ERIE — An IESA state wrestling champion as an eighth-grader, Garrett Passmore's high school career has been a gradual progression.
After not getting out of regionals as a freshman to a pair of top-5 finishes at the Illinois Class 1A state meet the last two seasons, the Erie senior is poised to finish with a flourish.
Having won his first regional and sectional titles the last two weeks, Passmore makes his third trip to Champaign — all in the 160-pound weight class — carrying with him a spotless 47-0 record.
"I got a No. 2 seed down there, and I'm pretty happy with my draw," Passmore said. "But I've got to get down there and take it one match at a time and see where we end up. That's what you have to do, especially in this sport, as competitive as it is.
"Like I've said before, anyone can beat you any day of the week, so I don't overlook anybody. I just look to the opponent that's in front of me, and I give 100 percent. That's how I've looked at the season."
As for his perfect record, Passmore does not give it much more than a passing thought.
"It's kind of neat, but ultimately, it means nothing," he said. "All that matters is what happens at the end of the year."
Sporting a 148-26 career mark as he enters the final matches of his prep career, the E-P standout has progressed from a fifth-place finish at 160 pounds two years ago to a bronze medal last February.
However, Passmore's goal last winter, as it is this season, was to stand on top of the podium at the State Farm Center in Champaign. Last year's finish drove him even harder to achieve that goal.
"Last year, I came up a little short, losing in the quarterfinals," he said. "This off season, I put in a lot of time with the Young Guns program, going to a lot of tourneys and trying to get better. That's gotten me to where I am now, taking the last step.
"Thinking back on it, I was happy to come back and take third place last year, but my goal this week is to try and get to the state final, and take my shot."
Passmore feels the competition he has seen up to this point, first at the Rockridge Regional and then at last weekend's Oregon Sectional, has him well-prepared to take that shot.
"I've had some tough matches, and I've got to think about how those will help me," he said. "Just thinking about how I was able to come out on top in those matches, that'll help me this week."
Along with fellow state qualifier Mat Garrison (170 pounds), Passmore's efforts have not only forged him into a state-title contender, they have helped the Panthers qualify for the team dual sectional round for the first time since reaching the 1A state quarterfinals in 2010.
And after the conclusion of this season, Passmore plans to continue wrestling at the collegiate level, although he has yet to decide on a school.
However, such future activities — the team sectional, choosing a college — are taking a backseat as he looks to complete his progression and end his prep career in the same fashion as his middle-school career.
"I'm focused on (state) right now," Passmore said emphatically. "My ultimate goal is winning that state title."