GROVE - As the Grove Wrestling team prepares to make their own claims on individual state championships, we want to remember their last State Champion wrestler, and current assistant coach, Zach Housley.

When Housley was five years old, a little piece of paper changed his life forever. On his way to the bus after school when he was given a flyer for wrestling signups. Thinking it looked like it could be fun he took it home to his parents and told them he wanted to try it.

Housley's mother, Karrie, was all for it and wanted him to try because she was a mat maid in high school and had enjoyed the sport. Housley's older brother, JC, even followed him into the sport.

After Housley started wrestling he found out he was very competitive and that he didn’t like to lose. He liked practicing and learning new moves that would help him win his matches. That drive and thirst to learn ended up taking Housley to the OKC State Fairgrounds many times over the years for championship matches.

As a sophomore in high school he was a member of Grove’s 2008 3A State Championship team, Grove’s only State Championship Team in their wrestling history.

2008 was also Housley's brother JC’s, senior year, and Housley says he was happy to see his brother become a champion in his final year of wrestling. JC was a two-time state placer in high school himself. Both Housley brothers were and still are always supportive of each other.

Of that 2008 State Championship, Housley says they were “a special group of guys that had been wrestling together for years.” They were and still are “all best friends.”

During his sophomore and junior years, Housley was a two time State Finalist at 112 lbs, where he placed 2nd. In 2010, Housley's senior year, he won it all at 125 lbs in Class 5A by defeating Michael Williams of Claremore, 6-2. He says he chose to move up and not worry about his weight, and just enjoy his senior year.

Housley definitely accomplished that and is now Grove’s last individual State Champion wrestler.

“This young man had a goal, a vision to Win State. His heart was set on it and let nothing get in his way. Understand this, it wasn't given ........it was earned by continually working hard in practice, focusing on the job at hand, following his coaches guide and training. Zach was mentally and physically prepared for that match,” said Housley's father, John, about the championship match.

Housley's accomplishments his senior year were record setting in the Grove wrestling record books. He was an All-State wrestler that year with a record of 45-1 and 26 pins. His only loss that year was at Will Rogers Conference to Class 4A Ty Fittje of Cushing, who remained undefeated that year and also became a State Champion in 2010.

Housley also holds the all time Grove record for most wins in a season(45), most wins in a career(143), and most falls in a career with 93.

Housley eventually wrestled in college at the University of Central Oklahoma and is now working on his degree in Education at Northeastern State University. He is now in his fifth year of coaching wrestling at Grove under his former coach, John Henry Ward.

“I couldn’t say ‘no’ to Coach Ward for the opportunity to coach behind the man that molded me into the wrestler that I was,” said Housley.

Housley started his coaching career early by helping with the Grove Takedown Club as a high schooler with his brother JC. He later started private coaching and absolutely loved it.

“[I've] always enjoyed being able to help kids,” said Housley.

Housley says the main thing the current Grove coaching staff tries to instill in their wrestlers is “to always be tough and, no matter whether they’re winning or losing, to be a good person and always do the right thing, in or out of wrestling.” This is why Grove has always been well respected within the wrestling community. Grove teaches and always does the right things.

Asked what he loved most about his wrestling career and his championships, Housley said, “just the relationships I’ve built throughout the years. And the feeling of winning a state championship. That was something special and I hope every kid can experience that once in their career.”

On what he misses the most, “I miss being able to go out and compete.”

When asked what advice he would give his five year-old self, Housley had this to say:

“To the 5 year old kid that took that flyer home that day ‘thank you’. Wrestling has molded me into the man I am today. It has taught me many life lessons and continues to do so everyday. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without wrestling. I owe this sport a great deal of gratitude!”

To his wrestlers, Housley gives this advice:

“First off have fun. You don’t get to wrestle forever so you need to enjoy the sport and make the most of it. Practice the way you want to wrestle in a match and always wrestle to win and not lose. Enjoy the memories you’re making with your teammates. You will remember these forever.”