Alpena grapplers aim to be more competitive with fuller roster

News Photo by James Andersen The 2017-18 Alpena High wrestling team from left to right is: front row: Kilee Fender, Aiden Chism, Bruno Mucciante, Izaack Patterson, Brady Oliver, Alec Zielaskowski and Wyatt Romero; middle: coach Mike Howard, Rose Cornelius, Heidi Garant, Matt Barrett, Noah Carstens, Bryantt Mitchell, Caleb Mitchell and coach Matt Hepburn; back: Josiah Matuzak, Nate Harbson, Dominique Agar, Noah Connon, Arthur Paad and Darrin Lucaroni.

With better numbers and a fuller lineup, the Alpena High wrestling team is hoping to take some big steps forward this season.

The Wildcats are young, but talented and ready to prove themselves. Any success they’ll have during the 2017-18 season will come with contributions from their entire roster.

” We have some new talent coming in, so we’re starting to bring those numbers and going from there,” Alpena coach Matt Hepburn said. “Instead of us relying on those three or four kids to get the wins, I’m hoping we can get the wins throughout the entire lineup.”

Alpena’s lineup is full except for the 119-pound spot, but Hepburn is hoping to fill that spot as the season goes on. Filling the light weight classes has been a consistent problem for Alpena, but the Wildcats will be able to do that better this season and have just one hole to fill in their lineup rather than the four they had last season.

“We’ve always been missing lightweights, but we have them this year. We’re still missing one lightweight, but we’re hoping someone shows up,” Hepburn said.

At the top of the lineup, Kilee Fender will wrestle at 103 pounds and Bruno Mucciante will wrestle at 112 pounds. Rose Cornelius steps in at 125 pounds, Noah Carstens will wrestle at 130 pounds and Caleb Mitchell will wrestle at 135.

Junior Dominique Agar returns for Alpena at 140 pounds as does Izaack Patterson at 145 pounds. Alec Zielaskowski will wrestle at 152 pounds and Josiah Matuzak returns for Alpena and will wrestle at 160. Darrin Lucaroni rounds out the middle weights at 171 pounds.

Wyatt Romero will wrestle at 189 pounds, Nate Harbson will wrestle at 215 pounds and Noah Connon rounds out the lineup at 285 pounds.

Other wrestlers on the roster include: Aiden Chism, Brady Oliver, Heidi Garant, Matt Barrett, Bryantt Mitchell and Arthur Paad.

Alpena didn’t have any regional qualifiers last season, but Hepburn is hoping that changes this year. Though Alpena graduated several experienced grapplers, Connon, Zielaskowski, Agar, Patterson and Lucaroni all gained postseason experience by wrestling for Alpena in districts.

The Wildcats opened the season with a home meet on Wednesday and will a deeper lineup, the Wildcats are hoping to finish near the top of the Big North Conference.

“Gaylord’s always really tough so they’re going to be a hard one to beat,” Hepburn said. “TC West and us, I’m hoping we’re going to be going back-and-forth for second place.”