FHC Wrestling Season Preview

FHC Wrestling Season Preview

Tyler George, Sports Reporter

From the weight room, you can see the window to the wrestling room fogged up with sweat. You can’t see inside, but you know that each individual inside is laying it all on the line. After talking to head coach Brad Anderson for just a few minutes, you can tell that he carries that mentality with him everywhere he goes. A mentality full of grit, toughness, passion, and togetherness.

Anderson, who is in his thirteenth year, has single-handedly built the wrestling program from the ground up. Aside from teaching his team how to act on the mat, he teaches his students the right way to go about life. After a successful season last year, in which a few wrestlers competed individually at states, they look to advance through the playoffs as a team this season. Last season, the team had a strong group of seniors that are now graduated, but while the lineup changes the program’s qualities remain the same.

“I like to think that year to year our program has the same qualities,” Anderson said. “Our guys like to fight, they are hard-working, and they step up to replace the guys before them. Like they say, tradition never graduates.”

One of those seniors whose void won’t be easily replaced is Matt Mills. Mills was a four-year varsity wrestler that was dominant during his high school career. He now wrestles for Stanford University in California. Anderson knows that losing Matt is tough, but he will be replaced with another strong individual.

“The nice thing about a guy like Matt is that he sets a standard that others want to work for,” Anderson said. “We have new guys that want to step up and be ‘the guy’ in our program. Matt is hard to replace, but he left behind a great legacy for others to follow.”

Other seniors that will be missed include Ben Fox, David Mainero, and Ike Kinney.

One senior that was solid as a junior, but looks to have a breakout year is BJ Franovic. BJ is confident in this year’s team and has high hopes for the season.

“I can’t remember a year we’ve done a better job filling the holes with quality wrestlers,” BJ said. “Up and down the line up all of our holes are filled and look solid.”

In preparation for the season, the guys have kept it simple by doing what they are used to.

“The guys have been working on the fundamentals and working on getting in great shape,” Anderson said. “Wrestling is pretty simple, take a guy down, put them on their back, and if you get taken down, get back up. The rest are just details.”

With leagues changing, there is a new list of competition on the Rangers’ schedule. But one of their common foes remains the same.

“Lowell is a nationally ranked program and very tough,” Anderson said. “We have a very gritty wrestling conference beyond that with teams like Cedar Springs and Greenville. We want to be competitive every time we step on the mat.”

One main goal for this unit is controlling what they can control.

“As a team, our biggest goal is handling everything we can,” BJ said. “What’s in our control we’ll make sure we have down.”

Ultimately, every team shares a common goal and that’s no different for this group.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a team with a better chance of making it to states,” BJ said. “Qualifying as a team is a big goal for us.”

The saying “tradition never dies” is true for this program, and the tradition is just beginning for first-year senior Sam Hopkins. Right away Sam knew there was something special about Anderson and the Ranger wrestling program.

“It’s been a great experience,” Sam said. “I was pretty far behind at the beginning of the year, but I’ve worked with coach Anderson individually and he’s helped me get caught up pretty quickly.”

Sam knows that when it comes down to it, the hardware is what you put all the time in for.

“The team goal, like on any other team, would be making it deep into the playoffs as a program,” he said.

Both Anderson and BJ  have the same mindset on the team’s identity and what they will be known for.

“Our team’s going to be known for physicality,” BJ said. “We have some new guys, and we have some experienced guys. The matches we win, we’ll be better and work harder. As for the matches we lose, we’ll walk away knowing we had nothing left to give.”

Anderson looks to put BJ’s plan into use to achieve the end goal.

“The goal is the same every year,” Anderson said. “Win team districts, qualify for the team state tournament, and qualify six individuals for the individual state tournament in March.”