Hawks Wrestling Update
The Hawks wrestling team hopes to become a full-fledged intercollegiate team next year. HFC wrestling coach Grant Mackenzie explained that the budget wasn’t available this year to become an intercollegiate team.
Mackenzie says, “Top priority will always be postseason performance and national recognition. In other words, our mission is to produce national qualifiers, All-Americans and national champions.”
To help make that happen, “We need to recruit 20-30 wrestlers and try to mold them and make them good (athletes). The more players we have, the better the team could be,” Mackenzie states.
Last April, the board did not approve the Hawks Wrestling budget, forcing them to remain a club sport for one more season (2016-17) and then elevate to an intercollegiate sport in 2017-18. In explaining the process of transitioning from a club to an intercollegiate sport, Mackenzie says, “There really isn’t a process. We started a club team with pay to play athletes and instantly had success in our division. Initially, we started this to provide an opportunity that hasn’t been offered in Wayne County in over 30 years.”
Mackenzie is quick to name the star wrestlers on his team and discuss their goals. “We have Jeffrey Henderson, who is our returning All-American--4th Place NCWA--and his goal is to win a national title. We also have Austin Koehler, who is a returning two-time national qualifier, and his goal is to become an All-American.”
Mackenzie would go on to say “I honestly feel like coaching an intercollegiate sport will make certain headaches and obstacles disappear that we struggled with as a club sport. It will be easier to recruit and retain certain dedicated and committed student athletes being in the NJCAA.”
Mackenzie says the team would have a full travel schedule, which is a lot different than what they had as a club. The team believes they can compete with the best that other schools have to offer. Grant said, “The Athletic Department made a wise choice adopting the club because it gets more people involved and gives athletes a chance to go out and prove themselves.”
In preparation for next year when they become a part of an intercollegiate team, “We just need to work hard and practice and make sure we are ready for next year because I do believe we have some really good players who are ready, but until then we just have to wait and see” MacKenzie states.