I believe he could be an all-american for Ohio University,” Greenlee said.