The number three is significant for Benedictine wrestler Ryan Gregory, who has placed third in Class AAA state the past two years.
Likewise, for next year, the Richmond Hill resident has established three lofty goals in wrestling, culminating with what he hopes is an elusive state championship.
Last month, at the state wrestling meet in Atlanta, Gregory placed third in the 160-pound weight class. That followed a disappointing loss to the eventual state champion in the quarterfinals.
"If we wrestled 10 times, I would beat him nine times," said a confident Gregory, who lost the match 6-5. "I like staying on the ground. He liked staying on his feet. He sorta got me there."
Admitting he was down at first, Gregory said he shook off the loss and came back with a clear head. He won his next four matches, all by pins, to capture third place. "I dominated everyone," said Gregory, who has a 100-12 record with 67 pins since his freshman year at BC.
Gregory, 17, is seeking even more dominance next season, when he returns for his senior year. A third-place finisher at state for the past two years, he realizes he has just one more shot at winning a state title.
His most challenging goals, however, might come during the regular season.
"My goal next year is to go undefeated," said Gregory, who has attended BC since the ninth grade. "I don’t plan on having a point scored on me."
Gregory acknowledged that the latter goal will be tough to achieve, given the competitiveness found in his weight class. This season, he pointed out, most of the top wrestlers in his weight class were seniors. Next year, he will join that fraternity and, he predicts, will be "up there with the best of them."
Not all of Gregory’s challenges this season took place on the mats. He injured his knee and ankle in a car accident last year and missed the first half of the season. Returning in January, Gregory attacked his goals of winning a region and state championship with a sense of purpose befitting his sport. "I trained every day," Gregory said. "I did miles and miles of running."
Gregory has wrestled since the seventh grade. He took up the sport after watching his older brother wrestle at BC and quickly made his mark, winning the middle school championship in eighth grade as a member of Team Savannah Wrestling and following that up with a fifth-place finish at state his freshman year. Last year, he placed third at state in the 145-pound class.
"I always thought it was cool," explained Gregory, who also boxes and does jujitzu. "When you step on the mat, it’s just you and another person. I’ve always liked one-on-one combat sports. "
Gregory also likes the rigorous wrestling training regimen, noting that he pushes his body harder than a football or basketball player. He said he’s constantly aware of his diet. "While other kids are eating candy bars, I’m eating salad and eggs," said Gregory, who rewarded himself following the state meet by expanding his menu for a week before resuming training.
No listless, candy-filled summer for Gregory, who plans to compete in a number of junior national championships leading up to his last season of high school wrestling. If he has his way, it’ll be four more years of salad and eggs for Gregory
"I want to wrestle in college," said Gregory, noting that he likes North Carolina a lot but is also looking at the Naval Academy and Virginia. "I think I have a pretty good shot at a scholarship."
Gregory, a member of the National Honor Society, wants to pursue a degree in the medical field, and that might come in handy if he achieves his other goal of ultimate fighting.
He would not be the first professional athlete in his family. His cousin, Kevin Butler, was the placekicker for the Chicago Bears following a career at the University of Georgia.
"If one person in the family makes it to the pros, I can make it to the pro level as well," said Gregory, noting that Butler cheered him on during the state meet.
Ryan Gregory, 17, jun. BC, Richmond Hill. freshman year. Atlanta, Gwinnett Arena. 160 pounds. third in the state. 3-A. lost to state champ 6-5. pinned four kids to win 3rd. lost in quarterfinals. 10 times - 9/10 I’d win.f we met again I’d beat him.ike staying in the ground; he liked staying on his feet, sort agot me there. Down at first. might as well come back. shook it off and came back with clear head. domianted everyone. 3rd last year (145 pounds). Wanted to win state. Goal next year to go undefeated, don’t plan on having point scored. Pretty tough one of toughest weights. up there with best of them. Most kids are seniors this year. Car accident out most of season, came back in Jan. trained every day, won region championship 3 years ago. hurt knee and ankle. missed first half of season.