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Grapplers capture first OAA red championship

Left: Noah Cantera makes his Rochester Adams opponent cry for mercy. (click for larger version)
February 09, 2011 - Oxford's wrestling team didn't have to travel very far to capture their first-ever Oakland Activities Association red division championship on Friday, Feb. 4.

Wrestling in front of a raucous home crowd at Oxford High School, the Wildcats dominated the event, finishing with 266 points, nearly 100 points over second place Rochester High School, who finished with 168.5 points. Clarkston came in third with 163.5 points.

"I'm just proud of the kids," varsity head coach Brad Keeney said. "I think the kids wrestled fantastic so far. We got through our first season as successful as we could have been...the kids made monumental gains and now we are ready to go to the postseason."

It was the first OAA championship in any sport for Oxford since joining the OAA in the fall of 2010.

The Wildcats did not have a wrestler finish lower than fourth place in the 14 weight classes.

Oxford finished with a total seven individual championships; two championships were won by double-digits (senior Matt Frisch 15-5 over West Bloomfield's Avery Hassenauer at 145 lbs. and senior Ben Ralston 20-5 over Mike Henige of Clarkston at 160 lbs.) and Senior Mike Thomas defeated Kevin Jock of Rochester Adams 10-5 to win the 135 lb. division.

However, the Wildcats had to wait till the final buzzer sounded in four weight classes before they could celebrate.

At 112, senior Keegan Cantera defeated Josh Wood of Rochester 8-6; sophomore Rocco Borg (119) beat Trevor Wright of Avondale 5-3; senior Dakota Peasley (152) sweated out a 4-1 victory over Rochester Adams' Ben Hart and junior Prescott Line (215) won a grueling 3-2 decision over Paul Mikhjian of Rochester Adams.

Jacob Peasley (130) finished second for the Wildcats. He lost a 4-2 decision to Victor Vettese of Avondale.

Finishing third for the Wildcats were sophomore Daniel Curtis, junior Noah Cantera, junior Matt Anger and senior Nick McMaster.

Sophomore Liam Logan and freshman Wesley Maskill finished fourth.

"One of the reasons we were that successful was because the kids wrestled confident, they wrestled with a sense of urgency and they did what they needed to do to get us ready for the post season," Keeney said.

Friday's first-place finish puts a cap on a season which saw the Wildcats dominate OAA red division opponents.

Oxford finished a perfect 7-0 in league play, defeating their opponents by an average score of 62-9. They also shut out two league opponents, Troy Athens 84-0 and West Bloomfield 75-0.

"The OAA was definitely a tough conference and it was a nice transition," Keeney said.

"There were a lot of tough teams, but we went through and pretty much steamrolled a lot of teams because we were so used to wrestling at that top level of competition, it was almost like a practice to get ready for the end," Keeney noted.

Oxford finishes the season with a 28-4 record, with losses coming against Davison (second in division one), Richmond (first in division three), Novi Detroit Catholic Central (first in division one) and St. Johns (first in division two).

"We wrestled every top ranked team in the state to prepare ourselves, both mentally, physically and emotionally to be able to perform without being nervous, without being caught up in the moment of the big venue atmosphere and the kids did well," Keeney said. "Losing to those kinds of teams wasn't a negative thing. Losing to those kinds of teams taught us something. Every time we lost this year we learned something little that we needed to get better at as a team."

The Wildcats will face the winner of the first round district match between Davison and Grand Blanc at home on Wednesday, Feb. 9 beginning at 6 p.m. Everyone who attends is asked to wear gold and part in the "Gold Out" efforts.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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