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Clare's Logan Emery, shown here during action earlier this week, wants to make it to the MHSAA state finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills later this season. (Sun Photo by KEN KADWELL)
PREP WRESTLING: Clare and Farwell have plenty of individual goals in 2014
Farwell coach Tyler Lentovich, shown here during action last month, won a state title at Shepherd in 2002 and wants to turn the Eagles in a JPC power. (Sun Photo by KEN KADWELL)
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Over the past five years both the Clare and Farwell High School wrestling programs have had their share of success on an individual level.
It appears that that is going to have to be the case in 2014 too because both the Pioneers and Eagles don’t have enough numbers-wise to make serious runs at conference or team district titles.
As it stands both teams have to void four or five weight classes during dual meet action, which gives the opposition six points per void and makes winning very difficult.
Thus catching the likes of conference powerhouse Roscommon, and this year Sanford-Meridian, is a near impossibility for both programs.
Despite this fact both teams still have lofty goals, albeit goals that are based on individual results rather than team results.
Over the past five years three Pioneers have earned All-State honors as the MHSAA individual state finals in Brandon Ayris (8th at 171 in 2013), Chris Aiken (7th at 125 in 2011) and J Jessup (7th at 145 in 2009) while two Eagles have also taken to the podium in Tristen Zienkiewicz (6th at 160 in 2013) and Trenton Spivey (6th at 112 in 2011). Moreover 12 Clare wrestlers have advanced to the season-ending meet during this time frame while nine Eagles have done the same.
“We have got to come out and pin five guys just to get back to even, it’s tough when you don’t wrestle with a full squad,” said Clare head coach Kyle McKay. “Our goal this year was, because we have Gladwin and Farwell in our district, we were hoping for our first district title. We lost our 135 and 140 pounder which is huge for us so that leaves two holes in the line-up where we have to void. Our goals right now are to get as many conference champions as we can and get as many guys as we can to the state meet, we’re hoping to get four or five to states this year.”
With two-time state qualifiers Logan Emery (160) and Brandon Ayris (171) leading the way the Pioneers do have some experienced wrestlers on the roster. Moreover with the way Hart Smalley (189) and Brenden Hensley (215) are going at it McKay might have a full van for the ride down to the Palace at Auburn Hills come late February.
“We’ve got six or seven good wrestlers and can pair up well against anyone in the conference, but those voids just kill us,” said Emery, who went 1-2 at the finals last year. “A lot of our wrestlers are in the same weight classes so that makes it tough. Personally I want to place in the top five because I think I’m there and good enough to do it. The last two years I was just a little too young and inexperienced.”
For Brandon Ayris, who was eighth at 171 pounds in D3 last spring, his goals are much the same as Emery’s.
“I’d like to place a lot higher this year and am looking forward to the chance to compete at the state meet,” he said.
In the current Michigan Grappler rankings Emery is ranked fifth at 160 pounds while Ayris is honorable mention at 171.
At Farwell first-year head coach Tyler Lentovich is in much the same boat in that he’s spotting opponents 24 points via the void.
“It’s difficult when you only got 10 guys on the team,” said Lentovich, a first-year art and history teacher at Farwell High School. “We just want to take as many guys as we can to the state finals because we don’t have the overall numbers to field a full team.”
Lentovich won a state title at 215 pounds during his senior year of high school at Shepherd and went to the team state finals three times under head coach Chris Snyder. Now he’s in his first year at Farwell and trying to build the program up.
“We want to get all our guys to .500 or better before the season ends and it’s tough with a really young squad,” he added.
As of now Zienkiewicz, who finished sixth at 160 in the finals last year, leads the team as he’s ranked fourth in the state at 171 pounds. Freshman Glenn Beardsley is also ranked fifth at 119.
Last Updated: 1/18/2014 4:49:12 PM EST