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Grapplers lock up league title



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Oxford’s Dan Curtis (119) battles Brett Foltz from Clarkston. Curtis scored 2 points in the final minute to win the (click for larger version)
February 06, 2013 - Oxford's varsity grapplers secured yet another conference title Saturday after defeating 11 other teams in the OAA Red/White League Tournament held at Oxford High School.

"I think we went into the tournament perhaps more prepared for what it was going to take to win the thing," said Head Coach Brandon Rank.

"We understood we had a league title on the line. Taking a loss in the dual-meet season to Clarkston put us behind the eight ball. The tournament was important to us."

Rank said he talked to his team about scoring bonus points and getting every last point out of every single match.

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"Our kids took that to heart and they went out and competed that way. Nobody was satisfied to win a one or two-point match if they could help it," he said. "I think in the first two rounds we scored bonus points in every one of our wins, so we kind of jumped out to a nice early lead and we were able to hold that all day."

The Wildcats won the tournament with 282 points. Rochester followed in second place with 237; Clarkston in third with 212; and Lake Orion took fourth place with 148 points.

Oxford's champions were Alex Hrisopoulos (103 pounds); Daniel Curtis (119); Edwin Schlickenmeyer (130); Mike Willits (145); Rocco Borg (152); and heavyweight Zach Wood (285).

Both Curtis and Willits also got their 100th career wins. Rank said Curtis has been with the Oxford wrestling program since he was a kid.

"When he first got into high school, he was behind some all-state kids (and) when it was his turn to step into the line-up, he did that," Rank added. "He has won some big matches for us in his career. Getting his 100th win (on) the same day we won that league title is pretty special."

As for Willits, Rank was pretty impressed to see him get his 100th win as a junior and still have part of the season remaining.

"I hope he is up to about 215 (wins) by the end of the year," he said. "Going into next year, that's a kid who has an opportunity to win 160-plus matches for Oxford High School. That's always wonderful for a coach to see."

Other winners for the day included Marty Giannola, (171 pounds) and Wesley Maskill (160) in second place. Grant Krause (189), Collin Campbell (112) and Ben Line (215) in third place. Adam Schlicht, a 135-pounder, placed sixth.

"This has been a kind of an up and down season for us," Rank said.

"We've taken losses we weren't happy about taking, we've been banged up a little bit, but the biggest thing about our kids and our program is when push comes to shove, we go out there and wrestle hard every single time.

"This weekend was kind of a perfect example of how the work ethic of the kids, (what) they've bought into the program and the things they need to do to get better (are) fueling them," he added "It's getting the best wrestling out of them at the best possible time."

The Wildcats head into team district finals against Rochester Wednesday, Feb. 6 with a 34-4 season record and a 4-1 record in the OAA Red.

"The team state competition is a big part of the way we train, the way we work as a team," Rank said. "We're starting off with Rochester, who we've had wars with before and we'll have a war with again. I feel confident our guys are going to go out there and wrestle well. I really look (forward) to bringing home that district title."

Individual districts will begin on Sat. Feb. 9. While they may train as a team, Rank said it's "individual performances that fuel that team."

"It's rewarding to see the kids go out there and accomplish their individual goals," he said. "That's why we coach and why we do this – we like to see the kids accomplish the things they set out to do."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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