CLAWSON — In the last four years, coach Keil Jorgensen has witnessed, and been part of, the Clawson High wrestling program’s resurgence.
“It’s completely night and day from when I started. The seniors I have now were as green as green can be. They didn’t have much of an identity for themselves on the mat. It’s all changed now,” Jorgensen said. “For these guys to have started wrestling in high school and for as far as they’ve come, it’s amazing.”
In Jorgensen’s four seasons, he’s taken a program that was often canceled because of lack of numbers and turned it into two-time district champions. The Trojans also won a Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division title two seasons ago and finished second last year.
Even with a roster with just a handful of wrestlers when he first took the job — before beginning a rigorous recruiting regiment within the school to fill the ranks — Jorgensen said he never doubted that the program would become competitive.
“Clawson has a good legacy of wrestling. It used to be very tough, but lost its identity through the way, but we’re kind of bringing it back now,” he said. “We have a lot of respect in the area and within the school.”
The Trojans now boast a full lineup, with more than 20 grapplers.
Senior Rob MacCallum, who was on the team Jorgensen’s first year, added that, along with the coaching, the camaraderie amongst the wrestlers has improved them.
“It’s a great feeling out there when you have at least 20 guys on your side,” he said. “When you feel like you have a family inside this room, it makes it a lot easier to do things. It makes it a lot easier to even show up.”
Much like the program, MacCallum said he’s transformed from being a part of the team.
“It seriously is incredibly life changing,” he said. “You do things you never thought you could do. It just opens that door to your mind and makes you that much stronger.”
This season, Clawson has been moved to the MAC Gold and is 17-6 overall and 2-2 in the league.
Jorgensen said his team is enjoying the challenge of taking on tougher opponents.
“We have to adapt to it, bottom line. If we sit around and say, ‘Oh, we’re up two divisions, and that’s a victory in itself,’ we’re going to lose every single match,” he said.
Though Jorgensen added that the tougher schedule will prepare them better for the postseason.
“I will sacrifice losses to better teams to prepare us for the postseason; it’s not even a question,” he said. “Records aren’t the success of wrestling. We have to peak at the right time, right about now, and I think we’re doing that.”
Clawson has won a district title the past two seasons and a regional semifinal match each time before falling in the regional final.
“For me, I don’t want this season to stop,” MacCallum said. “I want to push as hard as we can and go as far as we can. Maybe it’s just regionals or maybe it’s even states, if we’re good enough.”