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November 27, 2012

Senior-laden Sterling Heights High wrestling team eyes state finals

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

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Senior-laden Sterling Heights High wrestling team eyes state finals
The Sterling Heights High wrestling team will look for a trip to the MHSAA state finals after falling in regionals the last two years. Pictured are Stallions grapplers Simon Gappe, left, and Huey Le.

Several Sterling Heights High wrestlers were members of the team when the Stallions fell to Roseville in a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 regional final last season.

Grapplers on the now senior-laden squad say they’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that doesn’t happen this season. The Stallions have lost in regionals each of the last two years.

“The guys still on the team know they don’t wanna feel that again,” senior 135/140-pound wrestler Jackson Solomon said. “We know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but we’re going to make sure we do all we can to get past (regionals).”

Solomon is one of 10 seniors who make up the core of the Sterling Heights High lineup, according to coach Shawn Murray. That includes Macomb Area Conference Blue Division individual champion Huey Le, who wrestles at 125 and 130 pounds, 130/135-pound grappler Drew Martin, who qualified for the MHSAA individual state finals last season, and Solomon, who won a MHSAA individual district title last year.

“We’ve got some younger guys who’ll fill in some holes, but this team is senior-heavy,” Murray said.

That senior-heavy squad features wrestlers who last year were a part of a team that won MAC Blue and D-1 district titles. The Stallions went 16-4, 6-1 in the MAC Blue. The two teams Sterling Heights shared the league title with — St. Clair Shores Lake Shore and Marysville — have switched divisions. Lake Shore is now in the Gold, and Marysville is in the White. The division title was the first for the Stallions since going back-to-back in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

“Guys know now we can’t just walk in a gym and get a win,” Solomon said. “Just because we’ve had some success doesn’t mean things will come easy for us.”

Murray believes Sterling Heights has the pieces to compete for another MAC Blue title. He said certain things have to fall into place for his team to accomplish that, though.

“Time will tell,” Murray said. “You have to stay healthy and be at your best — not just in winning the league title but in making a run at a state title, too.”

Martin said a state finals run is the goal this year.

“Getting to the state finals and finishing in the top eight is a big deal,” he said.

“A lot of us have been with the team since freshman year, so this season and doing well this year is a huge deal,” Solomon said.

The Stallions next hit the mat at 5 p.m. Dec. 6 at Grosse Pointe South for a quad meet.

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