Troy High, Troy Athens wrap up wrestling campaigns

By: Timothy Pontzer | Troy Times | Published February 9, 2017

UTICA — Troy High and Troy Athens saw their wrestling seasons end on Feb. 9, with each side falling in the district round at Utica High.

Athens fell to Utica Eisenhower 50-17 for the title. It was the Eagles' third straight district crown. The Red Hawks topped the host Chieftains 43-31 in the opening round

"We're really young, we only have one senior on the team," said Athens coach Matt Rawlik. "But I encouraged them, telling them I was happy with how they competed, wrestling against a really, really good team. It wasn't close, definitely a convincing win for Eisenhower, and hats off to them, but I was proud that we put our best effort out there."

Rawlik cited his club's youth as a reason for early growing pains this year, but was pleased with the growth he saw from the team.

"Overall, this season has been very encouraging," Rawlik said. "We really struggled at the start of the season, but then they battled back each week until we took second in the league last week, which was not expected. We've grown tremendously throughout the year, and that bodes really well for the future."

The Red Hawks placed second in the Oakland Activites Association Blue Division, something Rawlik called a building block for the program. He singled out Andrew Yan (189 pounds) and Owen Westbrook (150) as two grapplers to watch in the individual tournaments.

Crosstown rival Troy High joined Athens at the event, with the Colts falling to Ike 51-21 in the first round.

"It's really bittersweet," said Troy coach Joe Wood. "We had a plan where we thought we could come out and compete and have a chance at winning the whole match. It's a little frustrating, but we lost three matches by three points or less. The score was not indicative of how close the match was."

In his first year at the helm of the program, Wood was pleased with the overall progress he saw in his inaugural campaign.

"Since it's my first year, I can't be too disappointed especially because we are truly changing the culture here," Wood said. "A lot of positive things happened this season, and after the match I talked to them about how important it is to make these strides forward. Wrestling is a sport where you can compete year round, and everybody has bought in, willing to put in a lot of hard work so we can win this match next year."