Onaway sent two wrestlers to the Palace of Auburn Hills last weekend. Senior Joe Traynham and junior Zeke Nave competed at the finals. Traynham finished fourth at 112 pounds to cap off a stellar career and Nave went 1-2 at 125 pounds.
“Isaac (Zeke) and Joe are incredible people. They are as solid in character and leadership as any man I have worked with while setting the bar high for those who will follow. As a coach they spoiled me because I seldom had to worry about things getting done to my high expectations, they just made it happen. I constantly refer to the example they set for the younger athletes and how fortunate those kids are to have these two to look up to. They were even thoughtful enough to be a grade level apart so that I did not lose both of them in the same season! Isaac will be back to lead this team next year and I look forward to him and the rest of the group who will be returning next season. With any luck I will have a talented group of freshmen to join them in the room to help chisel out another season on the mats,” said coach Mark Grant.
Traynham started off the tournament with a 14-1 victory over sophomore Trey Shafer of Reading. He then defeated Connor Krupp, a sophomore from New Lothrop, 9-5 to advance to the state semifinals.
In the semifinals he took on Robert LeFevre, a sophomore from Erie Mason, and fell 5-3. LeFevre would go on to finish as the state runner up.
“Traynham finished his career on the podium finishing fourth at the finals with a season record of 46-5. Coming off his state title run our goal was to win it again and he did everything he could to get that done, 112 was as tough this year as I have ever seen it and once again proved that the website where rankings are published just can’t predict who’s weekend it is going to be,” said coach Grant.
The loss dropped Traynham to the consolation bracket where he defeated sophomore Jeremiah Durian of Bloomingdale 7-5 to advance to the match for third place.
In the final match of his high school career Traynham took on Brendan Abrigo, a senior from Manchester, and fell 9-4 to finish fourth and earn all-state honors.
Nave started the tournament with a tough draw, taking on Dallas O’Green of Carson City Crystal, a highly rated wrestler all season. Nave fell 9-1 and O’Green would go on to win the state title to cap off a great junior season during which he suffered only one loss, in the regional final to Clay Ragon of Dansville. He avenged that loss with a 2-0 victory in the state championship match.
“Nave finished his junior year qualifying for the state finals for a third year. Although this year he did not make it to
the podium, he finished with a win and dropped a close match in the all-state round. Isaac found himself with what proved to be the toughest first round match of the tournament when he wrestled the eventual champion Dallas O’Green of Carson City Crystal. He bounced back with a solid win in the second round before he was eliminated in round 4. He will be back to lead the team next year as he prepares to make yet another run at the podium down in Auburn Hills,” said coach Grant.
Nave then moved to the consolation bracket where he defeated sophomore Tyler Teague of Springport 10-4. Up next was a match against a familiar foe, Jimmy Spencer of Rudyard. The winner would move on to get all state honors.
Nave and Spencer battled it out and when the final horn blew it was Spencer taking the 3-1 victory, he would go on to finish sixth. Nave finished the season with a record of 40-9.
With another season in the books, coach Grant has to say goodbye to another group of seniors, one of whom has really touched him.
“As for Joe, he leaves a massive hole in our line-up and our hearts. I could fill the paper front page to back page with all of the positive qualities this young man possesses. He is widely known for his abilities on the mat but equally known for his quality of character off the mat. I would love to have a dime for every positive comment a coach or opposing athlete has made about him over the past four years. A fearless competitor never afraid to seek out the toughest kids, Joe was excited to step on the line against kids who were capable of beating him simply because he loved the challenge.”
“He never really seemed to worry about winning and losing as he completely bought in to the idea of competition being just another chance to get better. In the practice room he is constantly setting the pace and calling out those who he felt could give more in an effort to push them beyond their own limits, making them better athletes. Joe has had a fantastic wrestling career that did not start until his 8th grade year and he will take away from this a deep level of understanding about the struggles of life and how to persevere, re-evaluate, and be successful.”
“I feel like I am saying goodbye to my own son. That will happen all too soon and leave it to Joe to give me a practice run at that. I am so very proud of him and thankful for all he has done for my other son, Matthew, and Onaway wrestling just by being ‘Joe’,” said coach Grant.