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Clinton Township, Fraser

February 26, 2014

Local wrestlers to compete at individual state championships

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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Chippewa Valley’s Evan Lockemy wrestles in a district bout on Feb 5. Lockemy will be wrestling in the 140-pound weight class in the individual state finals, which will be held at The Palace of Auburn Hills beginning on Feb. 27.

WARREN — Several wrestlers from throughout Macomb County took part in a training practice together Feb. 19 at Warren Woods Tower to continue preparations for their respective matches in the upcoming MHSAA individual state championships.

One of those still in the hunt for the finals podium is a freshman and the lone qualifier for Fraser. Danny Pfeffer will be representing the Ramblers in the 125-pound weight class. He will take on Evan Schroder of Portage Northern.

Pfeffer takes a 39-8 record to The Palace of Auburn Hills. He has won a district title, as well, and took second at regionals.

“He’s learned a lot of offense. He wasn’t the very best shooter when he came in; he used to grab on his sprawls and back ankles. Now, he’s got solid defense, good offense; he’s been scoring from his shots, and his defensive skills have improved tremendously. It’s very hard to take Danny (Pfeffer) down,” Fraser coach Rick Julien said of Pfeffer’s improvement this season.

Being a freshman, Julien said that the leaders of Fraser’s team took Pfeffer under their wings to help him improve.

“One of the captains on the team is Matt Keys, and he did a nice job. It’s not all about coaching; sometimes, you need that leadership from somebody who’s wrestled three or four years, and Matt (Keys) took him under his wing this season and helped guide him through the season,” Julien said.

Chippewa Valley will be sending two wrestlers to the state finals in Evan Lockemy (140 pounds) and Tristan Szanja (152).

Lockemy has compiled a 50-4 record, won a district title and placed third at regionals. He will be going against Jacob Heaps, also from Portage Northern.

One key to Lockemy’s late-season success has been wrestling at a lighter weight class. After wrestling at 152 pounds the last two years, Lockemy said that he’s felt stronger while wrestling at 140 pounds.

“It wasn’t a ton of work (losing weight). I was weighing pretty light anyways,” Lockemy said. “Going to 140 has helped a lot. The kids are so much lighter, and I feel a lot stronger. I’ve been used to wrestling 152 for the past two years, so that 12 pounds is a lot.”

Szanja, who is 31-8, took third place at districts prior to finishing fourth at the regional tournament. Szanja will be taking on Blake Montrie of Temperance Bedford in the opening round of the state tournament.

Coming into the season, Szanja said that he hoped to keep his losses under 10 and that he’s conditioned hard to do just that.

“That was my goal for myself, to keep my losses under 10, and the wins helped out for the seeds in the bigger tournaments,” Szanja said. “I’ve worked a lot on my scrambling and speeding up my style a little bit, and stepped up the conditioning a little bit so I can go the full six minutes hard.”

The MHSAA individual state finals will begin Feb. 27, with the first bouts beginning at 2 p.m. with 112-pound weight class. Quarterfinals and semifinals of the championship bracket will occur on Feb. 28, with the finals taking place on March 1. All matches will be held at The Palace.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.