A jump in weight class couldn’t slow Kyle Thompson’s senior season for the Granite City wrestling program.
He jumped up from 160 pounds to 195, but the move didn’t deter him from qualifying for the Class 3A individual state tournament for the second straight season. He won regional and sectional championships and compiled a 38-10 record on the mat after going 40-13 as a junior.
The excellent campaign earned Thompson this year’s Granite City AdVantage News Wrestler of the Year honors.
“Coach (George Kirgan) and I went back and forth from the beginning of the year if I wanted to cut weight or not to cut weight,” Thompson said. “I ended up choosing not to cut weight this year and I did wrestle bigger guys, but the bigger guys are also slower and I was able to come back with a little more speed and I was a little stronger this year and was able to hang on with those big guys. I was able to use my moves, ankle picks here and there, and get those big guys moving. That was just the goal all year is make sure I got those guys going and tired because the big guys get tired faster. I knew I was going to be able to beat them in all three periods. They may have the strength the first period, but to go all three periods with me I knew nobody was going to be able to do that.”
Unfortunately Thompson never corralled a state medal in his career, going 1-2 his junior season at 160 and 2-2 as a senior at 195. He was a win short of a medal both seasons. Thompson finished the season ranked 8th in the state at 195, according to illinoismatmen.com.
Knowing he will continue his football career at Quincy University next season and that wrestling was over motivated him this year. Thompson was also the Granite City AdVantage News Co-Football Player of the Year in the fall as a linebacker and captain for the Warrior football team.
“It’s something not everybody can say they did,” Thompson said of being a multiple-time state qualifier. “Not everybody can say they went through the process of wrestling and made it to the highest level they can make it in high school. Me being able to make it my senior year was something special to me. Knowing that I wasn’t going to continue wrestling after high school, being able to finish the best I could means a lot.”
Though wrestling is behind him, Thompson admitted there is plenty he can take away from his time with the Warriors. It has taught him a strong work ethic to be the best he can be individually.
“Wrestling taught me that you have to work hard at everything and every little detail matters,” Thompson said. “Wrestling taught me, yeah it’s a team sport, but it taught you to be an individual and taught you to be good (personally) to be able to help your team. It helped me be a better leader in football, because those guys in the wrestling room, it’s pretty much a fight. You’re in the wrestling room going at it, fighting, so what I was able to translate into the football season was I was able to handle my emotions a little better and was able to talk to other people and be the leader the football team needed me to be. Wrestling really teaches you to find yourself mentally and physically.
“It’s all on you. When you lose you know another man just beat you, and you can’t blame it on the coaches or the refs. At the end of the day you let the other man get to you and take you down. That’s what wrestling taught me the most. It taught me to be a man, take responsibility for your actions.”