Gary Brundirks finishing out career at Chippewa Valley
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — One gentle slap of the mat on the Chippewa Valley gymnasium floor by an official on Jan. 30 signaled a win by pin fall for Chippewa heavyweight Tyler Allison and the end of Chippewa coach Gary Brundirks’ last home meet of his 40-year career with the Big Reds.
Brundirks’ team earned a comprehensive 55-9 victory against L’Anse Creuse North to tally another win to his dual-meet career that has included more than 200 dual victories.
“For 40 years, I really enjoyed it, and I’m going to miss it. It’s probably something I would keep on doing, but there’s other things in my life I want to do before I’m not able to do them, so I want to make sure I perform those other tasks and goals,” Brundirks said following the meet.
Brundirks’ career has been littered with accolades through the last four decades. Under Brundirks, Chippewa has won six district titles, two regional championships and Chippewa’s only county championship in 2002.
“I am (going to miss it), but it’s like, where do you stop at? You can say one more year and one more year, but in reality, I was kind of thinking about stopping before. … It just got to the point where I’m ready to go now and enjoy it,” Brundirks said.
As it relates to this season, there is still work left to do for Brundirks and the Big Reds. Chippewa will open its district tournament on Feb. 5 against Fraser. Sterling Heights Stevenson and L’Anse Creuse will be in the same district.
Brundirks said that his team is young and has battled some injuries, but it will field a competitive lineup for the postseason.
“We still haven’t been able to get our best line all together at one time. It’s one thing or another, and we’re never going to get it this season where we would like,” Brundirks said. “We make due with what we have and do the best we can. Some other kids have stepped up due to injuries and other things.”
Brundirks said that his team is strongest from the 112 to 189 weight classes, and it’ll be able to win or be close in most of those matches.
One member of the team is Evan Lockemy, who moved to 41-2 on the season after winning against L’Anse Creuse North. The 140-pounder is a senior captain said he has high expectations for his coach’s last year.
“We want to make it to team states — that’s our goal. We have to beat Dakota. It’s going to be a hard goal, but we can do it if everyone is at the right weight,” Lockemy said. “We’re a young team, but we’ve been working hard every day in practice and we’re coming a long way”
Being selected as one of the captains for Brundirks’ final season was an outstanding honor, Lockemy said.
“It was awesome. … He’s been everything to me. He’s taught me almost everything I know about wrestling. He runs our meets and gets us matches. Without him, we wouldn’t be able to wrestle most of the matches we wrestle,” Lockemy said.
Chippewa made it to the regional finals last year, and Brundirks echoed his captain’s sentiment about finishing his career at the state finals.
“Our goal is to make it to the states at Battle Creek, and we’re going to do what we have to do,” Brundirks said. “Obviously, we would like to win a district and go and win regionals, but you have to have a goal, and that’s what you’re shooting for and that’s what we’re doing.”