To West Bloomfield High wrestling coach Greg Alessi, there’s not much of a secret to being a successful grappler.
“To be good at this sport, you have to be physically exceptional and you have to really work at it,” he said. “What good programs have are successful kids, then the other kids say, ‘I want to be like him.’ Then those kids in the room make everyone else better around them. That’s why it’s no surprise that our three best kids all weigh around the same. They work together every day.”
Alessi’s best are juniors Ross Bahro and Mario Giglio, and sophomore Matt Gudenau.
Coming off an eighth-place finish at last season’s Division 1 state final, Bahro was 29-1 at press time at 125 pounds. His only loss came at the Oakland County Tournament, where he finished second.
“Ross is a motorboat that doesn’t stop. He’s physical, and he doesn’t stop moving,” Alessi said.
Gudenau was 25-3 overall at 130 pounds.
“Matt is more of an intellectual wrestler, where he slows the match down,” Alessi said. “He thinks about things, and he’s very deliberate. He has a lot of 3-2, 5-2 matches, where Ross has pins or a lot of (technical falls).”
Giglio was 18-6 at 135 pounds at press time and had placed eighth at the Oakland County Tournament.
“Mario is probably a mix of Ross and Matt. He’s a little more physical than Gudenau, but his motor doesn’t run as much as Ross’. The three have contrasting styles, and they’re still developing. They’re still figuring out what’s best for them,” the coach said.
Alessi believes that Bahro can go even further in the state tournament than he did last season, and that Giglio and Gudenau are strong enough to qualify for the state finals for the first time.
“Every single one of them put in the extra time, and it’s paying off. Those are our guys, and hopefully, they’ll have a nice little run when we get to the postseason,” Alessi said. “It’s tough to do. You have to wrestle a lot of good teams to get there. A lot of it is good fortune and wrestling well at the right time. Sometimes, you have to go there once just to appreciate it, because it can be overwhelming.”
Bahro said he’s not surprised by his success and his teammates’ because they push each other every day at practice, and like Alessi said, all good wrestlers do put in the work.
“We push each other really hard. If one of us is slacking, we don’t let that happen,” Bahro said.
The trio pushed each other in the offseason, as well.
“It’s almost like getting a whole other season in before the real season. You grow as a wrestler and pick up things,” Bahro said. “A lot of times during the season, you’re worried about making weight almost instead of improving. So in the summer, it’s a lot less stressful, and you can figure out what you’re good at doing.”
As a team, the Lakers were 8-10 overall and 1-2 in the Oakland Activities Association White Division. The coach said much of the struggles have come from a lack of depth.
Bahro said he sees a bright future for the Lakers.
“We’re growing as a team, a lot. I think we’ll be pretty solid next year. We have a lot of juniors, and I think we’ll be a force to be reckoned with,” he said. “Right now, I think a lot of wrestlers are still finding their groove.”