GVSU club wrestling kicks off 2016 with Fall Brawl

Eric Dietz works to keep his opponent on the ground to win the club wrestling match on Feb. 6 in Allendale, MI.

Kasey Garvelink

Eric Dietz works to keep his opponent on the ground to win the club wrestling match on Feb. 6 in Allendale, MI.

Danny Schwartz

The GVSU club men’s wrestling team opened its 2016-17 season travelling to Dearborn, Michigan, to compete in the Fall Brawl at Henry Ford College Saturday, Oct. 29.

“We brought seven of our younger guys down to get their first experience in a college tournament,” said GVSU coach Rick Bolhuis. “We wanted to see what the younger guys were capable of right off the bat.”

There were no team scores, only individual placing. For GVSU, Sean Halverson placed second at 125 pounds, while Khalil Brown placed third at the same weight class. Travis Starr finished as the runner-up at 133. Dylan Dwyer came in first at his weight class and became champion at 149, while Brenden DeVries became champion at 184. At 285, Miguel Correa was the runner-up, while Langston Mitchell placed sixth.

“They wrestled well and two won their weight class,” Bolhuis said. “Bringing home a championship in their first-ever college tournament is a really cool thing.”

This was the first event after last season ended with GVSU finishing as runner-ups at the NCWA Nationals. GVSU is looking for an even more successful season this time around.

GVSU has three returning all-Americans in Brendan Hazelton at 125 pounds, Bailey Bischer at 174 pounds and Harun Bogdanic at 235 pounds. Coach Bolhuis said GVSU also had many guys that were within a match of placing last year as well, so they have a solid core group.

Key incoming freshmen include the two wrestlers who won their weight classes on Saturday—Dwyer and DeVries.

One of the hardest parts of GVSU’s schedule will be a weekend in late November, where they will wrestle on back-to-back days in two different states. They will drive to Akron, Ohio and wrestle teams from the east side of Ohio and west side of Pennsylvania, and then drive back to Flint at Mott Community College to wrestle at another event the next day.

As he enters his sixth year as the head coach of GVSU’s wrestling squad, Bolhuis knows his team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Even as a fairly young team, I think we’re pretty experienced,” Bolhuis said. “We have guys at pretty much every weight that have made a deep run at the national tournament, and they’ve wrestled the type of kids that are all-Americans. I’m hoping we can lean on some of those experiences to help the entire team.”

As far as weaknesses, Bolhuis wishes GVSU had a little more numbers in depth.

“We need some more guys behind our leaders to push them to be better, so that’s the desire right now,” Bolhuis said.

GVSU wrestler Jake Sobeck believes something crucial to their success this year will be freshmen stepping up and filling the holes that were left when many seniors graduated.

“One of the new 149-pounders, Dylan Dwyer, definitely shows promise,” Sobeck said. “He really gets after it in practice, he shows great technique. If I had to pick one freshman, I would say he has a good chance of making an impact.”

GVSU’s short-term goals include figuring out what weights the wrestlers belong. Also in the first semester, Bolhuis wants his team to get in as many tough matches as they can to use as measuring sticks for the second semester, which is the time that really matters.

As far as long term goals go, GVSU anticipates to be very competitive again. They fully expect to contend for the national title at both national tournaments they go to.

GVSU wrestler and All-American Bailey Bischer is looking to go into this new season without any regrets, including how last season ended.

“Being so close to winning, it was very disappointing initially,” Bischer said. “But looking back now, it was a great accomplishment and I think everyone is proud of what we did last year. There is a bit of disappointment, but we’ll just use that as fuel for this year.”

Bischer also believes a weakness for the team may be balancing school and wrestling, especially for him going into his junior year. Bischer believes that with classes getting harder and many other time commitments becoming more important, the biggest thing is making up the time the wrestlers can’t be at practice.

“Whether it be morning workouts or additional workouts, it’s just doing the extra stuff that will allow us to be successful,” he said.

The Lakers’ next event will be Tuesday, Nov. 1 at the Davenport Dual in Grand Rapids.