High School Sports

One Bald Eagle Area career goal down, one to go for wrestler Garrett Rigg

Bald Eagle Area’s Garrett Rigg, seen here last season, recorded his 100th career win on Tuesday. That allowed him to mark off one of his two career goals. The other? Win a state medal.
Bald Eagle Area’s Garrett Rigg, seen here last season, recorded his 100th career win on Tuesday. That allowed him to mark off one of his two career goals. The other? Win a state medal. Centre Daily Times, file

Two sheets of paper bearing the same words hang from the bedroom door and bathroom mirror of Bald Eagle Area wrestler Garrett Rigg: “To do list: Get your 100 wins and get your state medal.”

Rigg looks at the those pieces of paper when he leaves for school and comes home every single day, constant reminders of what he always strives toward.

And on Tuesday night — after beating Central’s Branden Swab in a 7-4 decision and clinching his 100th career win — Rigg rushed home to check off an objective he eyed since eighth grade.

He didn’t use a pencil, pen or yellow highlighter. Rigg whipped out a black Sharpie.

“That’s permanent,” he said, leaning forward with a smile in BEA’s weighing room.

But the ink hasn’t dried on Rigg’s high school career. He’s not finished yet.

A 17-match winner this season, Rigg — along with best friend Seth Koleno — provides the pulse for BEA’s program. The senior is a respected teammate, touted teacher and, most importantly, darn good wrestler.

Rigg, driven by both personal ambition and team success, doesn’t care what doubters may say or think. All that matters to the star at 145 pounds is that he’s positioned to check off that second item on his list.

“I’m right where I need to be,” Rigg said.

And so are the Eagles. Rigg and his teammates have rolled to a 10-0 start this season, most recently beating up Central 62-14. BEA is hoping to get not just a few individual wrestlers to the state tournament, but the entire team.

BEA coach Ron Guenot said Rigg — the No. 10 wrestler in the state in his weight class — is a significant reason why the Eagles are poised to do that. The pins and takedowns help for sure, but Rigg’s leadership has been immeasurable.

Guenot, now in his second year of guiding the program, came to Rigg and Koleno when he first arrived last year. Looking to establish a new culture, he turned to the pair of upperclassmen to set an example.

“Garrett’s definitely done that,” Guenot said. “He embraced that role.”

His teammates noticed it, too.

“With kids who aren’t quite there yet, he’ll help them out at practice,” Koleno said. “If someone’s slacking, even though it might not help himself out, he’ll go to that kid and wrestle him and make sure they’re pushing themselves.”

Added sophomore Gage McClenahan: “It’s humbling. He’s always getting stuff done. Just when you think he’s relaxed, he gets to that next level.”

That’s how it’s always been with Rigg. He notched 23 wins as a freshman, secured 28 in his sophomore season and hit 31 victories last year. With a 17-3 mark already, Rigg is primed to have his best campaign yet.

“He doesn’t quit,” McClenahan said, shaking his head, marveling at the senior.

Tuesday night was yet another example of that.

In a heated match with Central’s Swab, Rigg was down 2-1 after the second period. But Rigg struck his blow, tied 3-3 deep in the third.

The BEA senior pulled off a high-crotch takedown, giving him a two-point advantage and forcing Swab to call for an injury timeout with one minute remaining in the match. Swab ran off to vomit while Central’s coaches went back and forth with BEA’s staff. The pro-Dragon crowd booed mercilessly as Rigg stood there smiling.

“I love when they boo me,” Rigg said, nodding his head. “I love feeding off that. That’s one of my favorite things, people rooting against me. I’d almost rather have that than a whole gym full of fans.”

When Swab came back, Rigg finished the job. His arm was raised by the referee, officially giving him his 100th victory. Koleno, McClenahan, Guenot and the rest of the Eagles clapped and cheered.

Meanwhile, Rigg continued to bask in the Central crowd’s disappointment.

“I wouldn’t have wanted my 100th win to go any different,” Rigg said. “It’s my senior year. I’m trying to get my goals. If anyone’s in my way, that’s their problem, not mine. I wouldn’t say I’m hated right now. But if I was hated, it wouldn’t faze me.”

In truth, nothing seems to get to Rigg.

Not fans booing him. Not the pressure of capturing his 100th win. Not even those who question his attire.

One of Guenot’s first impressions of Rigg was the wrestler walking into last season’s first event wearing his warmups and cowboy boots. Guenot saw him in the locker room and had to ask: “What are you wearing?”

“I don’t know, wearing my boots,” Rigg quipped. “What are you wearing?”

Looking back on it now, Guenot just stared at the ceiling and chuckled. “That’s him,” the coach said. “He’s a unique individual. He marches to the beat of his own drum.”

Rigg, who will wrestle at Lock Haven at the next level, has an air of confidence about him that isn’t fake. It’s earned.

The senior is leaving a legacy at BEA, one that’s centered around his determination to make aspirations become reality.

His 100th win may be behind him, but Rigg isn’t putting away that permanent marker. Not yet.

“I can’t wait to check off, ‘Get your state medal,’” he said.

John McGonigal: 814-231-4630, @jmcgonigal9