It's not that Easton Hargrave doesn't push himself at wrestling practice, soaking his T-shirts in sweat.
And it’s not that the Tumwater senior isn’t driven by goals.
But the magic to Hargrave’s journey to a state championship at 189 pounds this season is that he’s not so goal driven that he forgot to have fun along the way.
He’s the champ with a sense of humor. He’s also The Olympian’s wrestler of the year.
“He’s always making jokes,” Tumwater coach Tony Prentice said. “He’s always making us laugh. We’ve certainly enjoyed having him. We’re better off because of him.”
There’s nothing funny about Hargrave’s accomplishment on the mat. He finished his high school career with a 126-24 record, second most wins in school history. He pinned 105 opponents, 28 this season and 34 pins last year.
“That’s got to be a state record,” Prentice said. “I’ve never heard of anyone with that many pins.”
Hargrave, a three-time state qualifier and two-time state placer, went 37-1 his senior year despite giving up as much as 14 pounds to an opponent. Weighing 175 pounds, he was likely the lightest 189 pounder at the 2A state tourney.
“Not to be cocky, but I thought I could win at any weight,” said Hargrave, who placed second at 171 pounds last season.
There were two reasons he wrestled up a weight class. One, he didn’t want to have to cut weight. He also didn’t want to bump his younger brother, Trevor, down to junior varsity. Trevor wrestled at 171 pounds at the start of the season.
“He’s my little brother,” Hargrave said. “I didn’t want him to wrestle JV.”
From his start in wrestling at age 4, Hargrave’s sense of humor was obvious. In his first tournament, Hargrave was on his back, just about to get pinned.
“And he put the loser sign on his forehead with his fingers,” Prentice said, laughing at the memory.
Hargrave was making fun of himself as he was pinned. He didn’t dominate his competition when he was wrestling in elementary school. His dad, Greg Hargrave, used to give his son a quarter if he didn’t cry after he lost.
“I was a crybaby,” said Easton Hargrave, who was named after his grandfather.
Hargrave learned how to wrestle and how to win. By the time he was in fifth grade, he began wrestling in tournaments across the country. When he entered high school, he wrestled nine months out of the year, taking time off only to play football. He was an all-league lineman.
Last weekend, he went 9-1 at a wrestling tournament, placing first in Greco-Roman and second in freestyle. He figures he’s wrestled more than 1,000 matches.
“The more mat time you get, the better you get,” Hargrave said. “My dad has always been my coach all along. He’s been at every match of my life.”
Hargrave is a pinning machine not because he uses brute strength. Hargrave, who pinned his first two opponents at state and won in the finals, 16-3, wins with experience, using counter moves.
“I’m one of the weakest guys on the mat,” said Hargrave, who can bench press 220 pounds. “You have to be aggressive. If you get someone on their back, you have to finish them right there and not give them a chance.”
Hargrave’s lighthearted nature was obvious at state. On his calf, he had a temporary tattoo of a monster face. He’s had an assortment of tattoos on his leg while wrestling over the years, ranging from turtles to butterflies.
“There’s really no reason for it,” he said with a laugh. “It’s just something I’ve done since I was 4.”
Hargrave’s wrestling days aren’t over. He’ll probably wrestle at a junior college, then, he hopes, at a four-year school. Wherever he wrestles, he’ll still be the kid with a sense of humor who works hard for the pin.
“Easton loves wrestling and he’s always wanted to have fun doing it,” Prentice said. “He’s just a great kid.”
And a great wrestler.