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 Members of the Birmingham Brother Rice wrestling team pose with the trophy after winning a Division 1 team district tournament Feb. 13 at Birmingham Groves. The Warriors beat Birmingham Seaholm 51-20 to claim the district crown and defeated Bloomfield Hills High 47-22  in the semifinals.

Members of the Birmingham Brother Rice wrestling team pose with the trophy after winning a Division 1 team district tournament Feb. 13 at Birmingham Groves. The Warriors beat Birmingham Seaholm 51-20 to claim the district crown and defeated Bloomfield Hills High 47-22 in the semifinals.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Brother Rice wrestling ends district title drought

By: Jacob Herbert | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 18, 2020

 Birmingham Seaholm’s Cam Murray battles with Rice’s Matt Kolesky in the team district tournament at Groves. The Maples finished the season at 10-9 overall in dual meets.

Birmingham Seaholm’s Cam Murray battles with Rice’s Matt Kolesky in the team district tournament at Groves. The Maples finished the season at 10-9 overall in dual meets.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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BEVERLY HILLS — There’s something to be said for building a culture and trusting the process that comes along with it. Just four years ago, the Birmingham Brother Rice wrestling program was in jeopardy as the Warriors team featured a small handful of wrestlers.

Fast-forward a few years later and the Rice wrestling program is overflowing with grapplers looking to get a spot in the starting lineup.

All the hard work and dedication put in by those within the program paid off Feb. 13 as the Warriors won a Division 1 district tournament. Rice beat Birmingham Seaholm 51-20 in the final and Bloomfield Hills High 47-22 in the semifinals.

“It’s been nine years since a district trophy has been at Brother Rice,” first-year coach Scott Kolesky said. “I’m proud of these seniors. Four years ago we had five or six wrestlers on the team, so we’ve come a long way. This means a lot to the program, it means a lot to the school, and it means a lot to the Brother Rice community.”

In the final against Seaholm, the Warriors pinned the Maples in seven of the 14 weight classes. The quickest pin came from Rice’s Anthony D’Angelo at 33 seconds.

The Warriors were without two top wrestlers in Zac Brown and Ohannes Sarkisian due to injury. A simple team motto of “do what we do” ensured Rice never missed a beat.

“Everybody had a job to do today when we came in here,” Kolesky said. “Regardless of Ohannes and Zac being out, each guy knew they had a job to do, and we executed.”

Kolesky identified Charlie Nelson at 135 pounds and Joseph McKay at 125 as standouts on the night. Both wrestlers won each of the matches they participated in.

Brother Rice will move on to a regional semifinal Feb. 19 hosted by Walled Lake Western. The Warriors will face Hartland High at 5:30 p.m.

Seaholm finished the season with a 10-9 record in dual meets and was winless in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division.

Coach Neil Tuomi said a plethora of injuries made for a less than ideal season for the Maples. One injury snowballed into many other problems. The coach said every team has injuries this time of year, but that the key to success going forward depends on a healthy Maples team.

“I thought we were going to be good, and then everything bad that could happen happened,” Tuomi said. “But our kids battled and a lot of freshmen got good experience. Great kids, great coaches and great parents. We just didn’t win.”

To get to the final, the Maples topped rival Birmingham Groves 48-33 in the district semifinals. Matt Gilbert at 285 pounds, Zachary Simpson (112) and Rhys Ballard (130) all got pins for the Maples.

Tuomi said that Cameron Murray was a standout for Seaholm at 119 pounds. Murray won by void against Groves and beat his Rice opponent by a 14-2 major decision.

Groves finished the season with a 15-15 overall record in dual meets. Coach Joseph Jones said a few small tweaks here and there and the team could have easily been 20-10.

In the match against Seaholm, the Falcons got pins from Dan Oakwood at 171 pounds and Dominic Delgado at 140 pounds.

“The seniors were great,” Jones said. “They’ve been in the program since the sixth grade. They’re great kids to work with. They’re disciplined and they’re dedicated to the sport.”

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