By Chris Chaney
The Milford wrestling team hasn’t peaked yet, according to head coach Pete Babinec, which is a good sign for Eagles’ fans, but a bad omen for wrestlers who will see the red and white in their bracket come sectional tournament time in two weeks.
“Team-wise we’ve probably had our best year,” Babinec said. “For this group of seniors that we have, it’s been their best year.
“I don’t think we’ve peaked yet. We’ve geared our practices and gameplan to peak over these next three weeks with sectionals, districts and state. We’re going to need the two week (break) to get there, but the team has responded to everything we’ve asked them and the next two weeks should be no exception.”
Babinec said that his squad has been known as a solid dual team, but one that doesn’t perform as well in tournament settings. However, the Eagles debunked that thought by winning their home tournament, the Milford Invitational, last week on senior night.
“The comment I heard specifically from Jack Noll and I think he speaks for all (the seniors) was that it was the perfect way to go out,” Babinec said. “To win the tournament in front of the home crowd on senior night — Jack Noll also won the Outstanding Wrestler award — gave the kids some satisfaction in the effort that they’ve put in throughout the years.”
Noll, a senior wrestling at 160 pounds, is just one of five seniors on the Eagles’ roster who have led the team to an exceptional season in 2014. Alongside Jake Ashcraft, Nick Brooksbank, Parker Clous and Randy Bronough, Noll has aspirations of making a run upstate to extend his senior season.
“(Brooksbank) has really been the spark for our dual meets,” Babinec explained. “When it comes to spirit, he really likes to get the team pumped up. Ashcraft is only a second-year wrestler and has over 20 wins this season.
“Last year we didn’t have one wrestler with a winning record and this year we’ve got four of them with more than 20 wins.”
Noll, junior Trevor Worley and freshman Jimmy Murphy also have accumulated over 20 wins for Babinec’s squad. The coach said that beginning with that quartet, there are any number of Milford wrestlers who can represent the Eagles past the sectional tournament.
“I think you have to start with those four guys,” he said. “But you can’t count anyone out at this point in the year. It’s the guy who shows up and wrestles hard for six minutes who moves on.
“I always tell the guys that they don’t have to be the best wrestler out there, they just need to wrestle better for six minutes. There’s always going to be a darkhorse who steps up that you didn’t expect.”
With their tournament season behind them, the Eagles finished third in the Eastern Cincinnati Conference Tournament behind league champions Loveland and runners-up Glen Este.
The Eagles are now working on getting the most out of their work over the next two weeks with nothing but practice and conditioning on their schedule until Friday, Feb. 14 when they begin their individual marches upstate at Hamilton High School.
Six minutes at a time.