The 2017-2018 Olivet College wrestling team has embarked on its mission to finish an eighth straight year in the Top 25 in the nation in its quest for a national championship.
The team is coached by Brandon Brissette, who enters his ninth second season as the coach of the wrestling program at Olivet College. The previous seven seasons under Brissette have seen the Comets place in the Top 25 at the conclusion of the regular season. The previous season saw the Comets finish ranked at 11 in the nation and had one wrestler, junior Davon Jackson, earn All-American status and finish eighth in the nation in the 165-pound weight class.
The Comets, with 25 new wrestlers this year, will look to keep improving, with an end goal of a national championship in Division III wrestling.
“The program has for the past seven years ended the year ranked in the Top 25 in the country as a team. In that time, we lost so many guys from the varsity lineup, and then the next year a whole new crop comes up and that’s just what we come to expect,” Brissette said of the team’s expectations. “I would imagine that like any other year, it is going to be getting the guys to jell. The guys that need to lead, step up and be leaders, and the new guys to add that spark plug and that fight to keep up that level to where it is currently and even raise it up higher.”
The team is highlighted by many fresh faces according to Brissette, which should make for a good mix for the Comets in addition to the returners already familiar with the program.
“We have already given guys opportunities to shine and some of them have already taken that opportunity and have stepped up. With 25 new faces between freshmen and some transfers all fighting for spots,” Brissette said of the recruiting class. “We want to be patient and we have things we want to do and develop when a kid comes into our program as a student-athlete. We want to be patient with that and also want to tell them no job is safe. You attack, and you go for it and I think we will see multiple guys getting opportunities at the varsity level both in tournaments and duals to really shine this year.”
Two of the key returners for the Comets this year will be senior Jared Brickley and junior Tyler Grimsley. The two are the only returning wrestlers from last season who qualified for the 2016 Division III National Championships. Brickley is a captain on this year’s squad and looks to big things in his final season on the mat.
“The one thing I truly look forward to is simply being able to fight alongside my brothers and represent the OWC [Olivet Wrestling Comets] the best way possible,” Brickley said. “As a captain this year, I figured that we as a team have a lot of maturing to do. We are a really young team and lost a lot of seniors last season. This year, I believe getting our team to mature is my main goal as a captain this year.”
“I am looking forward to showing everyone how hard we work in the practice room and seeing how everyone does come the end of the season when we enter regionals,” Grimsley said of his outlook for the season. “I am hoping we can get all 10 wrestlers through regionals. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but if everyone wrestles their best effort come regionals, I believe everyone has a good shot at making it to nationals.”
The Comets’ first match of the season was on Nov. 11 at the Trine University Invitational in Angola, Indiana. The Comets as a team placed third out of 11 teams in the tournament with a score of 86.0, highlighted with a Grimsley first place win in the 165-pound bracket. Brickley finished third in the 125-pound bracket, senior Ryan Clark finished second in the 184-pound bracket, and freshman Ethan May had an impressive collegiate debut with a second-place finish in the 141-pound bracket.
The first home match of the season is tomorrow at 10 a.m. inside the Cutler Event Center for the 2017 Olivet College Comet Duals. For the full 2017-2018 Olivet College wrestling schedule, go to www.olivetcomets.com.