The Troy High wrestling team poses with the Division 1 district championship trophy Feb. 7 following a 39-31 victory over Utica Eisenhower. The Colts advanced to the regional round for the first time since 2013.

The Troy High wrestling team poses with the Division 1 district championship trophy Feb. 7 following a 39-31 victory over Utica Eisenhower. The Colts advanced to the regional round for the first time since 2013.

Photo by Timothy Pontzer


With Harlan back in charge, Troy High wrestling wins first district title since 2013

By: Timothy Pontzer | Troy Times | Published February 13, 2018

 Troy senior Alex Vecchioni grapples with an opponent from Eisenhower during the team district final. Vecchioni also advanced out of the individual district Feb. 10, joined by teammates Deontre Maddox and Michael Castiglione.

Troy senior Alex Vecchioni grapples with an opponent from Eisenhower during the team district final. Vecchioni also advanced out of the individual district Feb. 10, joined by teammates Deontre Maddox and Michael Castiglione.

Photo by Donna Dalziel

TROY — While the echoes of a band concert in Troy High’s main gymnasium could be clearly heard, the Colts wrestling team composed a winning soundtrack in the adjacent auxiliary gym.

Troy secured the program’s first district title since 2013. The Colts went on to face Lake Orion High Feb. 14 in a regional semifinal after press time.

A back-and-forth battle decided the victory of the Division 1 district grouping, as the Colts met Utica Eisenhower in the championship match. The Colts came back from a 19-12 deficit, securing five total pins in a contest that saw five lead changes.

“It was a great match; in fact it was too entertaining, a bit too close for my liking,” Troy coach Gary Harlan said with a laugh. “If any of those matches go the other way or we just get a decision instead of a pin in some spots, that’s a big swing in points. There were about eight swings in this game.”

Harlan guided the Troy wrestling program from 1980 until 2013. Jon Thomas and Joe Wood each had spells as coach after that until Wood left for his alma mater, Clarkston High, right before the start of the 2017-18 campaign.

“These are always fun, and we’ve been very fortunate to win the district several times in the past,” Harlan said. “I expect every season to be great, and it was no different this year. (Wood) didn’t get that job until late, and he had to take it. He’s a great guy, and it’s really good for him. It probably would’ve been best for this team had he been able to stay, but you can’t blame him for leaving.”

Harlan reluctantly agreed to take back over, but he pointed to title-winning moments as a great reason to return.

“I didn’t take the job right away; I thought a lot about it,” Harlan explained. “I talked to some of the kids, and we spoke about everything but wrestling. I could tell this group is an energetic group that works really hard. The coaching is great, but it’s all the other stuff you have to deal with. But this is a great moment for all of them, and I’m really glad to be part of it.”

The longtime wrestling coach was thrilled with the victory, calling the team format one of his favorite aspects of the sport.

“The big thing for me is that obviously wrestling is an individual sport, but the individual things is only half of it in these team competitions,” Harlan explained. “There are some guys that lost their matches tonight that still got a district championship medal. Everybody contributed, and that’s what’s neat about wrestling. Some guys did enough by not getting pinned, getting decisions or helping take others on.”

A turning point in the match occurred in the heavyweight bout. With Ike leading 19-15, sophomore Kyrollos Awad secured a pin in the 285-pound battle. Awad was down 2-0 late in the fight, but used a reversal to tie it at 2-2 with less than 40 seconds remaining.

The bout went into double overtime, where Awad earned six points via a pin with exactly one second left on the clock.

“We were both going at it, and I was struggling,” Awad explained. “It’s the first time I’ve ever gone to double OT. As it went on, I realized he was as tired as me, so I went for it. I put as much strength and weight as possible to flip him on his back, and the next thing I knew it was a pin. That’s one of my best matches ever. It was a really amazing feeling, and I’m just glad I was able to give us a chance to get back in it.”

Harlan praised the performance, calling it a nine-point swing.

“That was huge. It looked like they had three points there, but he got back in it and then got those bonus points with the pin,” Harlan said. “He’s only a (sophomore), a second-year wrestler who’s doing really well. He hasn’t had as many matches as we’d like because another kid was going at heavyweight the first part of the year, but he really stepped up tonight.”

Freshman Evan Zagacki continued the momentum as he secured a Troy pin at 103. Another six-pointer put Troy up 33-19 before Ike rallied with a pair of pins at 119 and 125. With the scoreboard reading 33-31, Troy senior Joey Mason notched a pin at 130 to secure the victory.

“It’s a really cool moment to have as a senior,” said Mason, who is a four-year varsity grappler. “I was watching the whole time and trying to do the math to see if it would come down to me. It did, and I was ready. It was sweet, but it wouldn’t have been possible without some of the pins we had earlier. It was a good team effort.”