Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 10, 2017

Nine Varsity Wrestlers Return; Season Looks Promising

Wayne Smith 

The Spartan wrestlers are hoping to continue their improvement in the grueling winter sport, as the program is returning nine lettermen from last season. Coach Kevin Lake said even with all of the experience returning to the team, there could be, as he says, "two-to-three first years starting for us.”

Lake is hoping to use their experience to their advantage this season. “It will create some good competition with the young guys,” he said. The competition factor is particularly important, as the season spans from November through late February.

Heavyweight senior wrestler Nick Joyner is returning to the program after taking a year off. “I really like where this program is heading,” he said. “There is a lot of talent and determination in this group that will help us become a better program.” 

The spotlight will be shining on senior Alex Wilson this season, as he returns for his senior campaign after earning 30 wins in his previous season. “He is the heart and soul of this team,” Lake said. The 145-pounder is coming into the season having received some individual votes for a national ranking at that weight class. 

To start the season, the Spartans traveled to Michigan State University for the Michigan State Open that involved multiple division I and II wrestlers from across the country. In the event, there were three Spartan wrestlers who pulled out a victory, as first-year 125-pounder Josh Stephenson won in decision, as did sophomore 149-pounder JaVon Phillips and senior 197-pounder Alex Roberts. The wrestlers all won their first matches, but then suffered back-to-back losses to knock them out of the tournament.

Joyner did not participate in the meet, but he said: “These meets are always great for us to see how much we can improve and learn from. We have a long season ahead of us, so it is important that we take these matches as a learning experience to better prepare us for the future.”
He also hinted at the importance of this meet for the younger wrestlers, because the Michigan State Open has a freshman/sophomore bracket with all of the weight classes included. “This is a great ‘first meet’ experience for the young guys, especially because they can go against guys that are generally the same age as them,” Joyner said.

Lake’s wrestling squad resumes action this weekend, with a Friday dual against in-state rival Wabash College at 7 p.m., followed by a road trip to Trine University the next day, for the Thunder Invitational at 9 a.m.