As the annual Oakland County wrestling tournament approaches, Troy wrestling coach Jon Thomas is in the same arena as his fellow coaches, developing his wrestlers and pressing the team concept. But it wasn’t too long ago that Thomas was on the mats himself, trying to squeeze out his victories for the Colts.
One of those wins came in the 125-pound finals at the Oakland County meet in 2005 as he joined the roster of county champs. “That was definitely a great win, probably the favorite medal that I had,” said Thomas. “It’s one of the biggest tournaments around, very competitive, very tough ... I take a lot of pride in winning.”
So do others who’ve reached the top at the 54th annual tournament, which began in 1960. At least eight wrestlers who won county titles last year return, including Novi Detroit Catholic Central’s Evan Toth, who has won three county championships. Only three wrestlers — Pontiac Northern’s Tyrone Logan (1985-88), Holly’s Josh Houldsworth (2006-09) and Novi Detroit Catholic Central’s Alec Mooradian (2008-11) — have won four county titles.
Toth delivered the clutch victory in the final match in the Shamrocks’ Division 1 state championship match against Davison last season. While he’s struggled in individual state competition, he’s been solid in Oakland County.
Other returning champs include Ortonville Brandon’s Bryan LaVearn, Stoney Creek’s Andrew Price and Kyle Noonan, Brother Rice’s Shon Powell, Catholic Central’s Drew Garcia and Trevor Zdebski and Rochester’s Shwan Shadaia. Garcia and Shadaia are also returning state champions.
Catholic Central is seeking its fifth straight Oakland County title and, with three returning champions, are a solid contender. But five straight titles isn’t the most for any school competing at the tournament. Two teams, Clarkston and Hazel Park, have won six straight titles. Hazel Park won from 1981-84 under Bob Morrill, and from 1985-86 under Frank Stagg. Clarkston won from 2001-02 under Mike DeGain and from 2003-06 under Joe DeGain.
Friday’s first round of action gets started at Southfield High School and Oxford Middle Schools. The finals are scheduled Saturday at Oxford Middle School.