Wrestling team opens season with three close wins
Tue, 02/16/2021 - 2:08pm caleb
Vikings edge Oscoda, Onaway, and Ogemaw Heights on Saturday during matches decided by the final weight classes
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The varsity wrestling squad from Grayling High School hosted a four-team meet on Saturday, and the Vikings – in their first competition of the 2020-2021 season – defeated all three of their opponents, and all three series came down to the final weight class to determine the winner.
First, Grayling battled the Oscoda Owls.
The Vikings took an early 6-0 lead with a first round pin by Logan Malonen in the heavyweight division. Oscoda won by pin at 103. Kylie Berringer (112) and Joe Armstrong (119) won by default for Grayling. The Vikings led 18-6.
Grayling forfeited at 125 and 135 and lost by pin at 130. Neither squad had a wrestler at 140. Oscoda led 24-18 with six weight classes remaining.
At 145, Tucker Mertes won by tech fall, 18-2, earning five team points for GHS. Cole Dickie won by default at 152. Both teams forfeited at 160.
With three weight divisions left, Grayling had a 29-24 advantage.
Jake Huspen won by default at 171. Oscoda won by pin in the 189-pound division. With one weight class left, Grayling led 35-30. The Owls needed a pin to win.
At 215, Yeng Xiong pinned his Oscoda counterpart in the first round to clinch a 41-30 victory for Grayling.
Next, the Vikings wrestled against the Onaway Cardinals.
Caleb Baker (103) won by default for Grayling. Onaway scored a pin at 112, tying the score at 6-6. Armstrong (119) pinned his Onaway opponent in round one.
Neither squad had a competitor at 125. Katelyn Moore (130) and Jesse Vandecasteele (135) won for the Vikings by default. Both teams forfeited at 140.
With seven weight classes left in the series, Grayling led 24-6.
Mertes (145) won by decision, 17-5, for four team points.
The Cardinals won by pin at 152, 171, 189, and 215, giving Onaway a 30-28 advantage going into the final bout of the series. (Both teams forfeited at 160).
In the last weight class – heavyweight – Malonen won by pin vs. Onaway in the first round, securing a 34-30 victory for Grayling vs. the Cardinals.
The Vikings ended their day with a series vs. the Falcons of West Branch Ogemaw Heights.
Grayling won the first match – 112 pounds – with a first round pin by Armstrong. Berringer (119) won by default. Both teams forfeited at 125. Ogemaw Heights won by pin at 130. The Vikings forfeited at 135 and 140. Mertes pinned his Ogemaw Heights counterpart in the second round, tying the score at 18-18.
Grayling did not have a wrestler at 152. Dickie (160) won by default for the Vikings. Ogemaw Heights scored first round pins at 171 and 189 to lead 36-24.
Xiong won by default at 215. At heavyweight, Malonen won by pin in the second round, tying the score at 36-36.
Baker – in the last weight class remaining, 103 pounds – won by default. Grayling won the series 42-36.
“You can’t ask for a better start than that,” Coach Andy Moore said. “All three matches went to the end, to the last match.”
The Vikings will host another quad meet on Saturday, February 20, at 10 a.m.
Some tickets for wrestling home meets may be available. Initially, the school opted to go with spectator limits of two per athlete.
“For wrestling matches tickets will be sold via GoFan. Each school will receive a link ahead of time to send out to their respective teams for pre-sale. The day before the match the link will become live to the general public and if there are extra tickets they may be purchased from there. You can find the link by going to gofan.com and searching for Grayling High School,” according to the GHS athletic department.
GHS wrestling squad ready to get back on the mats
Vikings prepare for season with one week of normal practices following weeks of non-contact sessions
How do you prepare for a contact sport when contact isn’t allowed?
“It’s challenging,” said Grayling High School wrestling coach Andy Moore. “You’re showing some new guys some stuff and they don’t understand why they’re doing it.”
Coach Moore said it was “almost refreshing” to be able to slow things down and work on the mechanics of moves during the non-contact sessions. The team also did a lot of running to get in shape.
“They did a lot of conditioning for sure,” Coach Moore said.
In mid-November, in response to rising COVID-19 numbers in the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an epidemic order that suspended all indoor high school winter sports activity. Weeks later, in mid-January, the MDHHS revised its order to allow indoor sports such as basketball and wrestling to begin non-contact practices, with games and meets expected to begin as early as February 1; however, another order revision by the MDHHS in late January extended the suspension of contact practices until February 21.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services made another adjustment on Thursday, February 4, allowing high school “contact” winter sports to participate in normal practices and competition as early as the week of February 8. It was a welcome change for the GHS wrestling program.
“I’m happy we were able to have contact when we did. Non-contact drills, you can only do so many. Running, that gets a little boring as well,” Coach Moore said.
With the multiple changes in regulations from MDHHS, the wrestling schedule had to be revised several times, but now the squad is ready to compete. Wrestlers can participate in matches without face masks, but they have to be tested regularly for COVID-19.
“It’s been definitely challenging for everybody in Michigan,” Coach Moore said.
Coach Moore said this year’s program has a mix of experienced wrestlers and people who are new to the varsity squad. He said overall numbers are at 15, “a little down” from the team’s usual number of around 20.
“We’ve got a good mix of new guys and some veteran guys that have been around for a while,” Coach Moore said.
The GHS wrestling squad was able to conduct one full week of practice from February 8 through February 12 before its first meet on Saturday, February 13.
“It’s nice that we had this week of practice. The new guys are getting it pretty quick,” Coach Moore said.
Coach Moore said his goals for this year’s team are to win the Lake Michigan Conference title for the ninth time in a row and win a district championship while having the wrestlers on the squad “fall in love with the sport.”
“That’s always our goal is to win the conference title again,” Coach Moore said. “I want to get the kids to love the sport and want to continue to do it.”