GRUNDY, Va. (WJHL) — In our digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Peyton McComas, a senior wrestler at Grundy High School.
“Oh yeah, it’s in the water for sure,” Grundy head wrestling coach Travis Fiser said.
Something’s in the water here in Grundy, Virginia.
“I asked ‘how young do they start’ and they told me as long as they’re potty-trained,” Fiser said.
It’s like these kids are bred to be wrestlers.
“Wrestling’s a different kind of sport, different kind of mentality and I think it went really well with these kids in these mountains cause it’s tough here it’s coal mining it’s hard work and that’s just a great recipe for wrestling,” Fiser said.
They’ve made Grundy wrestling one of the best programs in the country.
“We take pride in wearing the Grundy singlet,” Grundy senior 220 lb. wrestler Peyton McComas said.
The hardware says it all: 23 team state championships, by far the most in Virginia history.
“Everybody always says when you’re wearing the Grundy singlet you start out two points ahead people see the Grundy singlet and it’s intimidating the Grundy singlet is just because of the legacy,” McComas said.
Then the individual titles: most schools are lucky to have a few state champions come through their program; Grundy has 77, and counting.
“It’s kinda intimidating when you first come in here and you see all the names on the wall and you just see all the hard work that everybody has put in you wanna do the best that you can for the program to keep the legacy going,” McComas said.
McComas is the next great Grundy wrestler, has been since freshman year… about 60 pounds ago.
“I put on a little bit of weight and was 182 junior year and now I’m 220 this year so I’ve been constantly growing,” McComas said.
“I feel sorry for the kids that have to wrestle him, I know they fight him hard but it’s just leverage you can’t teach it,” Fiser said.
He won a state title his freshman year at 6’2″, 160 pounds; he now scales up at 6’5″, 220 pounds.
“It’s rare, he’s always been tall been the lanky kid and now he’s starting to grow out and fill out and he’s really turning into a fine young man,” Fiser said.
“I can tell, like when you’re warming up and people are looking at you like man he’s tall I get that all the time at tournaments I’m like how tall are you I’m like 6’5 they’re like wow,” McComas said.
He aimed for back-to-back titles in his sophomore year but a foot injury ended his season early.
“We just kinda got in a weird position and my ankle I felt it I knew something was wrong when it happened and I couldn’t do nothing so I had to forfeit that match went to the hospital and they said I had a broken ankle,” McComas said.
Although he couldn’t wrestle through the rehab, that didn’t keep him out of the gym.
“I remember I was working out with a boot on in here just doing my upper body doing anything I can rehabbing as quick as possible and making up for time lost from last season and putting everything out there,” McComas said.
That extra work paid off, getting up to 182 lbs. and winning the state title in his junior year.
“When I started my first tournament I wanted to have an undefeated season that was my one goal and I accomplished it thankfully but I just wanted that state title bad because once I knew you can’t win 4 then 3 is the next best so you gotta take what you get,” McComas said.
“He’s always been goal-oriented he’s always wanted to win and I think all the good ones get setbacks a time or two and they come back even stronger and I think that’s what he’s done,” Fiser said.
McComas is pursuing his third title this month, then he moves on to wrestle at a Division-I level, heading to Gardner-Webb next year.
“When I was little I always besides being a state champion and all that you wanna go on to wrestle in college and be in the big dance so I’m just thankful for it really glad I got there and achieved the goal so now when I go there I wanna become an NCAA All-American so you gotta set high goals if you wanna get them,” McComas said.
He’ll be one of many from this school to compete at the next level, extending the greatness that this program has established, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
“You wanna go out there and you wanna wear the Grundy singlet rep the Grundy singlet to the best of your ability and it’s an honor to wear the Grundy singlet and go out there and wrestle,” McComas said.
“It’s really a wrestling town, a year-round thing and it’s just kinda integrated, kinda woven into their character to want to do this,” Fiser said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.