The Sandcrabs' wrestling team is ready for rapid improvement in the second year under head coach Mike Fries.
Two-time state wrestling champion Mike Fries began his wrestling coaching career last year at Seabreeze High School.
The Sandcrabs, who historically have not had top wrestling teams, saw moderate success in Fries’ first season at the helm. The Sandcrabs went 16-6 during the dual season. And despite competing in Region 4, dubbed by many as the “Region of Doom,” Seabreeze qualified six wrestlers for the regional tournament, and the Sandcrabs’ Victor Lipsey advanced to the state tournament.
“The kids worked hard and improved,” Fries said. “They exceeded the expectations that I had for my first year.”
Last season was more of a building season, Fries added. He took the opportunity to teach them fundamentals, technique and so on.
He expects more from his grapplers this year, however.
“Now, we’re in training mode,” he said. “They know what they’re expected to do, they know the moves and I think it’s finally starting to click.”
"He just pushes us so much — to work harder and try harder."
BROCK ROBERTS, Seabreeze wrestler
The Sandcrabs, who didn’t have a full roster last season, did not lose anyone to graduation or transfer. Most of the roster, including former junior varsity wrestlers who have been promoted to varsity, is back this season.
Fries’ goals this season are to finish top three in the district, finish high at regionals and qualify as many as six boys for the state tournament. He said about nine of his wrestlers have state-potential, including Lipsey, Brock Roberts, Kobe Baret, Nick Crossman and Joseph Kent, among others.
Lipsey, a senior, is the clear leader, though.
Last year under Fries was a unique experience for the Sandcrabs’ top grappler.
“Coach Fries just puts all of his effort into being a coach,” Lipsey said. “He’s been kind of our guardian angel. It feels like we have big shoes to fill because you want to be like him. We look up to him.”