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February 20, 2012

Madison Heights Bishop Foley wrestlers’ ride comes to an end

By Christian Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
The Madison Heights Bishop Foley wrestling team gathers at one of the final practices of the season.

MADISON HEIGHTS — Entering Madison Heights Bishop Foley as freshmen, Mackenzie Kaiser and Nicole Murley never dreamed they’d be veteran wrestlers by time their senior year came along.

Yet, after joining the wrestling team in their sophomore year, there they were Feb. 14, practicing for one of the final times as three-year members of the team.

“They’re tough, there’s just no other way to put it,” coach Berney Gonzales said. “To go through the training a wrestler has to go through for four months of the year, if you can make it, it’s remarkable.

“They train just as hard as the boys do, and we’re very proud of them. On the team, they’re just wrestlers. We’re not boys; we’re not girls — we’re wrestlers.”

Kaiser originally came to the idea of wrestling after watching her older brother, Mason, place eighth in the state for Ventures in 2009.

From there, she asked her friends if they were interested in joining her, and Murley answered the call.

‘While admitting the sport is not for the faint of heart, both said they have no regrets.

“I would do it 20 times over,” Kaiser said. “I wish I would have joined freshmen year, even before freshmen year. The program is incredible.

“You definitely learn your limit, and it’s that you don’t have one,” the Clawson resident continued. “You can go and go and go, and get beat up and keep going. You just keep fighting, and it teaches you to never stop.”
Murley, a Berkley resident, said being on the team has also reinforced important values.

“I know Coach (Eric) Swanson and Coach Gonzales teach us to be good people and athletes at the same time. This year, especially, they really helped me realize that with everything I do, it doesn’t matter what the result is, it just matters what my attitude is about it and how I perceive everything around me,” she said. “I can either go in thinking, ‘Gosh, I’m going to lose and get beat up,’ or I can go in thinking, ‘I get to wrestle today. That’s awesome.’”

Pippin and Durbrow qualify for regionals
Kaiser and Murley were at practice with the rest of the squad in support of seniors Brenton Pippin and Bryan Durbrow, who qualified for a Division 4 individual regional Feb. 18, which took place after press time.

Pippin, a Royal Oak resident, is a district champion at 189 pounds, and Durbrow placed third at 125 to qualify. It’s the third time the grapplers have advanced to the regional level.

“That was really special,” Pippin said of the district title. “I was seeded No. 3, and people don’t expect you to do that well. I did what I normally do. I didn’t change a thing for anyone, and it worked. The coaches have taught me well.”

Gonzales said he was proud to see the pair moving on.

“You seriously have to step it up a notch, and if you don’t, if you have a bad day, then it’s a sad day,” Gonzales said. “Both Brenton and Bryan, along with their teammates, just stepped it up and brought it.”

See next week’s papers for regional wrestling results.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Christian Davis at cdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1062. Twitter Follow Christian on Twitter.