Grizzlies’ Gentle Giant goes the distance
Bakersfield is the destination for one of one of Granite Bay’s most athletic big men.
At 285 pounds, Granite Bay High sophomore Gavin Andrews qualified for the CIF State High School Wrestling Championships being contested this weekend at the Rabobank Arena.
A sense of pride and love of the sport fueled an undefeated season in the SFL this year for the 16-year-old athlete. At the top of his weight class he benefits from a size and weight advantage as some opponents range to 250 pounds.
With a record of 28-8 as a sophomore Granite Bay Head Coach Mike Lynch said the sky’s the limit for Andrews.
“Gavin is a young man who wants what most athletes his age want, to have fun and adventure and to see just what he can accomplish in high school,” said Lynch. “If he keeps working he will see that he can accomplish some really wonderful things.”
Included in those wonderful things so far was a first-place finish in the Nor Cal Championships as an eighth grader and the Heavyweight Jr. High State Championship title that same year (2008).
This year Andrews did well in a number of preseason tournaments, but his best results came as the season progressed. Most notable was winning both the Sierra Foothill League and Sac-Joaquin Division II titles in the heavyweight division. At the Sac-Joaquin Sections Masters last weekend he also placed fifth to qualify for his trip to state.
As a fifth-grader, Andrews was playing at Cavitt Jr. High and stumbled onto a wrestling practice.
“I went home, got the permission slip signed by my mom and returned the next day for my first practice,” Andrews said. “Because this was my first time doing the sport I had no clue what I was doing and I ended up breaking my right wrist on my first day of practice. It didn't stop me though. I came to practice with a cast and continued to learn.”
According to Andrews he learned everything from wrestling moves to life lessons from Smith at Cavitt. He credits much of his success to what he calls brilliant coaching, including Lynch at Granite Bay.
“More important than his size advantage is that Gavin has some athletic talents unrelated to size,” Lynch said. “He is quite coordinated and can perform athletic skills as a sophomore that we don't normally see in seniors. His athleticism is a real plus for him and makes him a very tough opponent.”
Dylan Jankovich of Roseville High and all of the area wrestlers that qualified for the state finals have been practicing together. At Del Oro, Jankovich said he has seen a side of Andrews reserved for practice.
“Gavin’s a big teddy bear,” Jankovich said. “He’s cool with everybody and always joking around. He doesn’t take himself too seriously so he’s a good guy to hang out with. A lot of heavyweights can kind of push people around, but he knows how to throw his weight around the right way to come out on top. If he keeps it up he could probably be a heavyweight champion his senior year.”
Andrews includes a state title among his goals, and also has his eye on Nationals.
“I can do a little bit of everything,” Andrews said. “I don't really have a certain wrestling style which helps a lot when your opponent doesn't see it coming. What motivates me other than the love of the sport is my competitive attitude to come back and do better in tournaments the next year.”
Coach Lynch said Gavin has the body of a giant with a great personality to boot. His friendly attitude and consistent smile earns him a nickname Lynch suggests, the ‘Gentle Giant’.
“He is a wonderful teammate and loves to have a great time with his friends on the team,” said Lynch. “He really is a good person, trying to develop himself as an athlete as well as being that good person. The future is his for the taking. Gavin is just scratching the surface. He is just beginning to develop. With a ton of work, Gavin can accomplish a lot in both wrestling and football.”
In the heavyweight bouts of the state meet, Andrews is banking on his junior high state championship experience to boost him into a successful tournament with his upperclassmen years still ahead of him.
About Gavin Andrews:
Gavin McVey Andrews
6-foot-5, 285 pounds
Role model: Former Granite Bay wrestler Ryan Loder
Pre-match routine: Running sprints to get warmed up
Match day ritual: Going to a big breakfast after weigh-ins
Favorite quote: "Respect all, fear none."
The state wrestling meet concludes today in Bakersfield. Check our Web site at rosevillept.com and placersports.com for results and check out Wednesday’s edition for a feature on last year’s Granite Bay state finalist Ryan Loder, currently wrestling at the University of Northern Iowa.