Wrestlers look to continue their success as a team and as individuals
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The wrestling team from Grayling High School – with a mix of successful, experienced upper classmen and several young wrestlers expected to contribute – is getting ready for another season, a year that could include significant individual milestones as well as more team achievements.
Coach Andy Moore said the program will have around “20 to 22” wrestlers “when it’s all said and done.”
Coach Moore said he’s expecting a lot out of his core group of seniors: Reece Ferrigan, Cole Hibbard, Andrew Hopkins, and Tyler Withers. They are all going into their fourth season of varsity wrestling at GHS.
Coach Moore said the team also has a “big group of freshmen” that brings a lot of experience from the youth wrestling program.
“We’re looking for big things out of them, too,” Coach Moore said.
During the fall, several Viking wrestlers participated in offseason conditioning and weight training work to get ready for the 2017-2018 winter campaign. Coach Moore reported “good turnout” for the offseason program.
“They hit it pretty hard,” Coach Moore said.
Coach Moore said he adjusted early season practice formats from last year, moving away from the large amount of conditioning early on in the season and working more on technique. The Vikings started their official practice sessions on Monday, Nov. 13.
“We tried to change it up a little,” Coach Moore said. “It was a really good first day.”
The squad worked on fundamentals during the early practices, going from instruction and drills to live wrestling, Coach Moore said.
“This year the main focus is getting the basic moves down,” Coach Moore said.
Strengths of this year’s group? Returners, and depth, Coach Moore said.
“I think our strength is our returners. They went out and recruited some new kids from the school. The captains recruited and got more kids up here,” Coach Moore said.
Something to improve upon? Coach Moore said the squad needs to get better at performing well late in tournaments.
“We need to improve on not letting losses bother us. We’ve got to work on finishing meets, finishing matches,” Coach Moore said. “That’s our big thing this year.”
Team goals? Several.
“We want to get out of districts. We lost to Gladstone the last couple of years. That came more from my captains than me. My goal for the team is we want 10 individual conference champions, we want eight regional qualifiers, and four state qualifiers. That’s our goal right there,” Coach Moore said.
The Vikings will start their 2017-2018 season with a meet at Petoskey on Wednesday, Dec. 6. On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Vikings will compete in the Oscoda Invitational. The Vikings have two regular season home meets on their schedule for this year: the Grayling Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 13, and a three-team meet on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Also, during the postseason, Grayling will host the Michigan High School Athletic Association Individual District 17-3 tournament on Saturday, Feb. 10.
The wrestling program will likely have a few individual milestones again this year, including the possibility of some all-time records being broken.
The Vikings have two wrestlers, maybe three, within reach of 100 victories. Hibbard, a senior, needs 12 wins to reach 100. Logan Joseph, a junior, “is 37 wins away from 100, so he’s got a chance,” Coach Moore said.
Halstead, a sophomore, had 40-plus wins last year, and could possibly approach 100 with another really strong season. Reaching 100 victories as a sophomore is a very rare accomplishment for a wrestler. Many do not reach the 100-win mark in their four-year careers.
Ferrigan and Hopkins both hit the 100-victory plateau last year as juniors, a feat not often accomplished in high school wrestling. Hopkins has 100 wins and Ferrigan has 119 wins going into the 2017-2018 season, Coach Moore said.
Ferrigan is on pace to pass the school’s all-time pin record – he has 97 pins going into his senior season – and he could challenge the school’s all-time record for career wins.
“Reece is a couple pins from 100. One-hundred and nine is the record. He also has a shot at the overall win record. He will have to stay healthy and make the state finals, but that is attainable,” Coach Moore said.