EAST LANSING – By design, Steve Delaney wanted to make things tougher for his Grand Ledge wrestling team this season.
The Comet coach put in place a rigorous schedule that featured tests against some top schools and wrestlers with the hopes of it preparing his team for the latter stages of the season.
And those tests have led to some strong recent results for Grand Ledge.
After winning the CAAC Blue tournament for a third straight season over the weekend, the Comets kicked off the team state tournament by rolling to a 70-12 victory over Everett in a Division 1 district championship match Wednesday evening at East Lansing High School.
The district title was the second straight captured for Grand Ledge.
“We stepped up the difficulty of the tournaments that we went to,” said Grand Ledge senior Nic Lloyd. “Coach wanted us to face the best teams in the state this year and it has made us better.”
Senior captain Cole Janes agreed.
“We’ve been through some rough times but we have really remained positive,” Janes said.
Grand Ledge, which advances to a Division 1 regional at Holt next week, wants to build on what it accomplished last season when it made a run to the Division 1 team state quarterfinals at Central Michigan University. Delaney believes the Comets can compete with anyone and possibly send five or more wrestlers to the individual state finals.
“Things are starting to come together at the right time,” Delaney said. “I think the hard schedule is really starting to pay off because we are going into our late-season tournaments and we are having huge success.”
The Comets have been led by seven seniors and Delaney credits the excellent leadership ability of this group for some of the team’s success so far. Seniors Lloyd, Janes and Jack Snauko are all ranked in the top 10 in the state in their respective weight classes.
“I need to win to show the guys that this is what we have to do,” Lloyd said. “We lead in the practice room and on the mat by them witnessing the winning culture of the captains, so they can strive to be that themselves.”
Grand Ledge reached the district final with a 72-6 victory over Okemos, while Everett posted a 48-26 win over East Lansing in the other semifinal.