FRASER — With an overall record of 15-1 and a 4-1 mark in the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division at press time, there were many reasons for the Fraser High wrestling team to be pleased with its season so far.
Although winning has certainly helped keep the mood light, Fraser’s captains have been working since the beginning of the year to bring a positive attitude while leading the Ramblers this year.
“We try to praise the kids more now. Every time a kid wins, we praise him, and even when they lose, we still praise him for what he did right and not what he did wrong,” captain Jon Hill said. “This year, we play games at the end of practice. We all work out together and stay together as a team. We’re all friends.”
Fraser coach Rick Julien agreed that not only has winning led to making practice more fun, but those fun practices have also led to an increase in confidence.
“They come to practice — they work hard; they’re a fun group to be around. It’s hard to make wrestling practice fun, but we’ve been doing the best we can with hard work and trying to get a smile and stay loose. It’s always a lot more fun when you win,” Julien said.
The coach added that Hill, who is 22-7 overall, started the year a little sluggish but quickly bounced back.
“He just started the season a little slow and lost a little bit of confidence, but then he went to the county tournament and took fourth, and he’s been on a tear ever since,” Julien said.
Other key contributors on the team have been Jim Shock at heavyweight, John Wiseman at 145 pounds, Marcus Bowers at 215, Dean Schnider at 189 and Nick Hollifield at 119.
“A lot of the kids have been around four years, but they never wrestled before high school, and that makes it really difficult to compete with the big boys. But we’re doing a nice job right now,” Julien said.
Julien also pointed out a sophomore who wrestles at 103 who continues to improve.
“Nate Hollifield at 103, this is the first year that he’s actually gotten up to 100 pounds. He’s a sophomore, and he won 30 matches last year while weighing 82 pounds,” Julien said. “He’s done an excellent job, and now he weighs anywhere from 94-100 pounds. He’s a strong guy. It’s nice to watch him compete.”
In addition to maintaining a light-hearted environment, Julien has also worked to ensure that his wrestlers will be able to outlast opponents.
“One thing that I can say about this team conditioning-wise, they are in very good shape. We haven’t had too many matches where we’ve been outlasted. The kids really worked hard in the offseason and in the weight room, and I’ve been happy with the success,” Julien said.
Matt Keys wrestles at 145 and is another captain of this year’s team. Keys is hopeful that staying positive will help the Ramblers reach their goal of a league title and beyond.
“We’ve tried to do a good job with trying to get kids to work hard. If they like the sport, they’ll do a lot better, so we stay positive and not bring anyone down,” Keys said. “This year, we wanted to make sure to have positive leadership, and that will hopefully take us to the league championship.”
Results of a divisional meet with St. Clair were not available at press time, but Fraser will host Grosse Pointe North on Jan. 29.