Wrestling is For Real

Wrestling will be added as a varsity sport at HFC next season. The news added to the excitement of this year’s National Collegiate Wrestling Association Fall Brawl Tournament hosted by HFC on November 1. Hawks wrestling has had plenty of success as a club team over the past two years, with six national qualifiers in its first season, and seven of them last season. All of this has occurred under the leadership of head coach Grant Mackenzie, who has been voted Coach of the Year for the Great Lakes Region for two years in a row.

The stands were packed and there was non-stop action throughout the tournament. The Brawl being the first event of the season, coaches and wrestlers were anxious but eager. The event brought in wrestlers from colleges all over the area including club teams from the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, and Michigan State University. Others involved were the University of Toledo, University of Akron, Saginaw Valley State University, and U of M Dearborn.

HFC had 10 wrestlers competing in six different weight classes at the event. Half of them finished at least 3rd in their weight class. Four of them had second place finishes, including last year’s National Qualifiers: Austin Koehler at 125 lbs., Cody Stanley at 174 lbs., and Jeff Henderson at 235 lbs. In the 157 lb. weight class, Victor Lindsey also took home second place with an impressive showing. The third place finish came from Brett Quinn in the 141 lb. weight class. Tyler Bridge also placed at 125 lbs., finishing in fourth place. Koehler and Lindsey both led the entire event in pins with three each. The Hawks finished second as a team just behind Grand Valley State University. With plenty of individuals making it to the final rounds for their weight classes, HFC was well represented.

I caught up with Coach McKenzie just before the competition started at Sunday’s Fall Brawl to get his thoughts on the move to varsity. He explained that “… hard work has paid off,” referencing the amount of dedication from him and others that it took to build HFC’s current wrestling program from scratch. I asked him what some of the benefits of this move could be, and he answered that “The more committed wrestler will choose Henry Ford … and it will provide a better opportunity for the many great wrestlers out of Wayne County for somewhere to go.” Other positive aspects of this change are increased funding for the program and the availability of scholarship money for wrestlers.

Coach Mackenzie introduced me to one of his wrestlers, Enrique Casarez, who drives an hour and fifteen minutes from Adrian, MI every day for school at Henry Ford and to be on the club wrestling team. The level of commitment and dedication from the wrestlers, the coach, and everyone else involved in this program is unreal and I can’t wait to see what they can do at the varsity level. The future is bright for the HFC wrestling program.