Gralan Early was featured in Issue 5 of the Fort Wayne Ink Spot. This is his follow-up.
Immediately after being featured in the Ink Spot, Coach Gralan Early competed in two wrestling divisions in the United States Open national tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Still wanting to compete, and apparently still good enough to do more than just compete, Early placed second in the Masters’ Division out of hundreds of wrestlers. He didn’t do as well in the Seniors’ Division, but the setback was a “great eye opener,” he said. The coach got coached by the experience.
“I needed to get down in weight to [compete] at a different weight class,” Early said, and “I think I was overly excited because I didn’t pace myself in some of the matches.” A good measuring stick for where he is as a competitor, Early scored points in every match, against competition who trained year-round and full-time for the national tournament.
Those guys don’t work full-time at a charter school (Thurgood Marshall Leadership Academy) where Early works.
If Early did better in the Seniors’ division, he would have qualified for the World Team Trails. Even better, by competing in these tournaments, Early will have a chance to compete for a spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic wrestling squad.
He has two full years to train for the next qualifying tournament; the 2019/20 competition will take place again in Las Vegas. Early will have one shot to make the 2020 team.
“Some of the best guys in the country didn’t compete [in Vegas] because they wanted one more push to train through this year [to qualify in 2019],” Early said, who is set to train some with college guys here and in Indianapolis. The wrestling preseason at Indiana Tech, where he coaches, started September 5, 2018.
Early spent the summer coaching and competing in national tournaments with his wrestling club and the Indiana national team.
The national team of Indiana’s best high school wrestlers, after training at Indiana Tech, competed in tournaments in Spokane, Washington and Fargo, North Dakota.
In only his second year coaching for the national team, Early was picked and will receive the Indiana State Wrestling Association (ISWA) Coach of the Year award. He got the confirmation text on his August 6, also his birthday.
Early said he will coach anyone, from the starter to the bench warmer. “I’m going to coach every kid to my best ability,” he said. “Even the best kids still need to be pushed.”
The Early brothers (Gralan and Leroy) run Next Generation Academy (NGA), their dual-focus nonprofit that teaches children and young adults through sports and the arts to be successful. NGA provides financial support to send wrestlers and musicians to their various camps and competitions. If you would like to support NGA’s funding initiatives, send donations to:
Next Generation Academy | P.O. Box 5720 | Fort Wayne, IN 46895 | Phone: 256-694-5765