Big Rapids wrestlers set school record for dual wins in a season

REED CITY — Narrowly missing out on the school record for dual meet wins last season, the Big Rapids wrestling team immediately began planning on how they could break that record next season. Next season has arrived and the Cardinals set the record with plenty of time to spare, picking up wins No. 24 and 25 of the season in a pair of victories over Holton and Reed City on Wednesday in Central State Activities Association action. Big Rapids coach Dan Sleeper said it was satisfying to see the team reach its goal so early in the season, but he knew the opportunity was there to break the record with seven seniors returning. “We knew last year that we were returned everybody but one wrestler, so we thought we had a good shot,” he said. “That was one of the first goals we set at a team at the end of last year. We’ve just followed through and it’s been a great season so far. We’re still not done yet, though.” The Cardinals (25-5) broke the record in a 53-18 win over the Red Devils, before taking down Reed City in the evening’s finale, 58-13. Reed City went 1-1 during the match, defeating Holton 39-34 before falling to the Cardinals. Big Rapids’ Nate Weckesser (119), Alim Muhammad (125), Brandon Buck (152), Jared Worden (160), Kyle Carter (171), Justin McClelland (189) and Shalon McIntyre (285) were all double-winners for the Cardinals on Wednesday. Adam Kehr (145) and Matt Crysler (215) both went 2-0 on Wednesday for the Coyotes. McIntyre, who is a senior for the Cardinals, said reaching the mark is a special moment for he and the seniors that have put in a lot of hours to improve over the last four years. “It means a lot,” he said. “We came into last season as one of the younger teams and now this year we took all that experience and used it. It’s been a really long time since (the old record was set). We’re pretty happy about it.” To get the record so early in the season was a welcomed surprise and a bit of a relief, Sleeper said. “I am a little (surprised),” he said of how long it took the Cardinals to break the school record. “We started the season out at 21-0, so I was really pleased with that. It’s a relief to get it over with, because we knew we were going to get it, it was a matter of when.” Reed City coach Roger Steig gave the Cardinals credit for winning a number of close matches on over the Coyotes on Wednesday. “Coming in, we knew that Holton and Big Rapids were both strong conference teams,” he said. “To come out 1-1, I’m happy with the way our kids wrestled. Against Big Rapids, we had a lot of tough matches that just went (Big Rapids’) way. We’re getting there, though.” McIntyre and Sleeper both agreed that the seniors have set the tone for the rest of the team in creating a competitive atmosphere for the rest of the team. “When you have seven seniors in your starting lineup, things get taken care of,” Sleeper said. “It’s really been the senior leadership on this team that has come on strong.” Steig said he hopes his team can continue to grow as the season progresses. “We’re so young, the biggest thing is to get them to believe in themselves,” he said. “We’re at the point where our guys are starting to believe in themselves and it’s showing on the mat.”