2/25/12 GRAPPLING WITH LOSS

Graham wrestler carries heavy heart to mats
Graham wrestler Jack Snow wrestles with Tristen Brannock during his final match of the state tournament.

Photos by Scott Muthersbaugh / Times-News

Graham wrestler Jack Snow wrestles with Tristen Brannock during his final match of the state tournament.

GRAPPLING WITH LOSS
By Bob Sutton The Times-News 2/25/12     
Reprinted with permission.

Snow gets a hug from his father after his third and final match of the state tournament.
Snow gets a hug from his father after his third and final match of the state tournament.
   GREENSBORO — Graham freshman Jack Snow had much more confronting him than more experienced wrestlers in the high school state tournament. Snow competed the past two days with the death of his grandfather weighing on him.

   “Just dealing with it, I guess,” he said. “My grandpa wanted me to (compete).” So Snow, who won one of three matches over Thursday and Friday, took a certain thought with him to the mat, recalling a final conversation with his grandfather Sunday — a day after he had qualified for state championships.

   “He told me, ‘Put them down quick and don’t let them get the best of you,’” Snow said.

   Arnold McKinnon died Wednesday. Funeral services are at 11 a.m. today at Lowe Funeral Home in Burlington.

   Julie Snow, who’s McKinnon’s daughter and the wrestler’s mother, was on hand at the Greensboro Coliseum supporting her son. She said she’s proud of how the freshman has handled the situation, noting her father’s wish.

    “His grandfather had told him he wanted him to be here,” she said.

    Jack Snow was Graham’s only state qualifier, though Red Devils coach Joe Little realized there were more pressing issues for his wrestler.

    “I told him to do what he needs to do,” Little said. “I told him, ‘I don’t care. Just tell me where we need to be.’”

   As it turned out, it was best for him to be on the mat. Snow was the only freshman in the 120-pound bracket in Class 2-A.

   “I would pray before the matches and just hope for strength,” he said. “After I won that match, I was (saying), ‘Thank you, thank you.’”

   Snow, 15, wore the marks of a wrestler at this point of the season, a bandage covering the bridge of his nose, a mat burn across his forehead. And, of course, an aching heart.

   “He’s a very unemotional kid and he hides his feelings well,” Little said. “He’s been dealing with that.”

   Snow, whose older brother John Snow (now an Appalachian State student) was a past state qualifier, lost via a first-period pin in Thursday night’s opening round. He returned Friday morning, pinning Topsail junior Taylor Webster in 36 seconds of a consolation round.

   Then he was ousted with an 11-3 loss to North Surry junior Tristen Brannock on Friday afternoon.

   Little categorized Snow’s season as an underdog story because the school system doesn’t offer middle school wrestling.

   “He never wrestled a competitive match until this year,” Little said. “Now he’s a freshman going up against juniors and seniors.”

   Snow said the state-tournament experience was worthwhile even though he didn’t advance to the final day.