Eisenhower wrestling having fun in postseason

By: Thomas Franz | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 15, 2016


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — There’s a time to be serious and a time to have fun.

Fortunately for Utica Eisenhower’s wrestling team, it has been able to keep that balance for most of this season.

To begin the postseason, that personality seemed to serve the team well.

The Eagles cruised through a district tournament Feb. 11 by defeating Troy Athens 66-12 and Utica High 54-18 to advance to regionals.

“They are goofy as the day is long, so that keeps it interesting,” Eisenhower coach Dave Drath said following the team’s victory.

Drath pointed to Adrian Vuksani as the ringleader of the team’s antics, but when his number was called in the district final, Vuksani delivered a pinfall victory in the heavyweight class.

“That keeps things interesting. You’re always wondering what kind of weird things are coming down the pipe. I think that helps at this time of the year,” Drath said.

The Eagles may not be having as much fun if they weren’t Drath’s most talented team yet at Eisenhower. Drath said this year’s team is his best from top to bottom.

“I’ve been waiting a long time for a team like this to come by. Normally, we’ll have six or seven really tough guys, juniors and seniors, then we’ll have a bunch of inexperienced guys, and you fight to be competitive sometimes,” Drath said. “These guys are a little bit different; I have some really skilled kids.”

Entering the postseason, Eisenhower featured six seniors who were ranked in the top eight in the state for their respective weight classes: Hunter Truba (125 pounds), Vince Marceau (130), Carlo Marceau (135), Owen Donovan (145), Joe Mets (189) and Vuksani (285).

“I think you look at the two Marceau brothers, who are as solid as anything — they’re phenomenal. Owen (Donovan) brings an elegance to the sport and a way of moving that’s incredible. I think Adrian (Vuksani), as goofy as he is, that’s a kid you always count on for a win and usually a pin,” Drath said.

Drath pointed to a victory against Romeo High in 2013, the freshman season for those seniors, as a moment that sparked the group’s run to where it is now.

“That was huge. That was a big match for us, beating those guys. That was exciting. That’s the same group that’s been going together, working together, and kind of excelling together for the last four years,” Drath said.

Against Eisenhower, Utica got victories from Lucas Young at 125 pounds, Dylan Page at 145 pounds and Nick Mason in the 171-pound flight.

“We wrestled really well,” Utica coach Clint Davis said. “Our guys didn’t back down, and that’s something they should be proud of.”

The numbers game caught up to Utica in the district final, though, as the Chieftains had to void three weight classes and surrender an automatic 18 points.

“We need to get more guys on the team. It’s hard to keep them. Wrestling is a tough sport, and we don’t back off on them. The kids who are here want to wrestle and want to do well, and they’re young — that’s the best thing going right now,” Davis said.

Utica has started a youth wrestling program, which Davis hopes will increase interest in his program in the near future.

“Hopefully, they’ll keep coming and move up the ranks, then we’ll be an equal with Eisenhower,” Davis said.

In the district semifinal matches, Utica beat Troy High 58-23, while Eisenhower beat Troy Athens 66-12.

Wrestlers from Utica and Eisenhower competed in the MHSAA individual district tournament on Feb. 13 at Troy High.

Eisenhower advanced to the team regional tournament Feb. 17 at Rochester High to take on Rochester Adams in a regional semifinal. The winner of that bout will advance to face Clarkston High or Oxford High in a regional final that same night.