Well-known wrestling instructor Garrison dies at 57

Well-known wrestling instructor Garrison dies at 57

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Well-known wrestling instructor Garrison dies at 57

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Al Garrison, who played a key behind-the-scenes role in the development of several top high school wrestlers around the Des Moines area in recent years, passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 57 after a three-week bout with a rare blood disorder.
Garrison worked as an assistant coach at five metro-area high school wrestling programs throughout the past two decades, served as a personal instructor for four-time undefeated state champion John Meeks and two-time NCAA finalist Montell Marion, and left his fingerprints on dozens of others who solicited his technical expertise.
“If there was an open wrestling room or a mat rolled out anywhere, Al would be there helping kids,” said Valley assistant Dion Cobb, who coached with Garrison at North.
“If you asked all the young men that Al came in contact with to raise their hand if they thought Al had a positive and impactful influence on their life, there would be a long line of young men with their hands raised in the air.”
A memorial gathering for Garrison will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Grand View’s Charles S. Johnson Wellness Center.
Garrison grew up in Des Moines, wrestled at Iowa State and worked as an attorney. He was known to leave his law office and head straight to a wrestling room after work. Garrison coached at North, Urbandale, Valley, Roosevelt and spent the past two seasons at Waukee.
“He had a tremendous ability to not only find strengths and weaknesses, but he had the ability to teach things to you to where you would get it. He could hold your attention,” said Meeks’ father, Keith.
“He could get people to be better than what you would imagine they would be.”
During Garrison’s time at Roosevelt, the Roughriders posted consecutive top-10 finishes at the state traditional meet and finished third in the 2009 tournament, the highest finish ever for a Des Moines metro school.
Garrison developed a reputation as a tireless and methodical teacher of the sport. Keith Meeks said he once asked Garrison how many hours a day he needed to cover all of the aspects of wrestling he wanted to teach.
Garrison’s response: 38.
“He was crazy,” former Roosevelt wrestler Chad Lowman said with a laugh. “He put so much time into watching film. I remember I’d be getting ready for bed (the night before) tournaments and he’d call me at midnight and say, ‘I was watching this video’ and he’d break down technique for hours and hours.
“We’d be out to dinner after practice and he’d grab somebody and start showing technique in the middle of the parking lot and people would be staring at us.”

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Well-known wrestling instructor Garrison dies at 57
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