Overcoming injuries is often part of high school athletics, but Garrett Manley has endured more hardships than most prep standouts.
The Springfield senior wrestler underwent three knee surgeries in 2009 - two on his right, one on his left - but hasn't let that slow him down on the mat.
Heading into a Division I sectional meet at Rogers High School last weekend, Manley was on pace to surpass the 30-win plateau for the third straight season. He suffered a 3-0 loss, though, to Angelo Amenta of Clay High School.
However, Manley still is a four-time NLL champion, making him only the fifth grappler in league history to do so.
He also has his sights set on a return trip to the state meet after his junior season was cut short because of his first knee surgery in March.
Manley placed fourth at state in the 103-pound weight division as a sophomore, but he was unable to wrestle at the district meet last year and prematurely finished the season 30-3 in the 112-pound class.
"My knee locked up the morning of districts last year," Manley said. "That was pretty disappointing. I had to go to the hospital for them to unlock it and get it in motion again. I still couldn't walk on it that well after that, so I really couldn't wrestle at the district meet, which meant I couldn't go to state.
"The year before I placed fourth at state, and I was planning on placing at least fourth or higher. But I didn't get to do that, and that was tough."
Manley has rebounded nicely this season in the 130-pound division, even after undergoing his third knee surgery the day after Thanksgiving and missing two meets.
He was recently ranked sixth in the state in Division I by the Brakeman Report, which is published annually.
"Garrett is one of the hardest workers that I've ever coached," Springfield coach Tim Dishong said. "He works hard in athletics, but he's a 4.0 student too. He's got it going in all areas. He's just a good kid.
"As a coach, that's the kind of athlete you want. You don't have to worry about them because they're always doing the right thing."
Manley plans on continuing his wrestling and academic career at the Air Force Academy in the fall.
"I got a letter from them after my sophomore year," Manley said.
"I looked into it a little bit and I thought it was pretty interesting and seemed like it'd be a fun place to go to school. Then I went out for a visit last August and I liked it a lot."
Before that, though, Manley has some unfinished business to take care of in high school career, one filled with plenty of ups and downs.
"Most kids would have probably gone through one surgery and just decided that they were done with athletics," Dishong said.
"But he's battled through and overcome each time. He's had to work even harder to get back, but he's taken on the challenge very well."
Contact Zach Silka at: firstname.lastname@example.org.