Editor's note: This is the fourth in a six-part series saluting the accomplishments of Montana's high school athletes, teams and schools. Next: The Underriner Motors/406mtsports.com School of the Year.
MISSOULA — Garrett Graves wrote down three goals on a piece of paper and taped them in his locker as a freshman at Eureka.
No. 1: win a state championship. No. 2: Become the starting quarterback for the Eureka Lions. No. 3: Get a scholarship at an NCAA Division I school.
"As a freshman I probably couldn't imagine it turning out any better," Graves said. "Looking back, I couldn't be any happier."
Graves achieved all three of those goals and went above and beyond for the first one. He won two state titles his senior year alone: an individual title in wrestling and a team title in football. He qualified for the state track and field meet in three individual events as well.
That's part of why Graves is the Underriner Motors 406mtsports.com Male Athlete of the Year for 2017-18.
"You can't ask for much more than that. It's been really cool," Graves said of what he and Eureka accomplished this past year.
In total, Graves won two individual state titles in wrestling and was a part of three state-winning teams. His Lions won the Class B football trophy twice and brought home the first team title in program history for wrestling in 2017.
Graves didn't lose a game on the gridiron or a match on the mat this season, but he did have temporary physical setbacks.
He played through two injuries during football season.
During Eureka's regular-season game against Deer Lodge, an opposing player stepped on his right hand just before halftime.
"The ring finger on my throwing hand got sliced wide open on the first joint there," Graves said. "I was bleeding everywhere. The skin and meat was flying all around. Coach just put some athletic tape on it, put my glove on and I threw all the second half."
Graves threw two more touchdown passes with his mangled finger, including a 34-yarder. His dad took him to the emergency room after the game and at least four stitches were put in his finger.
He had a high ankle sprain in the state championship football game too.
"That one really upset me because more than anything I wanted to play that state championship game as hard as I could," he said of the sprain. "I still stayed in there and I played and I contributed, but I didn't get to play it fully healthy. ... But it shows you how great of a team I had around me. You don't get that done by yourself."
Through all the titles and the injuries — including an acute strained upper right hamstring from long jumping at state — Graves is ready for the next step at the University of Montana.
"In my two main sports, I feel very accomplished. I feel like I've had the best teammates and coaches around me possible. I can't be more grateful for it. I couldn't ask to change anything — maybe to stay more healthy, but that's about it."