GREENVILLE — Greenville’s Alec Ward will have the opportunity to continue his wrestling career.
In doing so, Ward will help a new program set the foundation for future success. On Friday, Ward signed to wrestle collegiately for Davenport University in Grand Rapids.
Davenport, which will also add football to its ever growing list of school sponsored sports, will begin wrestling competition this coming school year as a member of the National Collegiate Wrestling Association.
Jamie Boyd was recently hired as the program’s first head coach. And Ward will be an inaugural member of the Panthers’ wrestling program.
“He is an extremely high caliber kid and I’m excited to have him as one of our members on our first team,” Boyd said. “He is the type of kid I want to build a foundation upon. There is, at least another four kids like him that have already signed. Starting a program off on the right foot with those types of kids really builds for the future, as well.”
Ward likes the idea of helping to build a program from the start.
“Coach Boyd contacted me and said Davenport was starting a program,” Ward said. “It was convincing because he said I would be one of the starters of a new program. I thought that would be pretty cool. They are recruiting a lot of good guys and practice partners.”
Boyd graduated from the University of Notre Dame where he wrestled for three seasons until the school discontinued the wrestling program. Following graduation, Boyd wrestled for a season at Central Michigan and began his coaching career there after his career ended.
For Boyd, making sure the Davenport program is built properly and for the long haul is very important.
“I have an extreme personal interest in making sure this program gets going on the right foot,” Boyd said. “I wrestled at the University of Notre Dame and the program was canceled. Having come from a program that has been discontinued I want to make sure a solid program is established.”
Ward had his choice between a few different schools including Eastern Michigan, but chose to stay closer to home.
“Davenport just seemed like a better idea and closer to home,” Ward said. “The schools in Ohio I looked at were small and I didn’t like the area Eastern was in.
“It’s like a weight being lifted off my shoulders having signed,” Ward said. “It was a major decision deciding. I’ve always wanted to wrestle in college.”
Ward will wrestle at either 141 or 149 in college. He wrestled at 140 and 145 his senior season.
A three-time state placer, Ward said he will focus on getting stronger this summer. That will mean not wrestling as much as he has during past summers.
“I will compete in some summer tournaments,” Ward said. “Instead of practicing all the time, I will be lifting a lot of weights to get stronger. It’s a change from other years, but I think it will help.”
When not lifting weights, Ward will be focusing on his offensive game.
“I need to work mostly on my offensive game,” Ward said. “I was pretty good at taking people down in high school, but in college it’s a whole other level. Everyone is good at defense. Everyone can shoot. I need to work on takedowns and riding on top, cause of the riding time.”
Davenport will compete in the Great Lakes Conference against schools like Grand Valley State, Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Cincinnati, Western Michigan and Toledo among others.