Miller giving Pine River wrestlers boost at two weight classes

LEROY — For having been in wrestling only two seasons, Pine River’s Joe Miller is enjoying quite a career.

Miller is wrestling at 171 or 189 for the Bucks in his senior season. It’s only his second year of wrestling.

“Last year was my first year,” Miller said. “I didn’t know much. I kept going with the team, kept listening to coach (Tim) Jones and did everything he said. I ended up 19 and 19. So far this year, I’m 5-2.”

Miller had played basketball prior to going out for wrestling. “I was OK at it but realized my chances for a lot of playing time in basketball were slim to none. My brother was wrestling so I thought I’d give it a try.”

Miller wants to make it to at least individual regionals this year.

“Hopefully our team will make it to state this year,” he said, “and maybe I can get to individual state.”

Miller said the key for his success will be putting in extra hours and working hard. He’s also hoping to expand on his strengths.

“My snapdowns are pretty good,” he said. “I usually get standups pretty good too.”

Miller is working on improving his top and bottom movement.

“I want to make sure when I’m on my back, I bridge and get out,” he said.

Pine River has gotten out to a 5-2 overall start.

“We’re looking pretty good right now,” Miller said. “I think we can potentially go to team state if everyone works hard.”

Hesperia will be a formidable opponent the Bucks will eventually have to contend with, Miller noted.

Mitchell Kelsey, another standout wrestler for the Bucks, agrees. He’s gotten off to a 3-0 start including an overtime win over Benzie on Wednesday.

Last year, he was a regional qualifier. He’s at 135, the same weight class as last year. He’s expecting to have his best season.

“I’m a lot better than last year,” Kelsey said. “I’m stronger smarter and quicker. I’m fast on my feet and get the takedowns. I like to be there. I like to work until they get tired.”

Kelsey’s hoping to be a state placer this year and wouldn’t mind seeing his team going to state finals.

“We’re shooting to hit state again,” he said. “We have a lot of guys all-around. Our practice tempo is high. We have to fight for everything we get.”