For Jeff

Libby Arnold , Sports Editor

“We need to live through  Garrett him,” Wrestling Head Coach Ryan Chambers said.

The home wrestling meet on Thursday, January 23 against Cedar Rapids Washington High School had a bigger purpose than pins.

On Sunday, November 10, 2019,formerXavierwrestler,JeffVipond(X16), died after struggling with an anxiety disorder for many years.Jeff made an impact on manypeople and had a love for wrestling.

“As us coaches struggled to wrap our minds around losing someone so close to us and our program that meant so much to us, we all knew we had to do something,” Chambers said. “We had to make adifference for Jeff as we felt we owedit to him as he gave us so much.”

Top: A display was created to honor Jeff Vipond at a wrestling home meet against Cedar Rapids Washington High School. Bottom: Cheerleaders wear green bows to support mental health. Grace Ries Photos.

ThemeetwasinhonorofJeffand the impact he left on the Xavier wrestling program. His willingness to help others and great personality is something his teammates will never forget.Along with honoring Jeff, thewrestling program welcomed the Future Saints Wrestling Club, inwhich Jeff was a former member.

“Jeff was someone that I could look up to everyday on and offthe mat. He is such a great man and I will always remember how he has impacted me,” Garrett Ries (X19) said.“I truly have no favorite memories with Jeff, because every time with Jeff was a fun and memorable moment.”

Chambers said all of the pictures they have of Jeff at the state tournament show him with a younger wrestler on his shoulders or wrestling with them. Jeff was always willing to make someone feel special.

“I had wrestled with Jeff when I was younger and I always looked up to him like my big brother,”junior Ivan Thomas said. “He motivated me to be my very best and was a great role model.”

The required wrestling warmup is navy and silver, but Jeff always wore his white sweatshirt before competing. The meet against Cedar Rapids Washington was a whiteout in honor ofJeff and his white sweatshirt.

“Jeff always had to have his white, almost gray sweatshirt from wearing it all the time and white never being able to stay white after all the washings,” Chambers said.

The Xavier wrestling coaching staff used this opportunity to bring awareness to mental health.

“Through this terrible tragedy, we want to carry on Jeff’s legacy through helping others,” Chambers said. “The focus this year for our guys is to make a difference in someone’s life.”

Many people today are affectedby mental health. The Xavier wrestling program wants to makea change in other people’s livesby doing the small, simple things.

“That is what Jeff would do. Jeff was a dominant wrestler with120+ wins, #4 on our all time win list, and yet he was the one with the biggest heart, willing to help others,” Chambers said.“That is what made Jeff special.”

Xavier wrestlers will compete on Thursday, January 30 at MountVernon High School at 6 p.m