A Look At Michigan City Wrestling
Head Coach: Tony Lombardi, first year
Assistants: Tom Vasbinder, Chris Deutscher
Last year: LaPorte Sectional, fifth place, 137 points.
Key losses: David Taylor (132), Oscar Potts (285; semistate qualifier)
Key returners: Trae Anderson, So. (145), Jerimiah Davis, So.; John Wilcher, Sr.
Outlook: The Wolves were three short of a full lineup for the sectional last year and Lombardi expects to be about six light for tonight’s dual opener. Of the nine underclassmen who wrestled in that meet, three didn’t return, two are hurt and a couple others are unsure about coming back. “We’re trying to get the numbers up,” said Lombardi, who will shake the bushes at a football meeting Thursday. “I’d love to fill the lineup. We’re looking to increase the participation and in order to get the numbers up, we have to have some moderate level of success.” Admittedly, the Wolves are “in deep water” in the powerful Duneland Athletic Conference, but Lombardi said the tournament schedule has been built to allow for some success. Among the 22 boys in the room, over half are starting at square one. “We have to raise our baseline, our wrestling IQ, to give them something they can always revert to,” Lombardi said. “The only way to build that football program was to build a solid, fundamental foundation. Wrestling is no different. You have to be great on your feet, very good defensively, before you’re going to be good offensively. We want to teach them about being good in their stance, their inside ties, hand control. Those are things that may seem rudimentary, but they aren’t. We want to try to keep kids in matches.” Lombardi coached a USA Wrestling National team when he taught in Iowa, where his son Beau is ranked second in the state at 220. Lombardi took over the City program with the stipulation that he can watch his son wrestle this season, so he will be sharing coaching duties with Vasbinder, a long-time staff member, and Deutscher, a former Wolves wrestler, among others. “I’m new here,” Lombardi said. “These guys have taken ownership of the program for a long time and I appreciate all that they do. I’m just feeling my way, trying to listen and observe, seeing where I can contribute. I’m just here to support that, maybe give them some skeleton to build around.”