If a career in chemistry doesn't pan out for Elliot Granados, he might want to consider being a safe cracker, bomb diffuser or poker player.
Nothing seems to faze the even-keeled Valparaiso senior.
"He's very easy-going," Vikings coach Mark Line said. "He's one of those unassuming kids who comes in every day and works hard and does what he's asked. He doesn't get real excited, one way or the other. You may get a smile here and there, but he doesn't say a lot. He just goes about his things and takes it as it comes."
In the season-opening Northwest Indiana Challenge, Granados finished 6-0 with five pins at 182 pounds. There were no histrionics. He simply took off his ankle band, shook hands and unbuckled his head gear.
"I feel like it helps me," Granados said of calm demeanor. "Kids who parade off the mat, they don't have any self control. I don't feel they have any respect."
Granados is certainly beginning to earn his. Also a baseball player, he started wrestling in sixth grade in hopes of becoming a better athlete and getting in the best shape of his life. He logged more than 20 varsity matches as a freshman, qualifying for regionals. A .500 career wrestler entering the season, he advanced again in 2012 before a shoulder injury kept him out of the postseason last winter.
"He's kind-of paid his dues. He's started to come into his own a little bit," Line said. "He's a tall, lanky kid, which is where in the past he had some problems. He didn't know how to use all his length and leverage. Things are clicking for him now. He's got a lot more body awareness. He doesn't do anything flashy, but you don't have to. That's the type of kid I've always had."
The highlight of Granados' junior season came at the Duneland Athletic Conference tournament, where he was pressed into action as a last-second fill-in, bumping up to 195 and finishing in the top four.
"It was an eye-opener, that it's more about technique than strength," Granados said.
Moving from 170, Granados isn't having to cut as much weight this season. He trained and conditioned harder in the offseason and is managing his diet better. All are paying dividends.
"I'm stronger. I feel I'm in better shape," Granados said. "I want to be able to wrestle the whole three periods and overtime, to never lose in overtime."
Standing 6-foot-2 also serves Granados well.
"I can grab legs easier, post easier," he said. "The cradle is one of my favorite moves. I rely mostly on my speed. I feel I have an advantage at neutral."
Granados' experience is also evident in matches.
"He understands the flip of the disc, why we take evens or odds," Line said. "We don't have to remind him very much. He's somebody who knows what it means to do things for the team, that wrestling's not just an individual sport. You tell him, 'Hey, we need six points, a bonus or a major,' and he'll work his hind end off to get them for you."
While the end goal for all wrestlers is reaching the state finals, Granados isn't looking that far ahead. This much isn't in question. Valpo has come a long way over the course of Granados' career.
"When I came in as a freshman, we were horrible," he said. "People didn't show up for morning practices. They weren't dedicated enough. Now it's more structured. We've got mandatory morning practices. We're running first. We've got a lot of really good freshmen stepping into varsity spots. A lot of (graduates) are coming back in to help out. We're definitely progressing."