CBC’s Gant turns hard work into state wrestling championship
By: Warren Mayes
Hard work pays off. Just ask CBC junior Tim Gant.
The 220-pounder has a state wrestling championship to show for it. Gant defeated Kickapoo’s Micah Foote 5-1 in the recent state meet at Mizzou Arena in Columbia. He became the eighth individual to win a state championship for the Cadets.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet; it’s still a great fresh feeling,” Gant said. “It means hard work pays off, wrestling season is short and you have to go 110 percent at every opportunity you get.”
Gant and Foote had history. Gant did not medal at state as a sophomore, going 2-2 in his first trip to Columbia. He lost to Foote last year. During the regular season this year, Foote earned a 9-8 victory over Gant in a December tournament in Springfield.
“I changed my game plan and knew how to stop his main move and I did stop it,” Gant said. “I was not going to lose. I had a strong mindset that proved deadly.”
Gant was motivated by his showing last year from state. He was determined to improve and enjoy a better showing.
“I learned quite a bit of technique this offseason through extra tournaments and camps,” Gant said. “I focused more on the mental side along with extra lifting at practice.”
His expectations were big going into state.
“Win it all,” Gant said about his mindset. “I had a tough road to the finals but I knew I could do it.”
CBC coach Rocky Streb agreed that was the plan.
“We really did feel that winning the whole thing was possible for him,” Streb said. “We wanted him in the right frame of mind.”
Gant had a tough bracket at state.
“Because he finished third in districts, he had that tough road to go,” Streb said.
In his first match, Gant scored a win by pin. The next two matches weren’t that easy.
“The second and third round matches were both barnburners,” Gant said. “I had extremely high emotions since I was predicted to lose those.”
They were great wins, Streb said.
“His quarterfinal match was against a Blue Springs kid that was the favorite going in,” Streb said. “That went down to the wire, but the semifinal was the closest. He won that in triple overtime by riding his opponent out for the 30-second time frame.”
That led to the rematch with Foote.
“I had over 12 hours before the match to visualize and prepare exactly how to win,” Gant said. “He was broke. He couldn’t get any offense against me.”
Streb said he could not have anticipated a better showing from Gant.
“It actually went quite well,” Streb said. “We had put together an effective game plan, which he implemented perfectly. The kid was broke early in the second period.
“Tim was very focused. It was rewarding for us to see all those months of work come to fruition.”
When he won, Gant said it was more enjoyable than he had dreamed.
“I had seen myself winning it all but even expecting to win wasn’t close to the emotions felt after the match,” Gant said. ” could not believe it I knew I was extremely blessed for the opportunity.”
His family, teammates and friends were happy, too.
“It was all congratulations and hugs,” Gant said. “I have a very supportive group of friends and family that helped cheer at Columbia.”
Gant is a throwback. He plays three sports. Besides wrestling in the winter, he is a football player and he is a left guard and defensive lineman. Next up is track and field. He throws the shot put.
“I’m probably better at wrestling, but for me, whatever in season sport is what I give my all too,” Gant said.
Several colleges are looking at Gant. Indiana, Iowa, Cornell, Missouri S&T, Iowa state and Central Missouri are schools checking him out. If possible, Gant said he would like to play both football and wrestle.
Participating in sports is time consuming. Many help Gant along the way.
“I’d like to say thank you to my family and close friends for all the prayers and support throughout a great season,” Gant said.
The state title will help CBC’s wrestling program, Streb said.
“His triumph was shared by everyone. It was very important for our program, we’re trying to get noticed and become a relevant player in the area high school wrestling community,” Streb said. “Being able to produce state champions should help up get the respect we want that will yield real tangible results in such things as invitations to high caliber tournaments.”
Gant has room to get even better in wrestling, Streb said.
“He’s physically without peer. He gets better all the time technically,” Streb said. “He’s only in his third year of wrestling as he had never seen a mat until high school. He has heart. He is the prototypical Cadet light heavyweight — lots of fight and desire inside him.”
Around CBC, Gant is not known just as an athlete.
“He is a great role model for other students, not just athletes,” Streb said. “He’s a leader on the football field as well. The younger kids all look up to him and want to be like him, which is something I’d want for my own kid.
“He’ll continue to work on wrestling and will improve technically as his experience level continues to go up. He’ll be a leader next year and help take us up to another level.”