Grant Godso marveled at the exploits of older teammates and top competitors from across the state while coming up the high school wrestling ranks.

Those early experiences made him realize there were two things he wanted to do before he graduated: win a Division III state title and a city title. That makes Saturday’s City Championships a top priority for the Redemptorist High senior.

“There are some big, important tournaments we’re in every year, like the Louisiana Classic and Ken Cole,” Godso said. “But for me, the city meet and state are just as important, if not more so.

“Last year I was in the finals at city and lost in overtime. That was a great competition. Now it’s my senior year, and this is my last chance.”

Godso (31-3) figures to be the No. 1 seed in the 145-pound weight class at the City Championships, which begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Catholic High. Godso is accomplished on the mat and away from it. He won a Division III title at 145 pounds a year ago. In the classroom he carries a 4.0 grade-point average and has a 28 score of the ACT.

That combination of academics, wrestling prowess and experience serves Godso well, second-year Redemptorist coach Roderick Ratcliff said.

“Grant is a real intelligent guy,” Ratcliff said. “There are times when you’ll see him reading a book at a tournament. Make no mistake about it, he takes everything in. He’s like a sponge. He’ll watch the other competitors and ask me what I think about what they’re doing. He’s not afraid to try something different.”

Ratcliff was a state champion at McKinley High and went on to earn All-America honors at Division II Nebraska-Omaha. He also coached at Nebraska-Omaha and plans to return to Nebraska later this year to coach at another college, Hastings.

“I see some of myself in Grant,” Ratcliff said. “I was always looking to do whatever I could to get better. Some guys settle with competing on a certain level. Grant’s not like that. He’s not afraid to push himself to get better.”

A case in point is Godso’s improved conditioning this season.

“The last couple of years I had a tendency to get really gassed at the end of a tournament or a tough match,” Godso said. “I was determined to beat that this year. That meant being more disciplined and putting in extra work.

“Now I’ll get up in the morning and go run before school. Or I’ll stay after practice and do more sprints. Sometimes, I’ll run at night. I think I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. The work has paid off.”

Ratcliff said he likes Godso’s chances going into the City Championships and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s State Wrestling Tournament set for Feb. 15-16 at Kenner’s Pontchartrain Center.

“He’s wrestled against some of the best competitors around, including the guys at bigger schools,” Ratcliff said. “His three losses were all close, and one was in overtime. He’s done everything he can put himself in position to succeed.”