February 08, 2012 - Heading into the Oakland Activities Association Red/White tournament on Saturday, Feb. 4, the only words coming from varsity wrestling coach Brandon Rank was "control."
The objective was simple - win the league tournament, bring home a share of the league title.
Control is exactly what Oxford did as they dominated the competition to win the first-ever OAA Red/White tournament.
Oxford finished with 265 points, nearly 50 points ahead of Rochester, the lone team to beat the Wildcats in league play this season, who finished with 216 points.
Rounding out the top five were Clarkston, Stoney Creek and Lake Orion.
The 12-team tournament consisted of schools from both the OAA Red and White divisions.
Rank said it felt good to come back after the loss to Rochester and get a share of the league title.
"The thing we could control was our performance at the individual tournament. How we went out and competed," Rank said. "The biggest thing we stressed all week was don't be happy to win by three points. Let's wrestle an exciting style, score a lot of points so we can go out and get our major decisions, get our tech falls, get our falls and score the most points we possibly can."
"I think the kids had fun with that," he added. "I think they took it as a challenge and they really performed well there," he said.
According to Rank, the Wildcats sent eight kids to the finals, with four coming out as individual league champions - Daniel Curtis (112) beat Nimantha Herath of Farmington 6-2; Kyle Hill (125) beat Andrew Failka of Farmington Hills Harrison via pinfall; Marty Giannola (160) got a 9-1 major decision victory over Ethan Gros of Lake Orion and Prescott Line (215) defeated Serge Andreou of Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 5-2.
Finishing second for Oxford was Mike Willits (130), Rocco Borg (140), Wesley Maskill (145) and Jacob Peasley (152).
"Our kids did what we told them we had to do - pins in the early rounds. Score all the bonus points," Rank said.
Rank said six of the eight kids who made the finals scored pinfall victories in each match. "That's a lot of points their getting with their advancement and bonus," he said.
Anthony Moore (119), Noah Cantara (135), Grant Krause (189) and Zach Wood (285) each finished fourth.
Rank said he was impressed with how well Moore wrestled.
"(He) had a fantastic tournament and scored a lot of points for us," Rank said.
Now comes postseason play, which begins with team districts against Lake Orion on Thursday, Feb. 9.
"We are going into districts...looking to not have any sort of letdowns and keep continuing to score as many bonus points as we can," Rank said.
Oxford shutout Lake Orion 72-0 in their meeting Jan. 18. If the Wildcats get by the Dragons Feb. 9, they will square off against the winner of Rochester Adams and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek.
Individual districts begin on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Rochester High School.
"Seeing the kids accomplish their goals, that is something as a staff we are always excited to see," he said. "They have an opportunity to go out there and put it all on the line and take it as far as they can."
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.