Practices begin for Grayling High School winter sports teams
Games and meets for boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling, skiing, and bowling to begin soon
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
Practices for Grayling High School’s winter sports teams are now underway, with the first games and meets slated for early December.
Girls basketball practice sessions started on Monday, November 11. Grayling will have two teams this year: varsity and junior varsity. The program does not have enough players for a freshman squad.
“We just don’t have enough for a freshman team. There are only two teams in our league that have freshman (girls) basketball,” said Nate Maury, Grayling High School Athletic Director.
The coaching staff will be the same as last year with Dan Brandt (varsity) and Doug Paulus (junior varsity) both returning to their roles.
The varsity program lost a few seniors to graduation, but it will have several returning players.
“On the varsity side, they return most of their team. Their biggest thing is they’ll be extremely physical, full court press start to finish,” Maury said.
The JV and varsity girls basketball teams from GHS will open their 2019-2020 seasons with road games at Roscommon High School on Thursday, December 5, beginning with the junior varsity contest at 5:30 p.m. Both teams will host Houghton Lake – another nonconference opponent – on Monday, December 9, with the JV game slated to start at 5:30 p.m. On Tuesday, December 17, the JV and varsity Vikings will host Harbor Springs – their first Lake Michigan Conference opponent on the schedule – beginning with the JV game at 5:30 p.m.
As in years past, once the league schedule begins, the varsity girls will play on the same nights as the varsity boys on Fridays, and they will share game nights with the junior varsity girls on Mondays and Tuesdays. Thursday game nights will feature JV girls and JV boys together, with the junior varsity girls playing the first contest of the doubleheader.
For the playoffs, Grayling’s varsity girls basketball team will be in District 34 this year with Boyne City, Cheboygan, Kalkaska, Kingsley, and Sault Ste. Marie, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association. Boyne City is listed as the tournament host and games are slated for March 2, 4, and 6.
The boys basketball program started its official practice sessions on Monday, November 18. The program will have the same head coaches as last year: Rich Reilly (varsity), Tyler McClanahan (junior varsity), and Jeremie Mead (freshman).
Maury said the varsity squad will have a young group, but many of the players were able to get some valuable experience playing summer league basketball.
“For varsity, not a lot of seniors. An influx of sophomores and juniors are going to push that team,” Maury said.
Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball team will start its 2019-2020 season with two nonconference home games. On Tuesday, December 10, the Vikings will host Standish-Sterling Central; JV game starts at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity contest will follow. On Friday, December 13, the two boys basketball teams will host Traverse City Christian beginning with the JV game at 5:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, December 17, the JV and varsity boys basketball teams will begin the Lake Michigan Conference portion of their schedules with games at Harbor Springs.
For the postseason, according to the MHSAA, the Vikings will host the District 34 tournament. Games are scheduled for March 9, 11, 13. District 34 schools will include Boyne City, Cheboygan, Grayling, Kalkaska, Kingsley, and Sault Ste. Marie.
The MHSAA made a change to its boys basketball and girls basketball district tournaments this year, implementing a seeding process.
“Girls and boys basketball will employ a seeding process to place the top two teams in every district on opposite sides of that bracket, guaranteeing those two teams could not play each other before the district championship game,” according to the MHSAA. “The two teams to be seeded in each district will be determined using a Michigan Power Ratings computer formula based on regular-season results against other MHSAA tournament-eligible teams and opponents’ strength of schedule. The MHSAA will draw all brackets two weeks before the start of district play. After the top seeds are determined and separated to opposite sides of the bracket, the draw process will place the remaining teams on the bracket based on a randomly selected order determined earlier in the season. The draw process does not guarantee the seeded teams will receive byes or serve as home teams.”
Andy Moore is back as the wrestling coach for Grayling High School. The Vikings will bring a streak of seven consecutive Lake Michigan Conference championships into the year, and Maury expects the team to extend it to eight.
“The numbers are looking pretty strong. Should be a fun season,” Maury said. “He’s got a lot of returners back. We’re looking to claim our eighth straight conference title this year.”
Grayling High School will host team districts and individual districts this year. The District 166-3 team tournament will feature Boyne City, Cheboygan, and Grayling this year, according to the MHSAA.
“The way the MHSAA has drawn districts and regionals we have a very good chance to reach the quarterfinals,” Maury said.
The District 17-3 individual district tournament will feature wrestlers from Benzie Central, Boyne City, Cheboygan, Elk Rapids, Gladstone, Grayling, Kalkaska, Kingsford, Kingsley, Lake City, Ludington, Manistee, Menominee, Negaunee, and Reed City, according to the MHSAA.
The wrestling team will open its season with a meet at Petoskey on Wednesday, December 11. The squad will compete in the Oscoda Invitational on Saturday, December 14. On Wednesday, December 18, Grayling will host Kalkaska, Ogemaw Heights, and Traverse City West at 6 p.m. The Vikings will host an individual tournament at 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 21.
Ellie Smith is the new Grayling High School varsity ski coach. Smith, a Grayling High School graduate, is a special education teacher at GHS. Previously, she coached skiing at Mt. Pleasant, Maury said.
“Numbers for them are at the low end of things of what our ski program used to be,” Maury said. “She returns the majority of her skiers for the boys. A couple of the girls are back.”
The Lake Michigan Conference – Grayling’s athletic league – is known as one of the strongest with regard to varsity skiing.
“We see the top competition. It makes us better,” Maury said.
The ski team’s first meet is slated for Thursday, January 9, 2020, at Nub’s Nob.
Grayling High School has a new addition to its sports line-up this winter: bowling. Years ago, GHS had bowling as a club sport, and the school is bringing it back this year at the request of students.
“We are bringing bowling back. It will be a club sport for the first couple years,” Maury said.
Maury told interested students that the school would be open to bringing bowling back if they “could produce the numbers.”
“It’s just grown from there,” Maury said. “It’s a lifelong sport like golf or tennis. A lot of kids like that aspect of it.”
Maury said 29 kids expressed interest. Travis Hulbert will be the coach of the bowling club this year.
Legion Lanes in Grayling will serve as the squad’s home bowling alley. The team will be an independent (no conference) for the 2019-2020 season. Maury expects the program to join a conference in the future.
The bowling team will compete against the Roscommon Bucks at Fred’s of Roscommon on Monday, December 9, at 6 p.m.