Evart wrestling program ready to start


EVART — Wrestling will be making its debut at Evart High School this winter.

The sport will start out as a club and coach Ryan Hopkins indicated he has around seven wrestlers. But a full schedule has been drawn up and Hopkins is ready to go.

“We are scheduled for some dual meets during the season and Saturday invitationals as well,” he said.

The first week of practice started on Nov. 17 and practices will continue as the team gets ready for its first action Dec. 13 at Big Rapids.

Other dates are Dec. 17 at Pine River, Jan. 3 and Jan. 31 at Reed City, Jan. 7 at Beaverton, Jan. 10 at Gladwin, Jan. 12 at Lake City, Jan. 21 at Gladwin, Jan. 28 at Lakeview and Feb. 4 at Manistee.

Hopkins is still hoping the Wildcats might be able to get a home match on the schedule.

“Everybody has had their schedule in place,” Hopkins said. “It’s been a little struggle for us, but we have some meets scheduled. As far as a home meet, we’re not sure if we’ll get one scheduled.”

While plans were being formulated for a wrestling program, applications were made for grants and Hopkins noted that mats and other basic gear have been secured. Practices are at the Evart Middle School.

Hopkins said as it stands now, the wrestlers won’t be competing in MHSAA postseason events because of Evart’s club status.

“We’re following all the MHSAA rules,” Hopkins said. “The school is seeing what interest we’ll get.”

Two of the seven wrestlers have some youth wrestling experience, Hopkins said, while the others are new. Caleb Parish is among the experienced wrestlers. A main objective is to get the athletes and school introduced to the sport, Hopkins said.

Hopkins said practices for youth wrestlers, below high school age, have also been starting.

“We’re generating interest there,” he said, adding that he anticipated 30 to 40 youngsters competing at that level, which bodes well for a future high school program. “These kids have been wrestling anywhere from three to six years now.”