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Coach pleased with Highland wrestlers’ development

2/16/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

GRANGER — Second-year head coach Alan Fried said he is “really happy” with the direction of the Highland High School wrestling program.

“I started with seven guys on the team last year and now I’ve got about 11,” he said. “We’ve got a dozen coming in next year and a dozen the year after that. So, I am really happy with where we’re going — where we should be going — if we keep it up.”

With the roster still on the small side this season, Fried said Highland hasn’t fared well record-wise in dual meets, but wins and losses have not been the program’s primary focus this year.

“We’re not worried about winning dual meets because there has been a lot of good development among the individual guys,” he said. “They’re doing very well and I have some guys that have beaten people that beat them before. I have seen big, massive improvement in a few of the guys. As a coach, I think I bring options for skills from the common positions that are effective. They take a little longer to master, but they are effective.”

One of the wrestlers from whom Fried said he has seen the most improvement is freshman Johnny Bova.

“He factors greater than he was at the beginning of the year. He has improved drastically because he is focusing on the basics and throwing away all the junk,” the coach said. “Johnny Bova might not make it to districts or state this year, but I try to tell him that I don’t really care about his results right now. I feel like if he stays on the same trend that he’s on, he’s going to be a formidable wrestler.”

According to Fried, two of the team’s best wrestlers, Jake Bryson and Brady Linder, are also freshmen.

“They can win a lot of matches. In fact, they can beat 50 to 60 percent of the guys coming right out of the box as freshmen,” the coach said. “They make a point to the other freshmen and the other guys that you don’t just have to take beatings for your freshmen year, even if you’re on varsity. The message needs to get out to all of Highland’s middle school and youth wrestlers that they can come into their freshman year ready to dominate if possible. Don’t just use your freshman year for some blow-off year where you just accept that you’re going to do poorly.”

Andrew Plevris (152 pounds) is the team captain this season and Fried said he has been happy with what he has seen from the senior.

“He’s my star for this year,” the coach said. “He’s improved like Bova, but he’s already a senior so he’s got some experience. He’s gotten better at the basics, too. He shows up to practice every day, busts his butt, follows everything I say and never complains about anything. He’s one of those types of guys that you’d want a whole team of. In fact, I recently got a call from a college coach about him.”

The other seniors this year, Fried said, are Nathan Polick and Joshua Kedzior.

“You can really see Nate’s improvement from just two to three months ago ... and Kedzior has really come along in the last month or two,” the coach said. “It’s a good way to finish out a high school career as far as giving it all you’ve got.”

Highland will head to the sectional meet Feb. 18, and Fried said he is hoping for a good showing from the team. Following the postseason, the coach said he will be looking for his returning wrestlers to get back to work prepare for next season.

“They need to get back on the mat a couple of weeks after state and start training for freestyle,” he said. “They need to go to four or five freestyle tournaments throughout April and May and June, and try out for Fargo [North Dakota] for the Junior Nationals. After that, it’s all about coming back to the room a couple of times a week and maintaining. That’s all it takes. If you do that for a summer, you’re going to improve a lot.”

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