Niles wrestling teams prepares for state tournament

NILES, Mich. (WNDU) - The Niles wrestling team is gearing up for the state championships this coming weekend.

Head coach Todd Hesson has led his team to the state tournament in five of the last 12 years.

A couple of weeks ago, the team started playing dodgeball for the first half-hour of every practice, and they haven't lost since.

The team says they've been underdogs all year, so they make sure to stay loose before every practice by embodying the five D's of dodgeball: dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.

After a disappointing end to last season, the Vikings say this team has it all.

“We've got a lot of balance and we don't have anybody that I would consider like a superstar type of wrestler,” Hesson said. “We just have a lot of kids who will go out there and work hard. Again, from 103 all the way to heavyweight, we've got a pretty good balance going with our team.”

“You kind of count on everybody to hold their own out there, instead of focusing on a couple of good wrestlers to make up for everybody else,” senior Cole Simpson said.

The Vikings say they are soaking this moment all in and not taking anything for granted.

“None of us kind of look at it as, 'Oh, my gosh, this is going to be the last time out on the mat,'” senior Cade Best said. “We just kind of go out there and look at it as we've got a job to do and we've got to get our job done in order to put on a show and make everybody happy.”

“It should be really good,” senior Dawson Bruckner said. “I'm just excited to spend time with them, even if we don't achieve what we really want to. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“You have your hopes up high, but at the same time, you know some things aren't going to go the way that you want,” junior Javond Ball said. “So, you just got to go out there and have fun knowing that this is some of your last time with some of these kids on the team.”

The Vikings will head to Kalamazoo for the state tournament on Friday with the hopes of making it to the team final Saturday afternoon.

The individual state tournament is next weekend.