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Winning state title is grapplers only goal this season



Wrestling
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Back Row L-R: Marty Giannola, Piper Thaler, Prescott Line, Drew Therian, Mike Tuski, Spencer Fulk, Allen Bozeman, Nick McMaster, Keegan Kypers, Zach Hadorne, Richard Martin Second Row L-R: Mike Thomas, Sam Hendrix, Zach Wood, Meshach Crane, Mike Smith, Mike Baggett, Cody Shumaker, Chase Janssen, Grant Krause, Liam Logan, Jordan Goodman, Tom Spicuzza Third Row L-R: Joe Ruff, Patrick Noskey, Grant Lumm, Matt Anger, Vito Giannola, Cody Westmoreland, Jacob Keoppen, Jacob VanHeez Fourth Row L-R: (unknown), Jacob Peasley, Jake Williams, Chance Garcia, Braxton Sparks, Josh Chartrand, Noah Cantara, Kyle Hill Fifth Row L-R: Zeb Throne, Nathan Schmidt, Brian Broughan, Coach Joe Zmikly, Coach Bob Rhodes, Coach Jake Shagina, Coach Alan Wilfong, Coach Paul McDevitt, Coach John Logan, Andrew Gibbons, James Corbin, Shane Kerbelis Sixth Row L-R: Chance Melone, Luke Champion, Mike Willits, Hunter Deeg, Wesley Maskill, Ben Line, Devon Ciak, Rocco Borg, Dan Curtis, Dylan Smith, Jake Williams, Alex Grodzicki, Andrew Dutzy Front Row: Matt Frisch, Ben Ralston, Jake Stump, Dakota Peasley, Keegan Cantara. (click for larger version)
December 01, 2010 - Even with a coaching change, expectations are still high for the varsity wrestling team.

This summer, former coach Scott Couch stepped down as head coach, allowing Brad Keeney to take over a squad coming off back-to-back state semifinal appearances.

His only goal this season is to take the Wildcats to the next level and win a state title. "I don't think we can have any other goal at this point," Keeney said.

Keeney and his staff spent time going over the program and revamping it, particularly in the areas of strength, conditioning and biometrics.

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According to Keeney, the wrestlers have really responded. "They are really working hard...the kids are focused and that is what they need to be," he said.

The Wildcats will be challenged each and every night they step onto the mat when they face off against Oakland Activities Association (OAA) opponents this season. Placed in the Red Division, they will battle OAA powers Clarkston, Lake Orion, Rochester Adams, Avondale, West Bloomfield and Troy Athens.

If that wasn't tough enough, they stepped up their non-league schedule.

They open up the season at home Dec. 1 against Lowell (ranked second in division two) and Davison (ranked eighth in division one).

On Dec. 4, they will participate in the Warren Woods Tower tournament, where they could run into Dundee (third overall in the state) and a rematch against Lowell.

Add in the Oakland County tournament, the always tough Oxford Invitational, two matches with Detroit Catholic Central and face St. Johns, the top ranked team in the state, at Michigan State University on Jan. 21.

That schedule is just fine with Keeney.

"I believe that if you are going to beat the best, you have to wrestle them and you have to have experience with them," he said. "The only way for us to get better is to wrestle better competition, and I believe the OAA will bring better competition."

The Wildcats will be prepared for that schedule because of nine returning starters from last year bring plenty of experience.

"These kids have been to the state tournament and they have been in multiple venues and have been extremely competitive," he said. "These kids have been there, they have the experience."

Keeney noted that seniors Matt Frisch, Keegan Cantara, Dakota Peasley and Ben Ralston have really taken a leadership role on the team.

"The exceptional leadership they are showing is great," Keeney said. "The kids are stepping up . . . and doing a fantastic job of setting the tone for the rest of the team.."

He added that the rest of the seniors and returners from last year really help out the coaches because they teach the newcomers the ropes of competing at the varsity level.

Keeney noted that senior Dylan Smith and freshmen Mike Willits and Zach Wood will be looked upon to make contributions.

The Wildcats will open the season on Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. Admission to the event will be a can of food, which will go towards the teams food drive for Oxford/Orion FISH.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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