• Duo makes Grain Valley wrestling history

  • Harrison Bamman and Mavrick Alexander are part of something special.

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  • Harrison Bamman and Mavrick Alexander are part of something special.
    The two Grain Valley High School wrestlers are not only part of coach Jesse Whitson’s foundation-establishing squad, they are groundbreakers.
    Bamman, a 113-pounder who will be a junior this fall, and Alexander, a 120-pounder who will be a sophomore, are the first Eagle wrestlers in school history to participate in the Fargo (N.D.) National Greco and Freestyle Wrestling Tournament July 13-20.
    “I’ve never been first in anything, so this is special,” said Bamman, who set a sophomore school mark for wins last season with 38 (he was 38-12 and qualified for state, where he was 1-2). “Coach Whitson talks about the underclassmen establishing something special at the high school, and it’s so cool that Mavrick and I are a part of it.”
    Alexander set a freshman school record with a 41-12 record and is eyeing Bamman’s sophomore win mark.
    “I’ll have that record until Mavrick breaks it next year,” Bamman said, laughing. “He’s so good – he’s going to have every record on the team.”
    While Alexander broke the mark for wins, he didn’t make it to state.
    “Coach told me one of the reasons I made it to state was because I got to practice and compete against Mavrick every day,” Bamman said. “I told him, he helped me get to state.”
    At the time, that didn’t mean a lot to the disappointed freshman.
    “I was really disappointed I didn’t get to state,” Alexander said, “but now, it makes me feel good to know that I helped Harrison make it. And we’re both going to make it next year. Next year, is going to be great – so is going to the nationals in Fargo.”
    To make it to the elite Fargo tournament, a wrestler had to finish among the top three wrestlers at a regional event.
    Alexander was third at the Southern Plains Tournament in Dodge City, Kan.
    “I was 6-1, and my goal there was to make it in the top three so I could go to nationals,” Alexander said. “I don’t even know what to say about being one of the first to go to nationals. I’m just going along for the ride to see what happens. I know competing against the best wrestlers in the country is going to make me a better wrestler.”
    Bamman did not finish among the top three, but coaches Mike Hagerty and Jason Hessop invited him to compete because of his work ethic this summer.
    “I was so disappointed when I didn’t finish in the top three,” said Bamman, who was 4-2 with a fifth-place finish. “But the coaches invited me to fill a weight spot because they said I’ve worked so hard this summer. I’ve never missed a practice and have really gotten better – and getting that invitation was really special.”
    Page 2 of 2 - The two Eagles will catch a bus in Kansas City on July 11 and travel to Fargo for the eight-day tournament.
    “They take four wrestlers – two from the east side of the state and two from the west,” Alexander said, “and that’s how they make the team. I know some of the best wrestlers in the country are going to be at the tournament.”
    Both Eagles will compete in both Greco and freestyle wrestling. Greco involves only holds and moves done with the upper body. Freestyle is what high school and college wrestlers compete in.
    “Some guys will just do Greco and some will do freestyle,” Alexander explained. “But we want to become better in both styles, so we’re going to do both.”
    Alexander has been wrestling since his father took him to a youth club when he was 4 years old. Bamman is also a longtime wrestler who is following in the footsteps of his older brother Michael, who was a state qualifier for Grain Valley.
    “I’ve been wrestling for as long as I can remember,” Alexander said. “I didn’t start off very well, but I think you need some losses and hard times to appreciate your success.”
    Bamman agreed.
    “I wasn’t very good when I started,” Bamman said. “I liked to watch Michael wrestle, but I played baseball and basketball, too. Now all I do is wrestle, and I want to help the Grain Valley team become special, one of the best teams in the state.”

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