Troy Athens senior Andrew Yan grapples with an opponent during a match last season. At press time, Yan had recorded 114 victories during four seasons on the varsity roster.

Troy Athens senior Andrew Yan grapples with an opponent during a match last season. At press time, Yan had recorded 114 victories during four seasons on the varsity roster.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Athens wrestler aims for state title to cap off career

By: Timothy Pontzer | Troy Times | Published January 23, 2018


TROY — Andrew Yan topped the century mark.

A standout on the gridiron, mat and pitch, Yan considers his proudest athletic achievement to be his career-victory total in wrestling. At press time, the Troy Athens senior had piled up 114 wins over four years on varsity, with his sights set on several more this season.

“I’m very proud of going over the 100-win marker,” Yan said before a Jan. 16 practice. “It shows how much work and effort the coaching staff has put into me, and how much I’ve put into this sport and the dedication I have for it. It definitely represents my favorite accomplishment.”

Yan collected his 100th success Dec. 15 while competing in the Oakland County Championships. In the prestigious event, he placed third in his 189-pound weight class in what he hopes is an early indication of how his senior year will play out.

“I have a lot of confidence this year; I’m feeling really good,” Yan said. “My goal is definitely to make it to states and place at least in the top five. My ultimate goal is the state championship. I’m going to work hard to be the best when I get that opportunity.”

Yan posted a 46-6 overall record last season, earning a trip to the individual finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills. While he didn’t place at The Palace, Yan has used that as motivation this year and was 21-5 overall at press time.

“This year, we’re looking to keep his momentum going and this time place at states,” said Athens wrestling coach Robby Keyes. “I watched him really improve from his sophomore to junior year, and now he’s a force. He’s also the nicest kid on the team, always very respectful. He helps to get the team going, and he’s a great asset in meets.”

Now in his second season as a team captain, Yan relishes his leadership role. It’s a position he is comfortable with after serving in the same capacity on the football team, where he stood out at defensive end.

“I think being a captain is very important,” Yan said. “Being a leader is something I like. I hope to motivate my teammates and show that if you put in the work, you can achieve whatever you’re going for. When I leave, I hope they’ll remember me for how hard I worked.”

How he will be remembered is something Yan has pondered frequently lately as he finishes off a long, accomplished prep career.

“I want to leave a legacy that’s used as an example for future wrestlers,” Yan said. “If I can make All-State, I’ll be put in the hallway. When I walk in the hallways here, I always look up and see old-school wrestlers, and I think to myself that I want to be up on that wall too.”

Yan enjoys a great relationship with Keyes and the rest of his staff. Only 19, Keyes is in his first year at the helm of Athens after serving as an assistant last year and graduating from the school in 2016.

“The coaching staff is amazing, and even though we have a really young staff, I’m really comfortable with them,” Yan explained. “I was a drilling partner with (Keyes) two years ago. We have an amazing bond because Robby was my teammate, classmate, and I consider him a friend. The whole staff is great and has helped shape me into the wrestler I am today.”

Keyes appreciates his former teammate stepping up and taking charge at practices and meets.

“He always gets practice going on time, which can be tough to do with a bunch of high schools,” Keyes said with a laugh. “He gets them going and motivated. For practice, he’s always the one setting the pace. In the meets, he’s pretty dominant, especially from the neutral (position) and with his takedowns. His work ethic is his biggest strength.”

The neutral position is where both wrestlers are standing and what Yan considers to be his greatest advantage, although he said he is working hard on the other elements of his craft.

“I consider neutral to be my strength, and I score most from there,” Yan explained. “I’ve struggled with top and riding people out, but I’ve worked really hard to improve on that. The coaches are helping me a lot to improve on my weaknesses.”

Yan strengthens his skills on the mat by borrowing aspects from the gridiron and his spot as outside center on the Troy United rugby club.

“Rugby is a very aggressive and physical sport, and much of that can be used in wrestling,” Yan remarked. “Wrestling helps with tackling in both sports, and I’ve gotten much better at body control, which is very important in rugby and wrestling.”

While his talent has garnered looks to possibly continue his athletic career in college, Yan is excited to pursue a higher calling.

“I’m currently in the delayed-entry program for the Marine Corps,” Yan said. “That’s my commitment right now, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve always dreamed about being in the military; it’s something I’ve wanted to do since seventh grade. Other kids want to be doctors or teachers, but I aspire to serve my country.”