Wrestling team looks to win league, district, regional titles this year
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The varsity wrestling program from Grayling High School has high expectations for this season with a squad that includes several returning contributors, including four state qualifiers from last year.
“This year we need to set it big. State quarterfinals is the ultimate goal,” Coach Andy Moore said. “State quarterfinals is very attainable with hard work.”
Coach Moore said he hopes the team will have at least four individual state qualifiers this year, and the squad is looking to extend its streak of Lake Michigan Conference titles to eight this season.
“League (championship) is always a goal,” Coach Moore said.
The wrestling program started its official practice sessions for the 2019-2020 season on Monday, November 18. Coach Moore said overall numbers were a little lower than he expected during the first week, but the roster has a lot of quality wrestlers.
“The numbers aren’t where I wanted them to be or expected them to be, but they’re good. We’re a little higher than we were last year. The talent level is there for sure,” Coach Moore said.
The roster will feature a mix of grades and experience levels.
“We’re pretty spread out, young to old, which is great. We’re not too young,” Coach Moore said.
Coach Moore said the early practice sessions went well.
“The new kids we have here are really picking it up faster than we thought. I’m actually happy with how things are going,” Coach Moore said.
Practices featured skill work and conditioning during the November sessions.
“First part of practice is conditioning, then skills,” Coach Moore said.
Coach Moore said the strength of this year’s squad is the four returning state qualifiers from last year (Max Halstead, Zach Duncan, Joe Armstrong, and Thomas May), plus the “leadership of the kids who didn’t qualify.”
Coach Moore said he expects “constant improvement each week” from his team, and he’s hoping the wrestlers will set and meet their individual goals.
“I expect Max to compete for a state championship and I expect the other three state qualifiers to be state placers,” Coach Moore said.
In order for the team to accomplish its goal of reaching the state quarterfinals as a group, the Vikings will have to win districts and regionals.
For the start of the team playoffs, Grayling is in District 166-3 this year with Boyne City and Cheboygan. The Vikings will host the tournament.
“I expect big things out of this team. Postseason draw is favorable for us to make a nice run and I expect us to do it,” Coach Moore said.
The wrestling team will open its 2019-2020 season with a meet at Petoskey on Wednesday, December 11. The squad will compete in the Oscoda Invitational on Saturday, December 14. Grayling will host a four-team meet at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 18.
The Vikings will host an individual tournament on Saturday, December 21, and Grayling will host a team tournament on Saturday, January 11. The wrestling team also has meets and tournaments at Escanaba, Coleman, Ithaca, Shepherd, Boyne City, and Mio during the 2019-2020 campaign.
“I like our schedule,” Coach Moore said. “Good mix of team and individual tournaments.”