January 05, 2011 - Oxford wrestlers survived a couple of grueling matches to sweep the annual Oxford Invite on Wednesday, Dec. 29.
After breezing through their first three matches against Livonia Franklin (49-18), the Holly B team (69-12) and Durand (60-18), the Wildcats had to hold on to beat Lake Fenton 32-31 and come from behind to beat Hudson 34-33.
"It was pretty exciting stuff," wrestling coach Brad Keeney said. "We stepped it up a little bit this year...and we tried to beef it up because of our goals this year."
Keeney added that the kids went back to what has defined Oxford wrestling in the past.
"They were just tough as nails and they just wore kids out and we just out-toughed people," he said.
After Oxford jumped out to an early lead against Hudson, Hudson roared back, pinning four of the next five Wildcats to take the lead.
Senior Ben Ralston was able to keep Oxford within striking distance of Hudson with a 19-8 major decision at 171 lbs.
However, senior Dylan Smith turned the tide back in Oxford's favor with his pinfall victory. Senior Keegan Cantara followed with a 9-4 decision and the teams traded victories in the next few matches.
With Oxford trailing by two entering the last match, senior Mike Thomas capped off the comeback with a 2-0 victory over his opponent.
Keeney thought that Thomas and junior Kyle Hill came up big for Oxford throughout the entire Invite.
"They wrestled very consistently and wrestled flawless matches the whole day," Keeney said. "They wrestled under pressure and did a great job."
"Our whole team wrestled well...I had a hard time picking a wrestler of the week because everyone wrestled really, really well," Keeney added. "We stood out as a team."
With the victories, the Wildcats move to 18-1 on the season. They travel to Troy Athens on Wednesday, Jan. 5 before participating in the Novi Detroit Catholic Central Invite on Jan. 8.
Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.