Farmington High’s Raymond Justice locks in a hold against his opponent at a team district Feb. 6. The Falcons won their first district title since 2016. Farmington went on to fall to Ortonville Brandon in a regional semifinal.

Farmington High’s Raymond Justice locks in a hold against his opponent at a team district Feb. 6. The Falcons won their first district title since 2016. Farmington went on to fall to Ortonville Brandon in a regional semifinal.

Photo by Brian Sevald


Farmington High wrestling excited about the future

By: Zachary Manning | Farmington Press | Published February 19, 2019

 Farmington High’s Javen Culpepper celebrates after winning a match during a team district Feb. 6. Falcons assistant coach Howard Welsh mentioned Culpepper as a wrestler with a bright future.

Farmington High’s Javen Culpepper celebrates after winning a match during a team district Feb. 6. Falcons assistant coach Howard Welsh mentioned Culpepper as a wrestler with a bright future.

Photo by Brian Sevald

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Before the season started, the Farmington High wrestling coaches knew they had a young team, but they wanted to achieve two major goals: win the city meet and take home a district championship trophy. 

The Falcons were able to do both, as they knocked off rivals North Farmington and Farmington Hills Harrison for the city title, while beating Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Auburn Hills Avondale to claim a Division 2 district title. 

It was the program’s first district championship since 2016.

The Falcons’ run came to an end with a regional semifinal loss to Ortonville Brandon 43-42 on a tiebreaker Feb. 13 at Goodrich High.

“We had a young team this year: lot of freshmen and sophomores. Just the fact that we were district champs was a pretty good accomplishment. We tied, but lost in a tiebreaker criteria in the semifinals of the regional, so we were just that close to being in the finals for the regional and one win away from getting to the state tournament. Generally, really pleased with the way the kids wrestled this year,” Falcons assistant coach Howard Welsh said.

The Falcons didn’t have many upperclassmen this season, but a couple who helped lead the team were seniors Donovan King (285-pound weight class) and Anthony Averiette (130). 

King advanced to the state finals after finishing first in a regional Feb. 16 at Gaylord High. He defeated Holly’s Blake Querio in the final match. King had previously lost to Querio twice in overtime, with one in the county championship and the other in the district final. 

“There’s the low points and the high points, but when the high points get up there, it’s one of the best feelings to win with a team you’ve been with for a while,” King said. “It’s just great to be a part of this program and be one of the leaders of the program to help it grow and keep growing.” 

With such a young team, a lot of underclassmen had to play vital roles this year. A few who stood out were sophomores Raymond Justice (160), Javen Culpepper (171) and Jason Butka (189), along with freshman Avery Wiklund (103). 

Wiklund and Justice gave the Falcons more than 40 combined wins this season; Culpepper finished fourth in his weight class at the Oakland Activities Association Red/White league tournament; and Butka came on strong at the end of the year, winning his match in the regional semifinal. 

Averiette has embraced his leadership role as one of the few veterans on the squad.

“I’ve been helping out my partners a lot. Throughout the season, my partners have gotten better and, I guess you could say, taken my style. My partners this year were younger than me, so I just did everything that I was taught,” Averiette said. 

As the team enters the offseason, the coaching staff is going to have open mats for the student-athletes to work on their individual skills and technique. The coaching staff is also hoping the young wrestlers take the opportunity to learn some new skills that they can use going into next season. 

In terms of the future of the program, things are looking up for Farmington. The Falcons had more wrestlers participate this year than in previous seasons, which has the coaching staff excited for future seasons. 

“We’ve lost four seniors who really contributed well this year. We only had three juniors, so next year’s team is going to be pretty young as well, but the kids improved quite a bit this year, so we’re hoping that next year we’ll continue to see improvement and growth of the team,” Welsh said.

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