Aden Graves can join an exclusive club this weekend.
The 160-pound Sidney senior is looking to become the 38th four-time state wrestling champion in Montana history. And for Graves, it’s been a goal of his for as long as he can remember.
“Ever since I found out you could do it, I guess, it was a goal. I was like, ‘Yeah, man. I want to do that. That sounds fun.’ I guess it’s been a goal pretty much my whole life since I started," Graves said.
If Graves can reach the pinnacle again this weekend, he’d be the third Sidney wrestler to accomplish the feat. The two that came before Graves laid out the blueprint for him.
“Gresh Jones, when he did it in 2015, he was good friends with my brother who graduated with him, so I knew Gresh really well and looked up to Gresh a lot. He was kind of in my ear about it. ‘You can do this, too, if you put in the work,'" Graves said. "Obviously, I know Jesse (Obergfell), he was the first one. Both of those guys were huge motivation for me. Hey, I could do it, too. Melby has been telling me forever, ‘This is a goal that you could do, so go get it.’”
Aden started wrestling when he was about four years old, as do several of those that roll through the Sidney program. He’s not only had one of the best wrestling coaches in the country in his corner in Guy Melby, but his father Ty has also been there as an assistant throughout Aden’s career.
“It’s good. I think it’s pretty special. I had four boys myself and really enjoyed that process with them. As a coach, you don’t take for granted," Sidney head coach Guy Melby said. "There’s a special camaraderie there with your athlete, your personal son, and it’s just a little bit different and those guys have done a really good job.”
“Super special, know what I mean? It’s awesome to look to the corner for a decision and I can see my dad and Melby figuring out what’s best for me," Graves said. "He’s always been there for me and that’s super special. I wouldn’t want him to be anywhere else or with anyone else other than Melby.”
Aden is the third of four boys to go through the Eagles program. Ethan, the oldest, offers help to Melby and his staff, while Kade capped off his career last year with his first state title. That’s left Aden to battle with freshman brother Reece, who won the Eastern A divisional title at 113 pounds this past weekend.
“Actually, nobody really beat up on Red. He was pretty tough. He was a four-time state placer for us and won it once," Melby said of Kade Graves. "Reece is a little smaller than they are, but he’s tough as well.”
“For sure. Him and I go rounds. He’s mean, though. He kind of whoops me up and beats on me. I’m old now so he kind of beats me up, but I wrestle with him all the time," Aden Graves said.
While the Graves brothers could come away with gold this weekend, the Eagles team will have its hands full. Sidney doesn’t have the overpowering, record-breaking teams of years past, but make no mistake, the Eagles are the Class A favorites as they look for their fifth consecutive State A crown.
“We know exactly what we’ve got coming into our program, next year, 10 years from now. We knew we were going to have to coach a little bit. The last four years, I just kind of sat in the corner and those guys did all the work," Melby joked. "Now, our coaching staff has done a great job coaching these guys along. We’re not going to score 300 points like we have, but we could score 200.”
Action gets started on Friday morning inside First Interstate Arena.