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Freeman to wrap up prolific career at state tourney WITH PHOTO GALLERY

  • Ben Freeman of Walled Lake Central is accustomed to getting his hand raised in victory. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Ben Freeman is once again in control of the situation. (Special to MIPrepZone / LARRY McKEE)
  • Ben Freeman (right) of Walled Lake Central competes in the KLAA tournament last season. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Nick Onwenu (right) of Walled Lake Central is one of about a half-dozen state qualifiers for the Vikings. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Walled Lake Central coach Al Freeman (right) is at the state tournament. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • A younger Ben Freeman competes during his freshman season. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Walled Lake Central's Josh Jernigan is joining his Vikings teammates at the state tournament. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Coaches Al Freeman (right) and Charles Sovel are on the sidelines. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Ben Freeman was a winner at the Palace of Auburn Hills. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Ben Freeman notched a victory at the KLAA tournament. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Walled Lake Central's wrestilng room was busy preparing wrestlers for the state tournament. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • In his younger days, Ben Freeman of Walled Lake Central was still devastating. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Walled Lake Central's Ben Freeman checks the time during a match. (MIPrepZone file photo).
  • Wrestlers tighten up their moves during a practice session. (MIPrepZone file photo).

Walled Lake Central senior takes aim at fourth state title

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A lot of eyes will be focused on Walled Lake Central’s Ben Freeman at the state wrestling championships beginning Thursday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Freeman has already made three trips to the Palace, and come away with three state titles. His tally so far is 159 career victories and only one loss during his freshman year when he had to forfeit because of an injury.

Otherwise, no one has beaten him on the mats during his high school career.

But if the University of Michigan-bound senior had his preferences, he’d just carry on without the fanfare and the attention he’s drawn as one of the most prolific high school wrestlers the state has ever produced.

Pressure for title No. 4? Don’t mention it.

“It’s cool,” said Freeman of the prospects of winning another state title, “ but I don’t want to think about it. I just want to enjoy the end of high school.”

That means embracing the high school experience and the ups and downs that make it complete. It’s been super fun according to Freeman. “I still get to do fun stuff … like football games, dances and hanging out with my friends,” said Freeman, who also makes time for his studies. Math is his area of expertise with other mind-numbing courses on his slate, which can be a challenge with the rigors of wrestling testing his organizational skills. “I don’t have a lot of time to waste (so) I think I’ve got it down pretty good after four years,” he smiled.

His favorite subject is AP Statistics, where the theory of probability can be applied to his chances of winning four straight state titles.

But he’s not biting. Leave the probability for others to figure out. He just wants to wrestle.

Freeman has been wrestling nearly all of his life. His dad, Walled Lake Central head coach Al Freeman, was an All-American wrestler at the University of Nebraska. Ben and brothers Nick and Sam, both members of the Walled Lake Central team, all took to the sport with ease. Ben endured some early setbacks which made him more determined. “As a youngster, he lost some close matches (and) he hated to lose,” said Al Freeman. “(But) he’s always been easy to watch, almost every time I’ve ever watched him.”

Indeed, Ben Freeman is a technician with a plan that unfolds against every opponent. Once he grabs a wrist or an ankle, a gallery of options appear in his mind, depending on how his opponent reacts. Most often, the end results is a pin or a technical fall in his favor.

That is, except for his regional final, where he won by major decision over Fraser’s Jalen Smith, whose length gave Freeman problems as frustration set in. “I got to work on keeping my cool, first time I didn’t pin or tech an opponent this year,” he said.

Afterward, they smiled and joked on the awards stand, a just conclusion after the heat of battle. “We’re (both) trying to win and get better … you can’t be mean to everyone,” he said.

For the most part, things have gone Freeman’s way in wrestling.

But there was a shocker even before his senior season started when he broke his right ankle. He was out for several weeks, and missed the Oakland County tournament. “I went from wrestling well to not even walking,” said Freeman. “I never had a serious injury like that.”

Now he’s back on track as the season winds down. Of the 21 wrestlers who’ve won four state titles, only three are from Division 1 - Davison’s Lincoln Olson (2012-15) and Brent Metcalf (2002-05), and Rockford’s Kyle Waldo (2006-09).

While Freeman could join them, he’s disregarding the pressure factor. “It’s something you make yourself,” said Freeman, who’ll be joined by a number of teammates in state competition while dad coaches them all.

To be sure, dad has played a big part in his development, and Ben is thankful. “He’s pretty much made me who I am,” said Ben Freeman.

And dad appreciates what he’s seeing, regardless this weekend of the outcome.

“Win, lose or draw, he’s just a joy to watch,” Al Freeman said.

Last Updated: 3/1/2017 8:02:09 PM EST

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