Woodridge wrestling team working to overcome key injuries
PENINSULA — Through Jan. 26, the Woodridge High School wrestling team had a 10-2 overall record in dual meets and a perfect 6-0 mark in the league.
“The first half of the year, we did very well — about what we expected to do as far as duals,” said head coach Mike Massey. “We were able to fill all of the weight classes, and I think that gives you an advantage over a lot of teams. On top of that, we’ve wrestled well. We’ve beaten some good teams that also have full lineups. I think we are a scrappy team. We don’t have a lot of kids on the team with a lot of wrestling experience, so we have to make up for it somehow.”
Massey said the team is led by a pair of returning state qualifiers in Mason Hilling and Cody Jenkins.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had returning state qualifiers back in the room,” the coach said.
Hilling is a senior who wrestles at 220 pounds.
“Mason’s had a very good year. He was sixth at Brecksville, and Brecksville is one of the toughest tournaments in the state. To finish sixth there was, I thought, excellent,” Massey said. “And he finished second, runner-up, at the Dies Tournament. Mason is right on track to pick up right where he left off last year and hopefully be down at Columbus this year and be on a podium.”
Jenkins is a junior who wrestled at 195 pounds.
“Cody is also having a pretty good year, but maybe not as good as I think he expected or others expected of a returning state qualifier,” the coach said. “He’s struggled a little bit, but the year is not over yet and some tournaments are coming up. I think he’s had a pretty good year, but it hasn’t been quite what he’s expected of himself yet.”
Another key wrestler on this year’s team, Massey said, is senior Doug McIe (182 pounds).
“So far, Doug probably hasn’t wrestled to his full potential, but we’re coming up at a critical part of the season and, hopefully, he will peak at the right time,” the coach said.
Massey said he is “very excited” about what freshman Eli Yoho (113 pounds) has brought to the team.
“Eli just finished second at the Dies Tournament. That’s a big tournament, with 40-some schools, and very competitive. For a freshman to go in there and finish second is outstanding, and he was actually winning the match with five seconds left, but he ended up losing by a point,” the coach stated. “He obviously has a lot of potential as a freshman. I think he’s only lost three matches all year.”
According to Massey, Woodridge has suffered “two big injuries to two very good wrestlers” that will impact the team’s chances going forward.
“Hunter Mercer is a junior and he was a district qualifier last year. He hurt his knee in a big meet we had against Rootstown. He just had surgery last week on his meniscus,” the coach said. “And senior Eric Bissonnette started off the season 13-0. He got injured right before the Dies, where he had been seeded fifth and was expected to do very well. He hurt his meniscus in practice and he just had surgery last week as well. They are both out for the season, and that’s going to hurt us come tournament time as far as team scores are concerned.”
Massey said his team will look to overcome those injuries and try to “peak at the right time.”
“You work hard and you train hard, and I think it’s just about timing,” he said. “We want to go into sectionals as healthy as we can and feeling fresh and strong and good. That’s what we are shooting for.”
The Portage Trail Conference League meet will take place tomorrow, Jan. 31, at Waterloo High School, and Massey said his team will fight hard in an effort to take home a league title.
“We won the dual meet portion of the County, so we are in first place going into the tournament part of it,” he said. “Now, it’s just a matter of whether we have enough kids who can score in the league meet to keep us in first place. After losing Eric and Hunter, it will be a challenge.”
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