New Roseville High wrestling coach instilling program’s history into his team

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 18, 2016

 The Roseville High wrestling team is out for a trip to the Division 2 state finals. The Panthers last got to the state finals in 2012. Pictured is Panthers 215-pounder Marcus Fresch, left, battling Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse’s Dominic Scott during a Jan. 9 match.

The Roseville High wrestling team is out for a trip to the Division 2 state finals. The Panthers last got to the state finals in 2012. Pictured is Panthers 215-pounder Marcus Fresch, left, battling Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse’s Dominic Scott during a Jan. 9 match.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROSEVILLE — Roseville High wrestling coach Justin Petrone knows a little bit about the history of the program.

After all, Petrone won a Division 1 state title at 152 pounds as a member of the Roseville wrestling team in 2004. He also wrestled in the D-1 145-pound state title match in 2003.

Petrone, who is in his first year as head coach after serving as an assistant under recently departed coach Davon Gray, said he’s opened the team’s eyes to the history of the program with the hopes that it will push the grapplers to work hard to reach the heights he climbed as a student-athlete at Roseville.

“The program has struggled a bit in recent years. I know what this program is, and I want them to know that so they take that with them into each match,” said Petrone, whose team had a 1-0 mark in dual meets at press time.

“(Former Roseville High Athletic Director and wrestling coach Major Mickens) asked me if I wanted to take the job, and I said, ‘Of course.’ It’s a dream to be able to coach here.”

Roseville’s last trips to the team state finals came in 2011 and 2012, when it fell in the state quarterfinals each time. Panthers 103-pounder Elijuh Weaver advanced to the D-1 state title match in 2015 before falling 8-4 to Michael Mars, of Westland John Glenn.

In all, Roseville grapplers have competed in 17 state title matches since 1968. The school boasts 12 state champs, including Petrone and Gray. Gray won state titles in 1993 and 1994. The school’s last state champ came in 2009 when Robert Nash won the 152-pound crown in D-1.

Panthers grapplers said they have taken notice of that history.

Roseville senior 152-pounder Julio Rosario, a four-year varsity wrestler, said knowing the history of the program pushes him to work harder so he can possibly have his name remembered in Roseville lore.

“And it means a lot to our coach,” Rosario said. “It makes me want to not let him down. He puts in a lot of time with us Monday through Saturday. Knowing someone cares that much about seeing you succeed and having it come from someone who wrestled in the same gym as you means a lot.”

Petrone said his lineup is solid, with more grapplers in the 140-pound and up weight classes.

The Panthers have 28 wrestlers on the squad, including a group of seven seniors led by Rosario and 160-pounder Kyle Minor, who won his weight class at the 2015 Macomb County Championships.

“We’ve got quite a few quality wrestlers on this team,” Minor said. “We feel like this is the year we could make a run in the state tournament.”
Petrone would like to see his team make a run to the state finals, which take place Feb. 26-27 at Central Michigan University. The individual finals take place March 3-5 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Roseville is in a Division 1 district tournament with Fraser High, Warren Cousino and Warren De La Salle. The district tournament takes place at 5 p.m. Feb. 11 at Cousino. Roseville gets Fraser in a district semifinal and the winner of a Cousino/De La Salle matchup in the district final.

“It’ll be tough to get out of the districts, but I think we have a shot,” Petrone said.

“We want to get to the team state finals. None of us have ever done that, and we really wanna see it happen,” Rosario said.

On the individual side, Petrone believes he has four wrestlers who have solid chances to advance to The Palace — Rosario, Minor, along with seniors Rion May (145 pounds) and Karey Winston (140).

“Those guys all have the talent to get to the state finals,” Petrone said. “Hopefully, we can get a couple of surprises (to the state finals) too.”
Roseville next takes to the mat for a dual meet with Warren Lincoln set for 5 p.m. Jan. 21 at Lincoln.

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