TORRINGTON – Just a handful of weeks prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, Torrington High School wrestling coach Jared Hatley announced on the Blazer Wrestling Facebook page he was stepping down.
“It is with great remorse, that I must announce that I am no longer able to fulfill my requirements as the head coach,” Hatley wrote in the post. “I have stepped down, and coach (Cody) Grant will be taking my place. I do not doubt that the program is in great hands and see a very bright future to come.
“I intend to transition into a volunteer capacity and assist coach Grant and coach Sims in every way possible. My passion for Blazer Wrestling and my love for each of our athletes has never been stronger.
“As coach Grant takes the torch and continues to blaze a trail, please rally behind him and show him the support and love, you all were gracious enough to give me.”
Last week, Torrington athletics director Dave Plendl made it official, Grant will take over the reins of the Blazer program.
“We are in a great situation and have full confidence in Cody taking over and running the program correctly and giving the kids a good experience,” Plendl said.
Grant’s history with the program dates back to his youth wrestling days, coming up through the program and ultimately capping off his high school career in 2004 as a four-time state champion. That year, he became only the eighth wrestler in state history and the first in Blazer history to accomplish the feat. He was also a part of the state championship team in 2003.
“I had great coaches in youth and middle school, and it set me up for high school,” Grant said. “We had a great team coming on up and a bunch of great wrestlers. It was fun being a part of the teams I was a part of.”
Grant wrestled for coaches Jason Nickal and Doyle Meyer at the high school level.
“I had a lot of success as a team and as a wrestler. I’ve seen what it takes to have a successful program as an athlete, and I’m excited to try my hand at coaching,” Grant said. “I can’t say enough about the support I had coming up through the ranks from the town and the coaches.”
Grant takes over the program with a lot of uncertainty because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s definitely going to be different. Wrestling is one of those sports where I was pessimistic early on whether they would even have wrestling,” Grant said. “I’m happy, and I’m sure the athletes are happy, that we are going to have a chance to compete. It’s going to be a fluid situation, and we’ll have to take it week-by-week.”
As the team begins its preparation for the upcoming season, there continues to be a lot of unknowns, but one thing is known – Grant is going to expect 100 percent out of his team on and off the mat.
“As a team, I want to go out there, work hard and leave it all on the mat. Win or lose, as a coach, all I care about is getting 100 percent effort from the athletics. The results will take care of themselves. At the end of the day, win or lose, I want the other team to look back and say those Torrington kids are tough.”
That’s how it was when Grant wrestled, and he wants to bring that mentality back to the program.
The Blazers host the annual Maroon and Silver Duals on Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. in Willi Gym prior to the start of the regular season at the Cheyenne East Duals on Dec. 11 and 12.