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November 23, 2012

Roseville High wrestling team on quest for another state finals berth

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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The Roseville wrestling team will vie for its fourth straight trip to the MHSAA D-1 state finals this season. Pictured is Panthers grappler Luis Santana lifting teammate Christian Thursam.

ROSEVILLE — Roseville High’s wrestling program has been to the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 state finals three straight years, the last two under coach Davon Gray.

And Gray wants that to continue.

“I think we have a shot,” said Gray, who won individual state titles while wrestling for the Panthers in 1993 and 1994. “We’ve got a lot of guys back from last year who are pretty solid, and I think they all give us a chance to be special.”

Roseville returns 10 starters from last year’s squad, which was eliminated from the finals in the quarterfinal round. While last year’s group relied on a few exceptional grapplers to come up big in big spots, this year’s squad will rely on a team effort to excel.

The 2012-13 team features grapplers in several weight classes who could be standouts. That includes a group of seniors: 215-pounder Lamar Harris, 119-pound grappler Christian Thursam, 135-pounder Nick Rosario and 171-pound wrestler Paul Martin.

“Everybody’s on the same page. I think this group will be solid,” Gray said. “We have a lot of athletes and guys with a lot of strength. We’re going to learn what our strengths and weaknesses are over the course of the season, though, and we’ll be a better team for it, come (the postseason).”

The postseason has become the focus for the program. Roseville finished fourth in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division last season and was the lone team from the entire MAC to make it as far as the state quarterfinals. In 2010-11, Gray’s first year, the Panthers finished last in the Red and won district and regional titles.

Roseville moves into the MAC White this season. The Panthers went 13-16, 4-3 MAC Red in 2011-12.

“I think this program has evolved into one where winning division titles isn’t a huge goal,” Gray said. “Yeah, it’s a nice thing to have, but we focus more on larger goals and accomplishments. We’re out to win district and regional titles.

“We use the regular season and our divisional matchups to prepare us for the (postseason). That’s the approach we’re gonna take this year, and I think we’ll surprise some people.”

Roseville next hits the mat for a dual meet with Madison Heights Lamphere at 5 p.m. Dec. 5 at Lamphere.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.