ROCHESTER HILLS — Even on a day off from practice, it’s not uncommon to see Rochester Hills Stoney Creek wrestlers Kyle Noonan and Andrew Price putting in extra hours in the gym and on the mat.
“Kyle and I year-round work out together every day,” Price said. “We put a lot of work into it, and it’s nice to see one of your good friends do the same thing as you.”
“We push each other. It’s good to have someone there,” Noonan added. “Sometimes, when you’re on your own, you don’t go as hard without even knowing it.”
The grapplers’ hard work has paid off, as each won an Oakland County title Dec. 21 at Oxford Middle School.
Noonan, a senior, won his championship at 125 pounds; Price, a junior, took the title at 160 pounds.
Last year, Noonan and Price also won county titles at 112 and 152, respectively, becoming the school’s first duo to ever win county titles in the same year before doing it again this time around.
“For me, it was awesome,” coach Jeff Smart said. “I’m happy for them. It validates their hard work and abilities. To be county champ is difficult, so to do it two years in a row … I was proud of them.”
Noonan, who was 21-1 overall, took the title in dominating fashion, winning by pin in all four matches with only one of them entering the second round. In total, he wrestled 6 minutes, 30 seconds in the event.
“It was barely a full match for the entire tournament,” Smart said, as full matches are three two-minute periods. “That’s pretty impressive. It’s just one of those things. He was wrestling really well and got on a roll. No one expects that.”
Though Noonan said he wasn’t surprised.
“You step on the mat, you expect to win. … You have to go in there smart. You can’t go in there like everyone is a nobody, but you have to be confident,” he said. “That’s the hard part: drawing that line. There’s a difference between cockiness and confidence. Cockiness is where you talk yourself up and let everyone know you’re the best. Confidence is knowing you’re the best. I’ve kind of lived by that, and it helps me out.”
Price’s road to the championship was a bit more difficult, with an overtime win in his semifinal and then a 5-4 decision for the title.
“I thought his final match was as good of a match as I’ve seen him wrestle,” Smart said.
Price beat his opponent from Oxford in the championship — the same grappler who beat Price in the district level last year.
Price said his overtime victory in the semis helped him focus heading into the final, which Smart said he controlled most of the match.
“That kind of humbled me a little bit going into the final. It definitely helped me,” Price said.
Smart added that what makes the two tough to beat is their mat awareness, balance and variety of moves at their disposal.
“So they’re not someone that just does a couple of moves well, they do a lot of things well, and I think that makes them both really difficult to wrestle,” the coach said.
There is still another championship the pair is striving to attain. Last season, both qualified for the Division 1 state final.
“Last year, I wanted to win a state title and failed to do that,” Price said. “This year, I really want to win a state title. That’s it.”
Price didn’t place last year; Noonan finished fifth in the state.
“I went in there telling myself I could win it, but you have that doubt,” Noonan said. “After placing last year, I know I can make a run. I’ve already placed, so the next step is winning it.”