By Jim Newell
The Lake Orion Dragon Wrestling team was one of over thirty teams battling for Oakland County Championships this past weekend, and two of the grapplers took first place in their respective weight classes at the tournament.
After two days of wrestling, the Dragons as a team finished third at the county championship, placing them among the elite in Oakland County.
Taking first was reigning county champion, Oxford High School, followed by Clarkston.
The Dragons were right there finishing a strong third and they look forward to the matches to come against their rivals.
“Regarding this year’s team, we have more depth and experienced wrestlers than we have had since I took over at Lake Orion,” said Head Coach Jeff Smart. “It has been a hard-working team, and a good mix of seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshman.”
Lake Orion had seven wrestlers who won medals, meaning they finished in the top 8 of their weight class.
Junior Hunter Chambers finished fifth in the 285-pound weight class. Senior Tyler Vestrand place fifth at 189 pounds, Sophomore Issac Kinne placed fourth at 171 pounds, Senior Noah Smith finished third at 142 pounds, Junior Jaden Fisher placed second at 152 pounds.
The Dragon highlights of the weekend were the first-place finishes by Senior Sam Kinne at 215 pounds and Junior Dylan Wellbaum placing first at 160 pounds.
“The Dragon Wrestling team has had some impressive showings this young season, including a 1st place finish in the Romeo Tournament. Head Coach Jeff Smart and his coaches are doing a great job, helping to put Dragon Wrestling back among the elite,” said Athletic Director Chris Bell.
The team consists of 42 wrestlers: seven seniors, 13 juniors, 12 sophomores and 10 freshmen.
“We had a good off-season, and I am excited for this season and for the future,” Smart said. “This group of kids are ‘coachable’ and want to get better, they are competitive – even in the practice room,” Smart said.
With the season just beginning, the Dragons will have to face some familiar foes in the OAA to battle for a league championship.
“Our league is tough, so we will have good competition with Oxford, Clarkston, Rochester Adams, and Rochester,” Smart said.
“Our non-league meets include perennially powers Hartland, Dakota, and Anchor Bay. We wrestle some tough teams in most of our tournaments as well.”