By Rick Palsgrove
The Groveport Madison Cruiser wrestling program has a long history of championship success dating back to the 1960s. This excellence includes consecutive Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division titles the past two seasons.
“Winning the league the past two years has been an unforgettable experience,” said Cruiser Head Wrestling Coach Brian Brison. “It is always great to be a part of history and when you see the accomplishments get put up on the school’s banner you know you did something special. For me, that’s when it really sets in. During the season I am so focused on achieving daily and weekly goals that the magnitude of the big picture is often forgotten.”
Brison said a lot of credit goes to his assistant coaches, Dale Olney and Layton Mitchell.
“They are amazing people and coaches,” said Brison. “I have been fortunate to work with a lot of wrestlers with great attitudes who have jumped on board immediately with what we are trying to teach. A lot of guys don’t have a lot of experience, but their work ethic has brought them up to speed quickly. Winning a lot of close duals and overcoming adversity has brought our team together. It’s great to see how winning the league is a point of pride and how everyone on the team is proud to be a wrestler, and that being a wrestler is a badge of honor.”
Brison said the team’s main focus this upcoming season is to repeat again as OCC champions.
“We have a lot of wrestlers returning from a year ago, but we have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Brison. “We cannot be happy with where we are, we need to continue to work hard to improve daily.”
Brison said the team has two returning district qualifiers, Jake Nelson and A.J. Joyce.
“Jake finished one win away from state during his freshman year and has his sights set on getting to the state meet this year,” said Brison. “A.J. made it to districts in his first year of wrestling last year. He has worked hard in the weight room and will make major strides this year.”
Brison said Jacob Cline will step up as a senior leader and Muhamad Conteh also stands out as he evolves as a wrestler.
“I am also excited with a number of other prospects and I can’t wait to get them on the mat this year.” said Brison. “The biggest challenge will be getting guys into different weight classes so I can have the best wrestlers on the mat at once.”
Brison said Canal Winchester and New Albany will most likely be the team’s biggest competition this year.
“Canal Winchester has a lot of wrestlers returning from a year ago and had a very solid junior high team last year,” said Brison. “Coach Rosch has done an excellent job of building his program in the past couple of years and it will be interesting to see how they continue to progress.”
Brison said New Albany has a number of accomplished wrestlers that are difficult to match up with.
The Cruisers’ varsity wrestling meets will be held at the new Groveport Madison High School this year.
“Both the Canal Winchester and New Albany duals are home meets for us,” said Brison. “This can be a huge positive because our community very strongly supports our sports teams. Last year we wrestled Newark in our final OCC dual that would determine our league title. The meet was so loud I could hardly hear the person next to me. Our wrestlers definitely fed off of that energy and I think it did have a big impact on the outcome of the meet. I hope as we continue to be successful that the support for our team will continue to grow and we can have a full house for our home events.”
Brison said wrestling can have a positive impact on student athletes.
“Wrestling teaches the importance of hard work, discipline, and a positive attitude,” said Brison. “Students learn they can push themselves to places they never thought they could go and that they are capable of more than they ever thought. A great work ethic is one of the biggest determining factors of success in life. A great work ethic is a byproduct of wrestling. You can’t be a wrestler without one.”
Brison believes that, with the right physical attributes and mindset, he can teach anyone how to wrestle regardless of experience and they can succeed at a high level.
“I am actively looking for wrestlers and trying to encourage people to come out for the team,” said Brison. “I believe if I’ve done my job correctly, students will gain all of the positive aspects from the sport. Students will learn to become leaders. They will have an outstanding work ethic, toughness, character, and gain the ability to persevere.”
The 2018-19 Cruiser varsity wrestling schedule:
•Dec. 1, 8 a.m., at Granville Invitational
•Dec. 8, 10 a.m., at Logan Invitational
•Dec. 15, 9:30 a.m., at Bexley (with 3 other teams)
•Dec. 20, 5 p.m., vs. Hamilton Township (plus 1 other team)
•Jan. 5, 10 a.m., vs. Whitehall (with 7 other teams)
•Jan. 10, 6 p.m., vs. Canal Winchester
•Jan. 17, 6:30 p.m., at Franklin Heights
•Jan. 19, 10 a.m., at Heath Invitational
•Jan. 24, 6 p.m., at Big Walnut
•Jan. 26, 10 a.m., at Miami Trace Invitational
•Feb. 1, 5 p.m., at Logan Elm
•Feb. 7, 6 p.m., vs. New Albany
•Feb. 9, 10 a.m., at Canal Winchester Invitational
•Feb. 14, 6 p.m., at Newark