By Sean Budlong
The Schoolcraft wrestling team finished the 2015-2016 season the way Head Coach Rob Ling planned all along. Ranked in the top 10 in Division Four all season, the Eagles’ final ranking was eighth— More importantly, Schoolcraft captured the team District Championship by beating White Pigeon (40-27) and Mendon (54-18). The following weekend, Schoolcraft beat a higher-ranked Bronson (36-26) before ending the team season with a loss to Decatur (36-26).
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” Ling said. “They started the year strong, but grew over the course of the season. We won the team District and three other tournaments.”
While Schoolcraft fell short of the Regional team title, the individual State Championships are still very much in play for the Eagles. Six different wrestlers were ranked in the top ten in the state all year, and all six of them advanced to state.
Spencer Fox, Zac Sharp, Ethan Sharp, Brandon Verwey, Justin Braford, and Cam Blalock all advanced for the opportunity to wrestle for a title. As a senior and the highest ranked Eagle, Verwey is excited and prepared for his last weekend of high school wrestling. As a junior, he fell short of the state tournament. This year, he is ranked second in the 189 weight class and shares leadership on the team with Zac Sharp, Braford, and Blalock.
“The rankings are only good for motivation and intimidation,” Verwey said. “I have to bring my best every match.”
Fox and both Sharps are repeat state qualifiers, but that hasn’t changed their goals and motivation. “We are ready for the challenge,” Ethan said. “We’re proud of what we’ve done so far, but our goals remain the same — we want to finish higher than we have before.”
Regardless of the outcome at the state tournament, Ling is grateful for the leadership this group has provided to his program. “Their leadership has been fantastic,” he said. “They taught the younger guys to work hard and take things seriously. At the same time, the younger guys like Austin Edwards and Travis Mikel pushed the upper classmen every day.”