When Grady Griess was younger, he wanted to be a pilot.
But he also has had a passion for wrestling.
The Northwest senior has an opportunity to do both after high school as he signed a letter of intent to compete in wrestling for the U.S. Naval Academy in front of family and friends Wednesday at Northwest High School.
Griess said he feels relieved to have finally signed his letter of intent.
“It’s a weight off my shoulders. It was a fun day to have everyone here,” Griess said. “It’s really a dream come true and will be a lot of fun. ”
Griess said there was interest from Nebraska, Augustana and Chadron State. But after taking a visit to Annapolis, Maryland, he said being in the Navy is what he wanted to do.
“It was everything I ever thought it would be. Everyone answered my questions. It just drew me to the Naval Academy,” he said. “The coaches were great as were the wrestlers and teachers. It was just a great experience. Ever since I was in eighth grade, I wanted to be a pilot. That’s what drew me to the Naval Academy. And I get to wrestle as well.”
As for wrestling at the Division I level, Griess took part of the Walsh Ironman Tournament this past December where he got to face off against some of the top individual talent in the country. Griess, who is rated No. 9 in the intermat.com wrestling national rankings, finished fifth in that tournament. He feels that experience will help him at the next level.
“It’s going to be exciting to compete against the higher end guys like I did at Ironman,” Griess said. “The next level will be like that every single weekend.”
Griess is currently 39-4 on the season and is ranked No. 1 at 220 pounds in all Nebraska prep ratings. He captured the 195-pound title last year after finishing second in the same weight class the previous year. He’s helped Northwest finish as the Class B state champions in 2019 and state runner-up in 2018.
He has almost every wrestling record there is for the Vikings as he is currently 184-20. He has the most career takedowns (370), most wins in a career and season (57, 2018), and most pins in a season (51) and career (151).
“It’s a big deal to have a Division I wrestler at Northwest. It’s a huge accomplishment for our program and I couldn’t be prouder for Grady,” Northwest coach Brian Sybrandts said. “He does everything you want out of a wrestler. He’s a great worker plus a great student that comes from a great family.
“He’s probably going to leave Northwest as one of the best to ever come out of our program. You don’t see kids like Grady very often and when you do, you have to cherish those moments with those kids.”
Griess said he’s enjoyed his time at Northwest but added he’s not done. He wants to win another individual championship as well as another team title.
“It’s been great at Northwest. I felt like I left a legacy and I’m going to try and continue on that for the rest of the season,” Griess said. “I’ll try to make the most of everything here and I think it’s done great things for me.
“It will be a grind the last two weeks with districts and state. I’m not going to look past anyone. I’m going to take it one match at a time.”
Three other Northwest athletes signed letters Wednesday with Griess. Ty Heaton signed a letter of intent to play football at Nebraska Wesleyan, while Rans Sanders signed to play baseball at Cloud County Community College and Sean Juengst signed a letter to participate in track and field at Northern State.