Winter sports on track to start (for now)

In front, from the left, Blake Daneen Luke Acton and Zach Barrows. In back are Coach J.R. Lafnear, Collin Massie, Justin Sisson, Tony Verbeke, Justin Powell and Coach Steve Burgess from the 2019-20 school year. Photo provided.

By Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
With the calendar flipping to November, we are nearing the beginning of the winter sports seasons at Oxford High School.
While there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding fall athletic activities because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) confirmed during their October 22 meeting winter sports will begin on time and play their full schedules.
Here is a quick look at some of the Wildcats’ winter athletic teams and information for students who are interested in participating.
Boys’ basketball
The boys’ basketball program will hold a player meeting for those interested in trying out at 3 p.m. on Friday, in the Media Center.
Tryouts will be over a two-day period, November 16-17, in the Ian Smith Gymnasium.
Freshman tryouts will take place from 3:15-5 p.m., followed by junior varsity from 5-7 p.m., and varsity from 7-9 p.m.
Coached by Oxford graduate Steve Laidlaw, who is entering his 12th season, making him the longest-tenured head coach in school history, the 2019-20 Wildcats finished 10-11 overall (4-8 Oakland Activities Association White Division), falling to the Clarkston Wolves in the district semifinals.
This season, Oxford will compete in the OAA Blue, along with the Berkley Bears, Birmingham Seaholm Maples, Lake Orion Dragons and Troy Athens Red Hawks.
Boys’ swimming and diving
The swimming and diving program does not hold tryouts, any interested student can join the team. Official practice for the team will begin on November 23 at 3 p.m., with the first in-water practice coming one week later, November 30.
Jacquelyn “Jackie” Rank, who also serves as the head coach of the girls’ swimming and diving team during the fall, is the only head coach the boys’ program has known since its inception in 2009.
After competing in the OAA Red in 2019-20, the team will move back to the White Division this winter, joining Berkley, Lake Orion, the Rochester Falcons, Rochester Adams Highlanders, Royal Oak Ravens, and Troy Colts.
Boys’ and girls’ bowling
Like Rank with the boys’ swimming and diving team, J.R. Lafnear, who was inducted into the Michigan Bowling Coaches Hall of Fame in 2017 and serves as the play-by-play voice for Wildcat football on Oxford Community Television (OCTV), has been the head coach of the bowling program for the duration of its history.
The program was established in the 2005-06 school year, making this winter his 16th season.
An informational meeting for parents and students will be at Collier Lanes, located at 879 S. Lapeer Road, on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Competitive cheerleading
The competitive cheerleading program will have a Zoom video parent meeting on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for those interested in trying out. Information on how to access this meeting is available on the Oxford Athletics website,
Tryouts will be next Monday and Tuesday; times, however, have yet to be posted. Embarking on the third year of her second stint as head coach, Alanna Weber runs the program, with Kelly Westbrook serving as her assistant coach.
Girls’ basketball
Girls’ basketball tryouts are next Monday and Tuesday, November 9-10.
In the Ian Smith Gymnasium, freshman and junior varsity tryouts will be from 3:15-5:30 p.m., with the varsity coming immediately after, 5:30-7 p.m.
Head coach Rachel Bryer is set to begin her fifth year at the helm of the program. In 2019-20, the team posted a 6-15 (2-10 OAA White) mark, losing to Rochester Adams in the district quarterfinals.
Like the boys’ team, the Oxford girls’ program will compete in the OAA Blue this winter, joining the Avondale Yellow Jackets, Berkley, Lake Orion, Rochester, and Troy Athens.
The hockey program, who combines their forces with Avondale to form Oxford-Avondale United, had their tryouts at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills this week.
A member of the OAA White and ran by third-year head coach Derek Billis, Oxford-Avondale United is set to roster 23 players, including 11 seniors, meaning the team will have plenty of experience returning.
The reigning OAA Red and MHSAA District champions, the Wildcat wrestling program is coached by Ross Wingert, who is entering his fourth season. Set to begin practice on November 16, the team will be joined in the Red by Clarkston, Lake Orion, Rochester, Rochester Adams, and the Stoney Creek Cougars.

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