With the district wrestling tournament only a few days away, the Fremont Ross wrestling team isn’t about to sit back and go through the status quo.
To stay fresh and in peak physical shape, the Little Giants are spending their week fine-tuning against live competition. Tuesday the program traveled to Edison High School, home of the Division III team tournament runner-up, to work out in preparation for the district tournament and Wednesday hosting Clyde and Gibsonburg.
“At a place like Edison, they had a lot of teams come in with the new wrestling room opened, they’re a tough D3 school, got a lot of state qualifiers, a lot of good athletes there,” coach Chad Hetrick said. “So, it’s better than staying home with the same old drilling partner and the same old looks. They went over there and they performed. They got a good workout in and a good sweat in and I felt good about it.”
Three Little Giants will enter the district tournament as No. 1 seeds, coming off of sectional championships. Jackson Weissinger holds a 38-3 record at 160 pounds and won the 100th match of his career during the sectional tournament. Caleb Wood is 31-8 in the 195-pound weight class while Mike Thomas, at 285 pounds, has a 24-12 record.
“The big surprise was Mike Thomas,” Hetrick said. “He came in and wrestled hard and ended up being a champ. He went out and wrestled and did his thing like we knew he could do all season long. He finally turned it on and performed well.”
Charles Chapman (30-6) is seeded No. 2 at 132 pounds having lost in the championship of the sectional tournament while Keaton Jordan is a No. 4 seed at 152 pounds (31-13).
Carter Smith (126 pounds) finished fifth at sectionals and is an alternate for districts should a wrestler fail to make weight Friday afternoon prior to the tournament.
“We had a few guys we thought would advance also,” Hetrick said. “It’s one of the tougher sectionals in D1 and we’re going to head into one of the tougher districts also.”
The biggest disappointment from sectionals was the loss of Deshae Pettiford. The senior, and former state meet qualifier, who’d won his sectional as a junior last year, suffered a broken bone in his thumb and was forced to withdraw.
“It was hurting pretty good,” Hetrick said. “(Pettiford) went out and tried to wrestle but couldn’t get through it and we ended up calling the match. That was one of the toughest things we’ve had to do. He came up through the bitty program and had so much success in his high school career so it’s a big disappointment for him and us. He would have made it out of districts pretty handedly and most likely would have been on the podium at state.”
As for those going to districts, Weissinger, Wood, Thomas, Chapman and Jordan, Hetrick said the road to the state meet is viable one.
“Jackson is out with the flu right now,” Hetrick said. “Hopefully he can rebound off of that, but if he rebounds he should be able to make it pretty easily. “Caleb Wood should be able to make it out pretty easily, there really is nobody standing in his way at districts. Chapman has one of the tougher weight brackets at 132, I think there’s four projected state places in that bracket, five with him. It’s going to be a dog fight for him to get out, and he’s not 100 percent either. He still has his knee injury and bruised sternum in finals at sectionals.
“(Thomas) has to wrestle well to make it out but he also has a decent draw,” Hetrick added. “(Jordan has) got a tough district ahead of him.”
The district tournament is being hosted at Mentor High School. The Friday session begins at 5 p.m. and will consist of the first two rounds. Saturday at 9 a.m. will be the consolation bracket first round, followed by the semifinals at 12:30 and the finals are scheduled to being at 6 p.m. Saturday.