Coaches, administrators and students are keeping things lively at Grain Valley High School, where the Eagles just won the Missouri State Helmet Challenge, edging Jefferson High School of Festus for the title.
That win followed a virtual wrestling tournament where fans could vote for the No. 1 wrestler in the history of Grain Valley High School, with lone state champion Mavrick Alexander edging Caleb Benshoof, a four-time state finalist.
It all began with associate principal Mike Tarrants’ inspired daily challenge, that ran the gamut from the soft taco crush to mud puddle diving.
“When you don’t have any spring sports – high school, college or professional – things like these contests and Coach Tarrants’ challenge are really fun,” Grain Valley activities director Brandon Hart said.
“I don’t know about anyone else, but I need to get outside and watch some sports. My two kids are just sitting on the couch, when they want to be out playing something and I feel so bad for the seniors who are missing out on everything in their final year of high school.”
The helmet challenge featured 87 schools from across the state with Grain Valley squaring off against Jefferson in the championship round.
“It was unbelievable how close the voting was in the semifinal and final rounds,” Grain Valley assistant coach and challenge supporter Erik Stone said. “Both rounds came down to the final minutes, the final seconds, and we came out on top.”
The Eagles defeated Park Hill by two votes in the semifinals and Jefferson by 31 in the final round.
“There were 2,356 total votes in the semifinals and we won by two,” Stone said, “and there were 3,949 in the championship round and we won by 31. It was so close, when you would check the voting online, it would basically say 50-50 percent. We had to wait until it was over and the final votes were counted until we knew we won.”
The Eagles got more and more creative as the tournament reached the final rounds, providing a variety of action photos and up close photos of the Eagles royal blue helmet with eagle wings.
Head coach David Allie narrated a short video about what an eagle represented and players, coaches and teachers took to social media to seek out votes.
“It was a lot of fun, got a lot of people involved and we won, so it was great,” Stone said.
The Eagles will now take on other state champions in a country wide contest that will likely begin sometime in June.