ESCANABA - Escanaba head wrestling coach Jamie Segorski has never had a team this young. Escanaba graduated nine from last year's team, have no seniors on the team and will depend considerably on a class of 11 freshmen.
"This is the youngest team I've ever had. We have 11 freshmen, many with no wrestling experience at all," Segorski said. "It's a great opportunity to coach though. We'll have 14 varsity guys and we're fortunate in the respect that we're in the upper 20s (numbers-wise)."
The Eskymos will remain strong in the middle weights where returnees such as Travis Heller (145), Zach Priebe (125) and Kaleb Rahoi (135) should help bring some stability to the team.
Photo by Lee’s Studio
The 2012-13 Escanaba Eskymos wrestling team includes: back row, from left; Head Coach Jamie Segorski, Cory Chenier, Hugh Theut, Ryan Timler, Sean Bissell, Brendon Scheunke, Brent Picord, Hunter Sadler, Coach Spear, Coach Keupper, Coach Hanson, middle row; Devin Olsen, Zach Priebe, Kaleb Rahoi, Travis Heller, Corey McInerny, Tyler Adams, Alec Slaga, Teddy Peippo, Kevin Priebe, Mohammed Hoque, Billy Soper, front row; Manager Jordyn VanPortfliet, Jon Hook, Chris Hook, Sergei LaMarche, Trevor Irving, Nick King, Kacie Peterson, Brittinie, Larson, Marlie Gillis, Manager Aubrey Peterson, Manager Elizabeth Lippens.
"We're real tough right now at 125, 130, 135, 140 and 152 and we have a lot of experience through the middle," said Segorski. "At the bottom and on the top end we're very inexperienced. We're as athletic as we've ever been, it's just getting the mat time under their belts."
Voids will need to be filled in the lower and upper weight classes, the latter of which loses Dalton Perron-Spear to graduation.
"Dalton was a fantastic wrestler. He placed sixth in the state of of Michigan last year, which is a great accomplishment. We'll feel the losses from Dalton right down to Tyler Larson and the rest of the guys we lost," said Segorski."
Dec. 6 - at Coleman, Wis.; Dec. 8 - at Bay Port, Wis. Invite; Dec. 13 - at Gladstone; Dec. 15 - at Marquette Challenge; Dec. 20 - at Iron Mountain Super Duals.
Jan. 5 - Escanaba Elks Invite; Jan. 10 - Marquette; Jan. 12 - at Peshtigo, Wis. Invite; Jan. 16 - at Negaunee tri-meet (Negaunee, Kingsford); Jan. 19 - at Marquette U.P. Championships; Jan. 22 - Menominee, Iron Mountain, Negaunee; Jan. 24 - Ishpeming; Jan. 26 - at Gaylord Northern Michigan Wrestling Challenge; Jan. 31 - Gladstone
Feb. 2 - at Kingsford GNC Meet
Segorski listed juniors' Heller, Priebe, Rahoi, Devin Olsen (215) and Derek Krenek (189) as the key returnees.
"Travis Heller was a state place winner in Division-2 last year. He's one of the leaders on the team. I'm not sure where exactly he'll be, but it's going to be 145, 152 or 160 depending on what our needs happen to be at that time. He has the ability to go where we need him to go and he's as tough as they come," said Segorski.
"We're really excited about Kaleb as well. He's wrestling really well right now and should be right in the mix."
Other returnees include juniors Marlie Gillis and Brittnie Larson and sophomore Tyler Adams (130).
New to the program is sophomore multi-sport athlete Sean Bissell.
"Sean is fantastic. He's a great football player and a great addition to our team," said Segoriski. "He's someone I've kind of been after for a couple of years. To get him to walk through the door is great because he fit right in."
Segorski also has a few kids returning after being away from the program for a year in Alex Slaga, Brandon Scheunke and Bill Soper.
Highlighting the class of of freshmen are; Teddy Peippo and Kevin Priebe who are battling it out in the area of 145 pounds, Trevor Irving at 112 to 119 pounds and twins' Chris and John Hook, who will each come in between 103-119.
The Eskymos have won U.P. titles each of the past three seasons but Segorski said the focus this year is rebuilding to reach a high level as a team.
"We're always shooting for loftier goals," he said. "We've been fortunate having been very successful at the U.P. and state district levels. Individually we've competed well at the state level and I hope to push that into more team success in the future.
"With the team we have this year, we'll be competitive, but we'll be very young so we have to be prepared for the mistakes we're going to make. It'll be a fun year, but I think this year is more building for the future."
The team won't likely find many breaks on the schedule. They start off against 3-time defending state of Wisconsin champion, Coleman.
"After that, it's off to Bay Port, Wis. for a 29-team tournament where we'll wrestle Wisconsin Rapids, which is nationally ranked, Ocono Falls and more. It's a loaded tournament," said Segorski. "We go right from there to Gladstone (on Dec. 13) and then right to the Marquette Challenge. We didn't take the easy way out with a young team. We jumped right into the fire and that's good. We're pretty excited."
Segorski said in the U.P. Gladstone and St. Ignace are the teams to beat this year.
"They both have fantastic returning teams. St. Ignace has probably the best individual talent with Galloway Thurston and Joe Ostman - both are returning Division-4 state champions," he said.
"Gladstone is heavy on the seniors, only losing one or two. Anytime you can return a whole lineup, you have the opportunity to be successful.
"Are we going to be great? We'll be inexperienced, but if we can hold it together, we'll be on our way to having a real special team in a couple of years."