The end of February the Lowell High School (LHS) wrestling team won at the state level for the sixth year in a row, placing Lowell in the history books. No school has ever won six consecutive state titles and the team is set up nicely to compete for a seventh.
A Strong History
LHS wrestling has a long history of success. The team has come out on top winning conference, district and regional titles as well as claiming the runner-up state title prior their run at consecutive state titles. Current head coach R.J. Boudro has been in the position since 2014 but has had a role in the program for the past 12 years. He met former head coach Dave Dean while wrestling at Michigan State. He also wrestled in high school and part of his college time at University of Michigan prior to switching to State. The two worked together for years at Lowell, building a prosperous team before Dean moved on to coach at the college level.
Boudro contributes the team’s success to its deep roster, retention of wrestlers, youth program, and of course coaches and parent volunteers. He feels the team has created a “little microcosm of life” saying, “Wrestling is not life or death.” It’s about creating relationships and a second family for the young men under his direction. He feels the best part of being part of the team is creating lifelong relationships with students and their families. Boudro also works as a counselor at the high school.
View from the Team
Senior Avry Mutschler has been wrestling since he was four years old. “Anybody can be good at it” says the athlete who competes in the 140 pound weight class. He says while the sport takes a lot of practice, that as long as someone has an interest, skills can be taught. He’s thankful to the Lowell community for the support of the team. In the fall he will be attending Kent State in Ohio studying business management and continuing his wrestling career.
Austin Boone, LHS junior, has been wrestling since first grade after his dad asked if he’d like to try it out. Growing up with brothers who were all active also helped with the sport “coming naturally” according to Boone. He enjoyed the more playful aspect of the sport in his youth, but has enjoyed his time on the high school team. While he has one more year on the Lowell team, he smiles thinking about having to wait until college to meet up with rival Kevon Davenport who is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central. The two have swapped wins over the years, with Boone citing his losses as being hard to take but fuel to continue work to “get him the next time”.
Jeff Leach’s stepdad is on the wrestling hall of fame at the high school, listed as the first state champion. This inspired Leach, who has wrestled all four of his years in high school after starting the sport at the age of nine. “It’s not boring.” he says of the sport, encouraging those who aren’t familiar with what happens at meets to check one out. He says there’s something new at each competition. And like his teammates, he also enjoys the family aspect of the team. It came down to Leach’s final match to bring home the win at the state championship. He’ll continue wrestling at Olivet College in the fall.
Sophomore Brady Musser was part of this year’s junior varsity team after competing as a freshman last year. He began wrestling in 8th grade not knowing what it would bring. He echos the idea of being around coaches and teammates as being a positive experience, calling them a second family. Musser refers to “training days” as the most challenging part of being on the team. “These happen one day a week and are extremely hard practices. They give us the endurance and fight to get through a match.” he says. Excited to be part of the team’s history, he’s looking forward to competing again next year as the team looks for a seventh title in a row.
Opportunities for All Ages
Coach Boudro says there’s no particular age when someone should start wrestling to be good or be able to be part of the team. There have been exchange students who have joined the team for the year they attended LHS and have been able to compete. With a continually strong group of leaders, younger athletes have peers to look up to and learn from, in turn taking on that same role as seniors graduate.
Lowell offers a strong youth program with skill level opportunities for novice, experienced youth, and mighty arrows with approximately 150 participants across the three levels. Middle school students also have an opportunity to become involved in wrestling. Summer camps are also available through Lowell Area Schools. Boudro also travels to St. Ignace for a camp in June with his team.
Looking Ahead to Fall
Wrestling, as in all sports at LHS, isn’t merely about the sport. There’s an academic focus as well. The Lowell wrestling team was named 1st team Academic All State for the 13th year in a row after posting a 3.844 team GPA. The team GPA is computed using the top 14 GPAs of student athletes that have competed in at least 4 varsity events. “This very special accomplishment does not happen without great leadership starting at a very young age. I am lucky to work and live in such a great community.”said Boudro in an email sent out to district employees. This year’s top 14 athletes are Doak Dean, Josh Meier, Derek Mohr, Luke Skinner, Keegan Nugent, Will Link, Jacob Lee, James Fotis, James Link, Nate Cleaver, Jacob Hough, Ramsy Mutschler, Allexis Gonzales, and Jared Hough.
The wrestling season is winding down for another year. Some of the athletes are moving on to other sports, yet many of them will still keep in touch and hang out during the off-season. Those unfamiliar with wrestling are encouraged to take in a match in the fall. Students of any age who are interested in checking out the sport can sign up for a summer camp or youth program in the fall.
Congratulations to the Lowell High School wrestling team on their accomplishments this season!
Photos unless otherwise indicated are compliments of Nikki Jankowski and used with permission.