LAKEVIEW — After a 16-19 record a year ago the Lakeview Wildcats wrestling program feels like they are on its way up. Lakeview’s coaching staff and wrestlers have high expectations as the season gets underway on Wednesday.
David Blaser returns for his second season as Wildcats’ head coach. Blaser added more experience to his coaching staff with J.J. Johnson, Jake Johnson and Dillon Kern.
“J.J. Johnson and his brother Jake were both standout wrestlers at Rockford and have extensive collegiate experience,” Blaser said. “Dillon Kern is a Central Michigan wrestling letterwinner and was a standout wrestler at Fowler.”
The coaching additions have helped to increase the team’s expectations.
“We have very high expectations for the team,” Blaser said. “Now it’s time to achieve our goals.”
The Wildcats return 13 letterwinners from a year ago including state qualifiers Jordan Betham (160 pounds) and Andrew Hall (130). Both begin the season ranked in the top 10 by michigangrappler.com. Betham placed fourth at 152 pounds in Division 3 last year.
Blaser calls the success of Betham and Hall, “Contagious.”
“With Jordan’s and Andrew’s success last year and their drive to succeed it is contagious and has spread throughout the wrestling room,” he said. “We have a group of extremely hard workers in Joe Main, Gus Ward and Koty Burgess. They are putting in the effort to achieve their personal goals.”
Lakeview features strong senior leadership this year.
“This team has grown together throughout the offseason,” Blaser said. “We have a strong group of seniors and with that comes positive leadership.”
Blaser said the team still needs improvement in every area if they are to reach their goals including a district championship.
“We need to get better in every aspect of wrestling. Last year we gave up a lot of bonus points in key situations,” Blaser said. “We were one match away from a district title. We haven’t forgotten how important it is to wrestle every match from 103 pounds to heavyweight.”
The goal is to improve each week and compete for the CSAA championship. Blaser said the front runners are Chippewa Hills (ranked third in Division 3) and Hesperia (ranked second in Division 4).
“The CSAA is a tough conference, but things change from week to week,” Blaser said. “We are going to tackle this season match by match and focus our game plans for the conference opponents when it gets closer.
“As a whole we want to win the conference. That is the first step toward where we want to be in February and March,” he added.
The Wildcats begin the season Wednesday at Alma. They will participate in the Tri County Invitational on Saturday.