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Grapplers win team regionals, head to states

February 23, 2011 - Team regionals were not quite as dramatic as team districts for the Wildcat varsity wrestling team.

Oxford knew it was the team to beat heading into their regional matches on Wednesday, Feb. 16. They went out and proved it by beating Saginaw Heritage 59-12 in the opening round and trouncing Bay-City Western 66-7 in the championship match to claim regionals for the fourth consecutive year.

"The kids wrestled really awesome," varsity head coach Brad Keeney said.

"The kids wrestled with a purpose and what I liked about last night was that we were working on getting more aggressive and the kids were real aggressive, and it paid off," he added.

The Wildcat's would win 12 of 14 matches against Saginaw Heritage and Bay City Western.

"In the regional tournament, you are going to have two district champs, so you can't take anyone lightly," Keeney said. "So we prepared all week to have two tough matches and luckily the kids wrestled good enough that we escaped pretty easily."

With matches clinched early on, Keeney was able to give some of his normal point scorers a match or two off so they could rest up for the individual regionals later in the week.

Since Oxford was trying to secure the second seed in the state finals, they needed a good showing in regionals to show "we were head and shoulders above everybody in our region," Keeney said.

When the state individual finals begin on Friday, March 3 at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Oxford will send nine wrestlers to battle to become the number one wrestler in their weight class.

"To get nine out of that regional is pretty impressive," Keeney said. "We travel all the way to the west side of the state...and we get to see the best of the west side."

During the regional competition on Saturday, Feb. 19, three Wildcats were able to capture regional championships.

Senior Ben Ralston dominated his bracket, winning the 160 lb. division with a 19-4 technical fall over Trevis Harrold of Saginaw Heritage. In his semi-final match, he won by a 17-2 technical fall over Zach VanEss of Hudsonville.

Junior Prescott Line showed he was going to be a force to reckon with at the state finals as he dominated the 215 lb. weight division as well.

Line pinned his finals opponent, Dillon Schmitt of Caledon, with 36 seconds left in the match. In the semi-finals, Line won 15-0 over Wildcat teammate, senior Nick McMaster, and dominated East Kentwood's Ninlo Diarrassouba 11-2 in the opening round.

Senior Matt Frisch also proved he was going to be the man to beat at the 145 lb. weight class. He dominated Jared Zimmerman of Hudsonville in the championship match, winning 11-4.

Frisch's road to the regional championship began with an impressive 13-3 win over East Kentwood's Austin Geerlings. In the semi-finals, Frisch defeated Chase Singleton of Caledon, 12-4.

"They wrestled really awesome...I wasn't surprised considering how much effort they have been putting into practice and how much they have been willing to pay to be successful."

Coming in second during regionals were Senior Dylan Smith, senior Keegan Cantara, sophomore Rocco Borg and senior Mike Thomas.

Junior Kyle Hill and junior Matt Anger finished third.

The Wildcats were able to secure the second seed and will face Southgate Anderson, who finished the season 24-4, in the opening round.

If they get by Southgate, they will face the winner of the Hartland/Romeo match in the semi-finals.

"We got the toughest first round draw...out of the bottom four teams, Southgate Anderson is certainly the best," Keeney said. "They are tough all the way up and down the line-up, but so are we."

Even with the tough first round draw, Keeney expects the Wildcats to be able to pull through and battle their way to a potential finals match-up with Novi Detroit Catholic Central.

All of the exciting team action takes place in Battle Creek on Friday, Feb. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 26.

Andrew Moser is a staff writer for the Oxford Leader.
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