AHS freshman Garrison thriving on the mat -- with help from big brother


Recorder Sports Staff

Chris Garrison knows that his older brother, Mike, left a pretty big impression on the Amsterdam High School wrestling program as a four-year varsity starter who represented the Rams at the 2012 New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships.

Still, even though he's just a freshman, Chris has already done plenty to step out of big brother's shadow.

First off, though he's four years younger, Chris is already a good five or six inches taller than Mike. Second, while Mike finished sixth as a freshman in the 2009 Section II Class B tournament, last weekend Chris eclipsed that by earning a third-place finish at the since-renamed Section II Division 1 Class 2 tournament.

And Mike's been hearing about it ever since.

Of course, Mike had to prod at his little brother by claiming some of the credit for Chris' third-place finish at 182 pounds, because the elder Garrison sibling -- now a student at Fulton-Montgomery Community College -- was mat-side for each one of his brother's matches throughout the grueling Saturday at Mohonasen High School.

"I give it to him," Mike said. "I say it's because of his coaching."

"Even though it wasn't," Chris replied.

During the regular season, the absurdly energetic Mike was the loudest voice from the stands when Chris wrestled. At Mohonasen, Mike bobbed and weaved in and out of his chair next to AHS head coach Ken Benton and assistant coach Ken Pfeiffer, shouting instructions and -- whenever there was a break in the action -- popping up out of his seat to give Chris a visual aid as to what to do next.

"He still needs a little bit of guidance," Mike said, smirking at his brother. "He's got a lot to learn, still."

The sight of a former AHS wrestler helping out with this year's team has been a common one. Thursday, as the Rams practiced for Sunday's Section II state qualifier tournament, Mike Garrison and fellow 2012 graduates Brandon Giaquinto and Chris Rodriguez were all helping Benton and former head coach Pat Reilly with coaching duties.

"We were just talking about how it seems like we've got the whole heavyweight lineup back from last year helping us out," Benton said. "It's great for our young wrestlers to have our former wrestlers come back and get on the mat with them."

And Chris Garrison's got a pretty good personal tutor.

"Mike was one of the guys on the team who had a lot of heart and a lot of tenacity," Benton said. "He persevered through a lot of tough events, and I think Chris watched him as he was growing up and Chris is started to display and demonstrate the same characteristics and character. I'm very, very impressed with him. He's got the same kind of heart that Mike brought to the mat."

Plugged in as the Rams' first-choice grappler in the 182-pound weight class right off the bat in his freshman season, Chris admitted Thursday it's been a tough road this season, as his opponents have almost exclusively been juniors and seniors that are bigger, stronger and more experienced on the mat than him.

But, his coach sees in him a desire to overcome that and stake his claim as the Garrison family's most decorated wrestler.

"He's got some things I think he wants to prove," Benton said. Mike was the big gun in the family, and I think it's Chris' turn to show what he can do. I think he's gonna make a real serious effort to improve over the coming years."

A bit more reserved than his constantly bubbly big brother, Chris was a bit hesitant to offer predictions about where he can take his wrestling career over the next three years.

"I just want to get bigger, get better," Chris said. "It'll be fun."

Until Mike started to press him for answers, that is.

"You gonna make some predictions?" Mike asked.

"I'm gonna win Class B's," Chris answered.

Mike: "That's all you're gonna do?"

Chris: "I'm gonna place high at sectionals?"

Mike: "You gonna win sectionals?"

Chris: "Yes, I am."

Mike: "And who's gonna be there coaching you?"

Chris: "My brother."