Source: Sherman Publications

Blackhawks Flint Metro League Champions

by Susan Bromley

February 19, 2014

Brandon Twp.- The Brandon Blackhawks wrestlers finished their first season with Coach Erik Donders with a 3-26 record.

Seven years later, the team and Donders have turned it around, recently completing their season with a 32-4 record, finishing as Flint Metro League Team Champions for the first time in school history, and as Michigan High School Athletic Association team district champions for the first time in 20 years.

Along with these impressive accomplishments, Donders has also been named the 2014 Flint Metro League Coach of the Year.

“The kids made me look good this year,” said Donders humbly. “I’m only as good as the kids are. If they are showing hard work and commitment, it makes me look good. Our program has come far. We’ve had continuous growth every year, just by the kids showing more and more commitment to getting better.”

On Feb. 12, the Blackhawks competed in the MHSAA team regionals at Yale High School. They lost 36-33 to Warren Woods Tower, missing the chance for state team competition. However, seven Brandon grapplers qualified for MHSAA individual state competition, to be held Feb. 28, March 1-2, at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Qualifying during competition Feb. 15 at North Branch High School were Brendan Ladd (103 lbs., 48-2); Bryan LaVearn (112 lbs., 47-1); Gordy Dwyer (130 lbs., 39-10); Ethan Douglas (135 lbs., 45-10); Trevor Bourdeau (140 lbs., 44-6); Max Wardell (160 lbs., 39-7); and Matt Sears (171 lbs., 42-9).

“Developing the kids at early ages, in middle school and even before, shows commitment from people in the community, parents and other coaches,” said Donders. “You can’t do it all by yourself.”

He is proud, too, that for the fifth year in a row, the Blackhawks wrestlers will be recognized for academic all-state, with a team grade point average of 3.56. In the senior class this year, seven athletes have plans to attend college.

“Whenever you lose a senior class of this caliber, you hope you don’t have a drop-off in leadership, but we have a good group of kids coming back next year,” said Donders, who expects to have nine returning starters next year.