MU Wrestlers Hope for Regional Success

Alex Baker

On Feb. 15, the Manchester wrestling team competed at the Mid-States Invitational in Crawfordsville, IN, placing tenth. Notable performances came from first year Devontay Moore, who finished in sixth place, first year James Corgan, who finished in seventh place, and sophomore Shane Stits, who finished in eighth place. All three wrestled in their respective weight classes: Moore and Stits at 184 pounds and Corgan at 125 pounds.

Kevin Lake, fifth-year head coach of the wrestling team, notes that even though his wrestlers have faced some hardship throughout the season his focus is still on what’s ahead. “It has been a challenging year on several fronts,” Lake said. “Injuries are always a battle and this year seems to have especially so. “We are getting healthy now and preparing for that final push.” Joel Arney, sophomore wrestler, was one of the athletes to pick up an injury. The Fort Wayne native had a good first-year campaign and was eager to perform even better this year. “The season was going great for me individually,” Arney said. I” had some big wins and was getting ready for regionals. I was wanting to make a push for nationals, but I ended up getting hurt which sadly put an end to my season.”

From a player’s perspective, Arney sees another large issue that the team has encountered. “The difficulties that our team has had to face this year are constantly having a different lineup in,” Arney said. “We have only had one weekend where we had our full lineup in and ended up going 3-0 as a team. This has been a struggle because my teammates have had to make sacrifices and wrestle in weight classes that they are not used to.”

Arney is the definition of a student-athlete: he wants to succeed on the mat and in the classroom. “My goals for the year were to qualify for nationals and to be an academic All-American,” Arney said. “Since I am injured and out for the year, I will not be able to qualify for nationals, but I was able to become an academic All-American.” This is the second time that Arney has been recognized as an academic All-American.

One of the best moments of the season so far was when the team defeated Trine University’s wrestling team. “A highlight of the season was watching us beat Trine,” Arney said. “We had several guys out and it was awesome watching the different guys step up in the moment and help us get the dual win.” A dual win is when the wrestler wins the match, not only does he gain points for himself, but he gains points for his team too. Arney has been a huge supporter for his teammates, despite his injury.

In January, the team tested itself by taking a trip to New York to see how they would fare against the top-tier teams in Division III wrestling. They played three top-ten ranked teams: #6 Johnson & Wales, #9 New York University, and #24 Stevens. “We really got to test ourselves by facing some of the best teams in the nation” Arney said. “It was interesting to view some of the East Coast teams’ style of wrestling.”

Coach Lake was thankful for the challenge, as it was a benchmark to see where the program stands. “It was a great chance to see some of the best teams in the nation to know what it takes to compete at the highest level,” Lake said. “The East Coast trip was very good, and our team learned a lot from the experience”.

The opportunity that Coach Lake is looking forward to the most is the Regional Championship at Adrian College. This is where all the hard work from the season is showcased. “Our team’s goal from the beginning of the season has been to perform at our best at the Regional Championship,” Lake said. “We want to put individuals in a position to become All-Americans and national champions.”

Until then, the team will be focusing on what they need to do mentally and physically to get them prepared for battle on Feb. 28.