Roscommon Looking to Break Through This Postseason
ROSCOMMON – As the Roscommon wrestling program wrapped up its 13th Jack Pine Conference championship on Saturday, it did so under the direction of a first-year coach.
A 2012 Roscommon graduate, coach Matt Morley led the Bucks to four state quarterfinals during his prep career and previously worked as a program assistant.
"He’s been around all of my high school career,” said senior Tommy Tiepel, who is ranked seventh at 285 pounds. “He’s just the coach that stepped up for the head coaching job when it came free, and he’s been doing a great job."
Faced with a shortage of wrestlers prior to the start of the season, Morley’s first task as coach was to drum up interest in the program.
"Once we had the kids scour the school trying to fill weight classes, we ended up pulling some kids in, and turning them into athletes,” Morley said. “We definitely count on them as much as we count on our four-year veterans."
"We weren’t very assured that we were going to do very good at the beginning, but we’ve surprised everybody,” added senior Gabe Stern. “We’ve come out and won some matches.
"I feel like now that we’ve filled out our roster a little more, we’re wrestling better as a team."
Now with an equal distribution of wrestlers, the Bucks have four athletes ranked individually in the state and are turning their attention to being in the best shape as possible as the state postseason commences this week.
"The biggest focus is on cardio, technique, and trying to just make us the best that we can,” said junior Brenden Spencer, who is ranked third at 112 pounds.
Winners of five Division 3 district titles and two regional titles since 2011, the Bucks are eyeing their first trip to the state quarterfinals since making consecutive appearances in 2011 and 2012.
"Our biggest goal, obviously, is to go to states this year,” Morley said. “We have the potential to go to states and definitely make some noise down there."
With one team runner-up finish to its credit (Division 3, 2006), Roscommon likes its chances of reaching the state finals this year, as the Bucks dropped from Division 3 to Division 4.
"It would be nice. We’d prove a lot of people wrong,” Stern said. “We’d show that we really had the ability to, even though we’re lacking numbers and our lack of experienced wrestlers. It’d be nice to show that we’re up."
Roscommon hosts a four-team Division 4 district Wednesday. The Bucks open with a semifinal match against league rival Houghton Lake.