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 Ferndale High wrestling coach John Bassier, right, is pictured at a recent practice. The Eagles won a district championship last season

Ferndale High wrestling coach John Bassier, right, is pictured at a recent practice. The Eagles won a district championship last season

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Ferndale High wrestling returns after winning district title last season

By: Mark Vest | Woodward Talk | Published December 17, 2019


FERNDALE — For the first time in more than a decade, Ferndale High’s wrestling team has begun a season as defending district champions.

Last season, the Eagles won a Division 2 district championship, giving the Eagles their first postseason title since 2001, according to coach John Bassier.

Aside from all the victories on the mat, what the Eagles have accomplished can help create a winning mentality.

“Attitude is (going to) be the most important thing that you can control as you go through time and through your life,” Bassier said. “And hopefully, the positive attitude that we developed with those wins last year and the previous league titles will continue to carry (them) forward.  … In a way, it is a tradition now that we established that we hadn’t had for a while.”

After having the program’s two-year streak of winning an Oakland Activities Association Blue Division championship snapped last season, Bassier wants to see his team back on top of the standings.

“That’d be a wonderful, wonderful thing again. … That would be another nice (banner),” Bassier said.

Some of the wrestlers who can help put Ferndale in position to accomplish that feat are returnees Dylan Coleman (112-pound weight class), Ameer Joyner (119), Justin Varnadore (135), Elijah Pool (140), Christian Renfroe (145), Mason Smith (145) and Joshua Cook (189).

Their roles can be particularly important, given the Eagles’ roster size. Bassier said there are 20 grapplers on the squad.

“We do not have a big team,” Bassier said. “That’s the problem. … We are real thin. So we got (to) stay healthy. But if the kids keep improving, we should have a decent year.”

Coleman is in his sophomore season, and after having been part of a district championship, he would also like a chance to help the program secure another OAA Blue title.

“It would be pretty cool,” Coleman said. “I wasn’t on the team when we won it. … It would mean a lot.”

With the success the program has had, Bassier acknowledged there is some pressure.

“We have a saying, ‘tradition never graduates,’” Bassier said. “We’ve established a good tradition; now it’s your turn to keep that tradition going.”