By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
The final Oxford Wildcat winter student-athletes still competing, sophomores Koen Eberhard and Tate Myre represented the program in the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Division I Individual Wrestling State Finals at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo on April 2.
Eberhard took to the mat at 103 pounds, while Myre, who supporters of Oxford athletics may recognize from his success on the football field for head coach Zach Line, competed at 189.
Myre’s weight class was up first, and he opened his quest with a victory over Mattawan Wildcats junior James Campbell, before falling to a fellow sophomore, the Hartland Eagles’ Chase Kern, in the quarterfinals.
Looking to fight back for a possible third-place finish in the consolation ladder, Myre was eliminated by Davison Cardinals senior Landon Kish.
Myre, whose brother, Ty, is a senior, wraps up his campaign at 25-6. It is important to note, only three of those losses came at 189 pounds, as he spent much of the season wrestling up at 215 to help the team.
As for Eberhard, he dropped his first match to South Lyon Lions freshman Aidan Meyers. In the consolation bracket, he was defeated by Northville Mustangs junior Jonah Koilpillai.
Eberhard concludes his sophomore year at 20-8.
With both these young men having two years of high school remaining, their futures remain bright, and the odds are strong we will see them reach this point again.
On April 1, the day before this action unfolded, The Oxford Leader was able to catch up with the Wildcats’ fourth-year head coach, Ross Wingert, and he shared what has helped make Eberhard and Myre successful in 2020-21.
“Koen puts a lot of time into the sport, it’s sort of his sport, it’s what he does,” Wingert began. “He’s a guy that works with multiple people, he’s in a club, he wrestles for us, he’s always been an Oxford guy.
“So, for us, to be able to have that communication line open, and his dad, Gary, is also on our staff. For him, it’s about simplifying things because he does have a broad wrestling knowledge and he’s done a better job of that as of late, he’s really starting to wrestle more efficiently, he’s capable of so many things. With him, really, the coaching side is to narrow down the most efficient way to achieve our goal.
“Tate Myre, very, very special athlete, there’s no doubt about that. I think he’s sort of one of those ‘next guys’ for Oxford, where, in multiple sports, he works hard enough, and people see that in him where there’s a lot of people expecting him to do well.
“What’s more important than anything about that is Tate is learning how to expect that of himself. It’s a pretty quick change, if you really think about it, where you had a freshman that made it to states in wrestling, he starts as a sophomore at tailback and on defense in football and is chosen to do that by a high-level staff, and he’s learning earlier than most that he needs to expect to win and have success.
“Man, has he really come a long way. This last month has been extremely beneficial for him, he’s spent most of this year being a fantastic teammate in wrestling up at 215, which, that’s quite a jump. When you’re talking about a guy that comes down at 215 to make weight, that could be a 25, 30-pound jump. So, most of his record throughout the regular season was wrestling for the team at an upper weight class. Now, he’s down at his weight class and he’s doing a great job.”
On top of their on-mat accolades, Eberhard and Myre are part of a strong cast of returning wrestlers for Wingert and his staff, a group of student-athletes who will take on more of a leadership role in 2021-22 to help carry on the outstanding tradition of Oxford’s program.
“I think we’ve got a lot of guys that are on the cusp of it,” Wingert said. “When you talk about leadership, there are different ways to do it. What we’re really looking for is, we need that guy that’s going to be our verbal leader. Our common statement that comes out of our staff to our kids is, ‘Good teams are led by good coaches, great teams are led by the athletes.’
“For us to get back to that level, the team needs to be run by the team and I think we have guys that are more than capable of doing that. Our captain this year, Jack Smith, he’s a fantastic leader by example, he does everything that’s asked of him, he does it at a high pace with a lot of care and attention to detail, but we need him to be a little bit more verbal.
“These two (Eberhard and Myre) are both capable of that and we have others, as well, so we’re really excited for the future. We’re going to be young again, in theory, it just seems like that’s the constant rotation, but yet these guys come back, they perform. Something that we always tell them, I do believe that we train to win, we train to be champions, and part of what I mean by that is it’s really easy to as 14, 15, 16-to-18-year-olds to have that ‘this is too tough, I don’t want this, the coaches are being too tough on us, they’re making us work hard every day.’
“Really, what that’s for is when we get into these postseason situations, tough matches during the regular season, so that they’re mentally capable of handling the pressure and the situation at hand. All of them are physically capable, the human body is incredible in what it can do, but whose mind is going to work properly when it matters the most, that’s what it comes down to.”
In addition to Eberhard, Myre, and Smith, who is a junior, the Wildcats are projected to return juniors Kewone Burton, Zach Call, Lukas Lingott, and Sal Vackaro, sophomores Lukas Smith, Elijah Tabert, and Judah Winkelman, and freshmen Charles Campbell, Luke Drautz, Dominic Fazzari, Colin Fidler, and Jack Murray, among others, in 2021-22.
By Teddy Rydquist