Fraser wrestling looks to build strong program

By: Mark Vest | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published December 12, 2012

 Fraser wrestlers Matt Mainhardt, left, and Kyle Herron, right, spar during a recent practice session. They join James Darling and Zach Herron as team captains.

Fraser wrestlers Matt Mainhardt, left, and Kyle Herron, right, spar during a recent practice session. They join James Darling and Zach Herron as team captains.

Photos by Sean Work

Fraser coach Rick Julien is looking to make some new history for the wrestling program.

According to Julien, the last time Fraser won a league title was 2001, and he believes pieces are falling into place that could help change that.

A significant reason for Julien’s optimism is the “feeder program” that has begun at Mark Twain Elementary School, whereby students who may one day wrestle for Fraser receive some early training in the sport. According to Julien, schools like Anchor Bay, Macomb Dakota and Chippewa Valley already have such programs in place, which has helped attribute to some of the success they have enjoyed.

“Once we get this feeder program running, I’m pretty sure we’re going to be right there with everybody,” he said. “This is its second year. The kids are very young, of course — a lot of kids in third or fourth grade, but that’s how it starts. To compete nowadays with the big boys, you have to have a feeder program.”

A roster that includes approximately 30 freshmen and sophomores, along with the help he is getting from his son, Kevin, who is the team’s assistant coach, are more reasons Julien feels good about the direction the program is heading in.

“The sophomore class is fantastic,” he said. “Give me a couple years, and I’ll have a pretty tough team with all these freshmen and sophomores.”

The Ramblers have six seniors on the roster, including captains Kyle Herron, Matt Mainhardt, James Darling and Zach Herron. Julien believes they can play a big role in helping to lead Fraser into the future.

“Got some good seniors that are going to lead us,” he said. “I like them to lead by example. Get out there and show the young guys what the sport’s all about. Do the hard work.”

Although Julien is confident in the long-term success of Fraser wrestling, he is also mindful of the task at hand. And while he understands it won’t be a cakewalk, he is hopeful that the Ramblers can take a shot at a Macomb Area Conference Gold Division title.

“I think that it’s a possibility,” he said. “There’s some really good teams. St. Clair is a very strong team; they’ve got quite a few wrestlers. And you’ve got Clawson, who’s going to be tough. (Warren) Mott has always got a decent program going on. They got a nice little feeder program. (Warren) Cousino’s always got a lot of kids to deal with. Grosse Pointe North, I’ve got to deal with them because my son, Eric, coaches Grosse Pointe. (St. Clair Shores) Lake Shore’s a solid team.

“I would have to favor St. Clair, Lake Shore and Clawson,” Julien continued. “And put us right in that group, also.”

Julien believes that, if the Ramblers can put together a successful season, it could have a “snowball effect,” which could help make the program one to be reckoned with for years to come.

“I really see things trending upward,” he said. “We’re getting good support from the athletic department, and we’re going from there. Once you capture one (league title), the goal is to keep going — it’s called get the ball rolling. When you start winning, kids start coming out.

“Football and wrestling go together, so if we can start winning in wrestling, I’m sure that will pass over, because we got an excellent football coach in Pat Threet. Between us and Marshall (Wandrei), the (boys) basketball coach, I think we can get it all going. I think we’re going to have some pretty successful seasons.”