Among that large group are two very large grapplers — heavyweights Chris Hendricks and Kylan Sherman.
It’s a rarity for a school to have one elite heavyweight — let alone two.
“It helps having a good coach, and Craig (Steward) and everyone that works with us,” Hendricks said, also citing assistant coach Gary Meister as one of his practice partners. “We know what each other does, so we have to practice new things when we practice together.”
The duo ended up facing each other in individual regionals, with Hendricks coming out on top via a pin on his path to the championship. Sherman recovered to take fourth, guaranteeing him a spot in the state finals.
“When we looked at the bracket we saw that was going to happen if we both won out,” Hendricks said. “We just kind of looked at each other, smiled and messed around for a while out on the mat.”
Sherman said it was a bizarre experience, especially with the increased number of spectators watching the match.
“It was weird because it felt like practice, but it wasn’t; it actually meant something,” Sherman said.
The junior, who came back to the team after not wrestling his sophomore year, said that the senior Hendricks has helped his development.
“At first it was discouraging because it was like ‘What do I do? I can’t really do anything,’” Sherman said of practicing against Hendricks. “But after going against him and then kids from other schools, I could tell it made me better.”
Hendricks, who is currently ranked No. 2 in his weight class by michigangrappler.com, said he was happy to head to the Palace this season after knee surgery derailed his dreams last year.
“It’s really sweet because they all talked about how cool it was, everyone that went to state last year,” Hendricks said. “Kids I beat placed at state. What I could have done last year is what I need to do this year.
“I haven’t legitimately gotten beaten all year. I don’t think there’s anybody who can beat me if I wrestle the best I can.”
While two elite heavyweights on the same team can be a rare sight, seeing siblings is not. Brothers Collin and Cameron Butler will continue a strong Fruitport wrestling tradition when they hit the mats today.
Austin Fialek and Tommy Marinez will also wrestle at the competition for the Trojans.
To read more of this story, see the print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.