South wrestling setting its goals

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published December 12, 2017

 Grosse Pointe South’s Walker Finazzo, left, battles against a Warren Cousino wrestler Dec. 7.

Grosse Pointe South’s Walker Finazzo, left, battles against a Warren Cousino wrestler Dec. 7.

Photo by Sean Work

GROSSE POINTES — For Grosse Pointe South wrestling coach Patrick Salazar, there’s more to the season than wins and losses.

“The most exciting part of the job is watching that process where everything clicks for a kid and he realizes that he is truly capable of competing at a higher level than (he) thought,” Salazar said. “That’s what really pumped me up when I was younger — tracking my progression over four years. … When you see a kid that wants to take it as far as they can take it, that’s what really excites me.”

At press time, he Blue Devils were 1-1 overall and hadn’t competed in a Macomb Area Conference Silver Division dual meet.

When it comes to the postseason, South is looking to win a district championship like it did in 2015. On the individual side, Salazar feels he has some grapplers with the talent to earn a spot in the state final like senior Patrick O’Meara, junior Miles Dearing and sophomore Mitchell Stricker.

So far, Dearing is enjoying the ride.

“Wrestling’s a great sport as far as camaraderie, team, enthusiasm, intensity,” he said. “It’s peaceful to me.”

Both O’Meara and Dearing have suited up for South’s football team. O’Meara discussed one of the primary differences between the two sports.

“In football, you have someone who, hopefully, can clean up your mess,” he said. “Out here in wrestling, it’s on you to fix your own problem. … I think it helps with your mentality, being able to figure out your problems and move forward.”

One of the biggest problems for some coaches is being unable to fill a full lineup and losing points to voids.

Salazar estimates there are 20 wrestlers on the squad.

“That makes it easier for us because in the past, we had to give up a match or two, sometimes four or five in the worst times,” Salazar said. “Now that we have this many kids, you can fill out the space way better; people have more practice partners. Hopefully it gets the momentum rolling in the school, (and) next year we’ll have more.”

An increase in numbers isn’t the only reason South fans can be excited about where the program is at.

“I’m a pretty optimistic guy, but I think even from a realistic standpoint, the team has become more competitive in the last five years,” Salazar said. “The group of talent that’s emerged from that has been pretty good. There’s been state qualifiers from South for the last two years.”