ROYAL OAK — The Royal Oak High wrestling team had holes in its lineup this season.
At times, the Ravens were forced to void as many as five weight classes, a 30-point differential, basically forcing the squad to be perfect in the rest of its matches to have a shot at a win.
Royal Oak started 0-8 on the season, but by the time it was all over, it became a team that enjoyed beating the odds as much as its opponents, highlighted by a winning a district title.
“I think it was perseverance. We’ve had a few openings in our lineup all season long that we weren’t able to fill … our guys were willing to work hard and keep going regardless of knowing that we had some holes,” coach Scott Welborn said. “They knew that if they did their job, we could win matches. Once we figured that out halfway through the season, we did win matches.”
The Ravens finished 8-17 overall and with their first Division 1 district championship since 2007.
“It shows how hard we’re all working and getting the pins that we need and not getting pinned,” senior Tyler McCullough said.
Royal Oak’s season came to a close after falling to regional champ Roseville High 50-19 in the semifinals Feb. 15.
“We didn’t get a few matches to go our way that we needed to go our way,” Welborn said. “They were all close, so if they go our direction, we had a shot at that much. That’s how wrestling goes sometimes. We scrapped and went after it, we just came up short.”
In the district, Royal Oak beat Birmingham Groves in a semifinal 52-24 and then Berkley High 42-27 in the final Feb. 9 at Groves.
Welborn took over the program four years ago and said he was especially happy for seniors McCullough, Joe Ledford and Dan Dobras, who have been on varsity all four years.
McCullough is also an individual district champion and went over 100 wins for his career.
“It’s nice to be able to see them enjoy the moment and know that the hard work paid off,” Welborn said. “I think it’s a great way for the other kids to look at it, ‘if I stick with it for four years, I have a good shot to really do something.’”
Call Sports Writer Christian Davis at (586) 498-1062.