FREELAND, Mich. – Five Olivet College wrestlers have earned 2019 All-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) honors. Highlighting this group is senior Tyler Grimsley who was named the MIAA's Most Valuable Wrestler. The other honorees are freshman Reese Wallis, sophomore Cole Hersch, junior Haydn Kinjorski, and senior Jacob Harvey.
The All-MIAA Wrestling team is the top wrestler at each of the 10 weight classes. Any wrestler who had a 3-0 record in the three league dual meets was an automatic selection at his respective weight class. The remaining weight classes, as well as the MVP, were voted on by the league coaches. All five of the Comets were automatic picks.
Under the leadership of 10th-year head coach Brandon Brissette, Olivet captured its 11th MIAA title in school history. The MIAA sponsored wrestling this season for the first time since 1984. Wrestling previously was a league sport from 1968-84. During that span, the Comets won 10 MIAA titles, including nine straight from 1972-80.
"I thought it was extremely important and a cool honor to win the MIAA championship for the first time since 1984," said Brissette. "There is no doubt winning the MIAA title was one of our step goals from the very beginning of the season. The guys on the team talked about it.
"With wrestling finally being recognized as a conference sport, we knew how important it was for the sport that we put on a championship season, but also how we wrestled, the level of wrestling and to have great events. On top of that, our guys knew the tradition of Olivet wrestling. We won the last one in 1984 and then we wanted to be the team starting it off on top when the MIAA brought it back in 2019."
Grimsley was selected at the 165-pound weight class. He was the most dominant wrestler, recording a 23-7 technical fall over Owen Conklin from Trine, and pinning Erik Arnegard from Alma in 4:24 and Zach Altman from Adrian in 3:14.
Grimsley is the fifth Olivet wrestler to be named the MIAA's Most Valuable Wrestler. The other four are Dave Elliott in 1974, Joe Gibbs in 1977, Mark Clem in 1978 and Dan Pantaleo in 1983 and 1984.
"In every dual match, you have to have someone who does something special," said Brissette. "Tyler was that guy for us. His three bonus point wins were either the turning point or nail in the coffin in our three conference dual matches. Tyler is the senior leader who went out there and left it all out on the mat to get bonus points for his team. His wins fired up his teammates and crowd, and put us comfortable in those matches."
Wallis earned the honor at 133 pounds. His three wins were all minor decisions – 7-6 over Dominic Pecoraro from Trine, 5-2 over Chase Beecher from Alma and 8-3 over Elijah Sanchez from Adrian.
"Reese started wire-to-wire as a freshman," said Brissette. "He handled the pressure really well and was able to pull out three wins. As a freshman, that was awesome to be able to rely on someone who could do what he did for us."
Hersch was the 157-pound pick. He pinned Efrain Amezguita from Trine in 2:25, and defeated Jayce Kuehlein from Alma, 5-1, and Ethan Garcia from Adrian, 11-0.
"Cole is one of our pace guys who goes out and puts a hard effort every match," said Brissette. "He scored bonus points in two of the duals which was also huge for us. The pace is also good on the mental side of the duals."
Kinjorski slotted in at the 174-pound weight class. He recorded a 12-5 decision victory over Nick Miller from Trine, and tallied two major decisions, 14-3 over Lucas Brewer from Alma and 14-6 over Derick Duvall from Adrian.
"Haydn is a competitor and loves duals," said Brissette. "He uses his high energy and explosiveness to make some big moves that gets the crowd excited."
Harvey had a 3-0 record to earn the spot in the 197-pound weight class. He posted a 10-2 major decision over Austin Farrell from Trine, and then won two close decisions, 5-3 in sudden victory over Austin Popp from Alma and 3-1 over Zach Reynolds from Adrian.
"Jacob was out of our lineup for two years because of injuries," said Brissette. "He stepped in and was our 'cool as a cucumber' guy. Jacob was in some tightest matches and kept a calm and moving-forward presence to get us three wins at a much-need weight."
The Comets return to the mat Friday and Saturday, Feb. 22-23, when they compete at the 2019 NCAA Division III Central Regional. Wabash (Ind.) College is the host school. The top three wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the 2019 NCAA DIII Championships March 8-9 in Roanoke, Virginia.