Source: Sherman Publications

Rank moves up in ranks to head wrestling coach

by Andrew Moser

November 02, 2011

Following the departure of varsity wrestling coach Brad Keeney this past July, Oxford High School Athletic Director Mike Watson was put in the enviable position of filling Keeney’s shoes.

All Keeney did during his lone year was lead the Wildcats to a team state title and have three individual state champions.

However, Watson did not have to look very hard to find the next leading man for the Wildcats.

In fact, all he had to do was look at the assistant coaches.

On Wednesday, Oct. 26, Watson announced the OHS Athletic Department was recommending to the Oxford Community Schools Board of Education to promote current assistant coach Brandon Rank to the position of head wrestling coach, effective immediately.

“He is a great addition for us because he knows the kids (and) the kids know him,” Watson said. “They know what kind of person he is, they know what kind of instructor he is...we are excited to get started with Brandon as the new coach.”

“I tell you what, I couldn’t be more exited,” Rank said. “Working with great kids, working with a great support staff, having coach (Paul) McDevitt as a mentor, I mean it’s a perfect situation for me.”

According to Watson, the Wildcats are going to be led by a “fantastic technical wrestling coach” who is “one of the best I have ever seen.”

Rank said his technical prowess came through continual practice.

“In my career, every takedown that I’ve practiced, I’ve done it thousands and thousands of times,” he said. “I’ve been forced to concentrate on doing things perfectly.”

He is hoping to install that type of work ethic on his players.

“You don’t just step onto a wrestling mat and all of a sudden be fantastic. It takes preparation,” Rank said.

“In a given week, we have four main takedowns, and I would guess they drill each of those 250 times a week. Over a season, we are talking thousands of times. So at the end of the year, when we are in big matches, those things translate into success from the repetition and the intense repetition,” Rank said.

Competing for the Algonac High School

Muskrats, Rank quickly became one of the most decorated wrestlers in school history. A 1997 graduate, Rank was named an all-state wrestler four times. During his senior season, he captured the MHSAA Division Two 135-pound state championship and was named to the Asics Wrestling All-America honorable mention team in.

Rank would continue his wrestling career for three years at Central Michigan University, and upon graduating in 2001, he was an assistant coach at Chippewa Hills High School in Remus for five years.

He began wrestling with the Oxford youth wrestling club when it was first formed, and would later return in 2006 as an assistant coach under Scott Couch.

“It was just a real nice move to get back into the area, get to be around family...I was already familiar with most of the people in it (the program),” Rank said.

Since then, Rank has enjoyed tremendous success as a Wildcat. He was named the Michigan Wrestling Association Assistant Coach of the Year in 2009, and was a first assistant to Keeney during the Wildcats state title run last year.

Watson noted although Rank’s previous coaching experience has been at the assistant level, his qualifications still compared favorably with candidates with experience as a head coach. “His technical expertise and what he knows wrestling wise, and relationships he has with other coaches and such, make him just as strong a candidate of those who may have applied for this position,” he said.

Rank said intensity and accountability are his main focus this season, which kicks off Dec. 8 against Davison, who the Wildcats beat in districts last year.

“You don’t get to be a top flight wrestling program without treating these young men like young men,” Rank said. “Win or lose, make them think back on the match, what is working, what is not working, where can we move to go forward.”

Another goal of Rank’s is to make sure the entire wrestling program in Oxford is on the same page with their instructions and techniques. He would like to see the middle school doing exactly what the high school is doing, and the youth wrestling club do what the middle school is doing.