A Dunham wrestler since 7th grade, Grant Rabel ’19 approached his final tournament determined to reach one last goal. Less than 48 hours, he pinned his opponent in the final match to win his third Division III State Wrestling title (195 lb. weight class).
“It was a great feeling. After a lot of setbacks to get there, I was ready and eager to go into the tournament and get my third title,” Rabel said.
Rabel won the first of his 3 Division III State titles in 2015 as an 8th grader (182 lb), followed by the Middle School National Championship (180 lb) at the NHSCA High School Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, VA. As a freshman, he finished as 2016 State Runner-Up (185 lb).
After missing his sophomore season with an injury, Rabel made quite a comeback. He finished 15-2, won his first City title and won his second Division III individual title (195 lb) in 3 years. The Advocate named Rabel as the Outstanding Division III Wrestler on their 2018 All Metro Wrestling team.
During his senior season, Rabel won both the prestigious Ken Cole Invitational, where state wrestlers compete across divisions in their weight class, and The 50th Greater Baton Rouge Wrestling tournament, the final tuneup for the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Wrestling Championship.
Rabel credits former wrestlers Kirk Wilson ’15, now Dunham’s wrestling coach, and brother Mason Rabel '17 for keeping him on track. “Kirk has helped me work on the areas that I needed to correct and to focus on what I needed to do in my matches to get better and to stand out,” Rabel said.
“Having my brother on the sidelines with Kirk is honestly nothing new. During my entire wrestling career, we were always at each other’s mats, watching each other wrestle, mostly because we wanted to be beat each other more than we wanted to beat anyone else,” he continued. “But having both Kirk and Mason as my coaches, always being around, helping me get ready, pushing me to get better, has been great.”
Rabel’s wrestling success builds on the legacy left by Wilson and brother Mason, whose return to coach the team is reshaping the Dunham program. “In 7th grade, our team was not the most talented but we fought hard every match and were eager to win. Now our team has grown, past wrestlers are back to help build the program. Our team has grown in size and has become more successful,” he said.
Rabel’s wrestling career enters a new chapter as he prepares for the upcoming wrestling nationals, and the potential for him to wrestle at the college level.