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Most elite athletes readily admit that past shortcomings often fuel future success.
The perfect example: Ledyard High School's Colin Grim.
His 2012 season ended in frustration, a loss in the Class M state tournament against an opponent, in Grim's own words, "that I should have beaten." To make matters even worse, he lost his cool, slamming his fists to the mat and costing his team - which still won the state title - a team point in the standings.
"I was really unhappy with him … that was no secret," coach Steve Bilheimer said. "We talked a lot about how last season ended and I gave it to him pretty good. Going into this season we talked about what kind of potential I always knew he had, but that - as senior - this was his last time to do it."
Grim received the message loud and clear.
Ledyard's 182-pound co-captain shook off a pair of early-season tournament losses, one to two-time Class M 170-pound champion Joe Murphy of Avon and the other to two-time New England place-winner Austin Price of New England champion Mt. Anthony (Vt.), and didn't lose another match in Connecticut the rest of the season.
He won the Class M title, helping the Colonels defend their state championship, and then beat Wethersfield's Jimmy McDunnah 5-3 to win the State Open title. He also reached the New England quarterfinals, finished his senior season 35-4 with 21 pins and has been selected as The Day's 2012-13 All-Area Wrestler of the Year.
"I knew Colin had the potential to place high in Class M and probably the State Open," Bilheimer said. "But to win both ... if you asked me in the beginning of the year I wouldn't have had my hopes up."
Grim, however, approached his final season with confidence, and a sense of urgency.
"I knew this was my last year to do something great," he said. "My personal goal was to do something great every day, whether it be in practice or a match."
Ironically, it was a close loss to Mt. Anthony's Price in the final of the Pin Down MDS Tournament at Berlin on Dec. 15 that made Bilheimer realize Grim was ready for a big season.
"I was really impressed," Bilheimer said. "He beat a good kid from Hand in the semis and wrestled the kid from Mt. Anthony really tough. He lost 3-2, but there was a lot of action, a lot of stuff on the edge, and the kid got one good takedown and that was the difference."
Grim walked away from that tournament with confidence, too.
"That proved I progressed a lot," he said. "It showed, at least to myself, that I was working hard and had the potential to go a lot farther."
He also became more patient, another sign of his maturity as a wrestler.
"I've always used neutral as a position of strength," Grim said. "But this year I learned how to ride better. Last year I wasn't aware of the clock as much, but this year I was definitely more patient. I would feel (my opponent) out instead of just going out and throwing moves at him. I became more aware of the situation, where the clock was and when I could use it to my advantage."
But he could still be physical, as evidenced by his 21 pins.
"Some moves he does so technically well," Bilheimer said. "But in a lot of ways he's a brawler too. He was always physically ready to be a great wrestler but this year he became mentally ready, too. Everything came together for him."
Grim has been accepted at Springfield College, Bilheimer's alma mater, and hopes to continue his career at the Division III school in the fall. Until that time comes, however, he will hold onto the memories of a dominant senior season.
"When I won Class M it was a great feeling," he said. "And even though I knew there was going to be stiff competition at the Open, my teammates kept telling me, 'You can do this.' I called it my vision quest.
"It was something I was meant to do, but still, it was a big shock when the referee raised my hand and said, 'You are the State Open champ.'"
Wrestler of the Year: Colin Grim (Ledyard)
106: Matt Dowler (St. Bernard)
113: Kareem Small (East Lyme)
113: Brentt Smith (Waterford)
120: Devon MarcAurele (Ledyard)
126: Tom Wynosky (Montville)
132: Jake Caskey (Montville)
138: Justin Timberlake (Ledyard)
145: Tyler Courter (NFA)
152: Brandon Finney (Ledyard)
160: Edgar Charles (NFA)
170: Ryan Wade (Ledyard)
195: John Crooks (NFA)
220: Ben Morales (Ledyard)
285: Ryan Murtha (Montville)