Rangers believe they have shot at City League title

J. Patrick Eaken

        When it comes to the upcoming Toledo City League wrestling meet, don’t count out Northwood. The Rangers think they have a shot at winning it.
        The main issue is that 19th-year coach Nick Encheff has 11 solid wrestlers — he just has no depth beyond that and there are 14 weight classes. Five of the 11 are seniors, and if someone gets hurt, there is no one to replace them.
        “That is the story of our program,” Encheff said, adding that the numbers issue always presents a problem when you have to forfeit weight classes. The good thing is he doesn’t have anyone doubling up at any weight classes, so he can spread the talent around.
        “We would like to believe we will be one of the teams challenging for the league championship,” said Encheff. “I think we have a good chance of placing. We finished second last year and filled a total of nine weight classes, so this year we should fill 10 or 11.
        “Depending on how well they wrestle, I’d like to believe it’s going to be like last year — it’s going to be between us, Bowsher and for sure, Waite. Waite’s the defending champ and I think they fill all 14 weight classes — that would be my guess,” Encheff continued.
        “The way we would have the opportunity is if we get those defending league champions and our runners-up back to the finals. If we can get six or seven kids in the championship finals, we may have the opportunity to win. But forfeiting those three or four weight classes, that is a lot of points that we have to make up. We’ll be working for the falls if the opportunity arises.”
        Northwood already has a dual match win over Bowsher, which beat Waite on Wednesday. To get a league championship his wrestlers still have some learning to do, Encheff says.
        “We watched film last week and we’re really getting nit-picky on technique, conditioning and stopping the little mistakes. If we can stop the little mistakes, the boys have a good chance to wrestle well in the league, sectionals and districts and we’ll have the opportunity to get a couple down to Columbus,” Encheff said.
        Encheff has had success at all levels since he’s been at Northwood in some capacity — Steve Simok won a state championship in 1999. This year, he has seven lettermen returning from last year’s City runner-up team, and that includes returning state qualifier Austin Cole.
        Cole, a senior who wrestles at 220, was a league champion last year who started the season 23-2, but is now 28-4 after losing a couple matches at the Maumee Bay Classic hosted by Clay. Ever year, he continues to show improvement, Encheff says.
        Cole won championships at the Northwood’s Jim Derr Memorial Invitational and the Bucyrus tournament and finished third at the Maumee Bay Classic.
        “The real big thing about Austin is he’s just a real good athlete who has learned to wrestle. As a freshman, because he’s a real good athlete, he got some wins because he was just more athletic than some kids. Last year, he started to learn how to wrestle and got to state and this year he’s progressing on that,” Encheff said.
        The team finished 29th out of 46 teams at the Perrysburg Invitational Tournament, but Cole finished third. The Rangers were 10th of 25 teams at the Northwood Tournament, fourth of 16 at the Bucyrus Tournament, and finished 3-2 at the Mohawk Dual Tournament.
        Wrestling at events like the Maumee Bay Classic and the PIT are good for his wrestlers, Encheff adds, even if they lose a few matches.
        “That’s exactly why we wrestle there — to find out where we are at and to expose our weaknesses and if we get a few weeks to work on them before the most important part of the season,” Encheff said.
        Also returning this year were defending league champs Erik Marazone (195) and Junior Chaisiri (182), both seniors. Marazone was also a district qualifier, but both got off to late starts.
        “They started the season a little late so they are still finding their way back in,” Encheff said. “They didn’t wrestle in our first two events. They are just starting to get their legs under them and get their conditioning going. They both wrestled well at the PIT and the Maumee Bay, but dealing with the level of competition they didn’t win as many as we’d like them to.”
        Senior Joe Miller, a defending league runner-up, is wrestling at 285 and started the season 15-6, winning a championship at Bucyrus and finishing fourth at the Derr Memorial. Senior J.J. Poiry, also a defending league runner-up, started 13-6 and finished third at Bucyrus.
        Other top returning wrestlers include sophomore Braden Alore (183), junior Nate Warfel (132) and junior Hunter Schmoekel (152), who is a league runner-up that transferred from Start.  Warfel placed third at Bucyrus.


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