Niles’ wrestlers start season tonight

Published 9:23 am Thursday, December 2, 2004

By By ADAM FISHER / Niles Daily Star
Although his team has 25 returners from last season's 27-4 squad, Niles wrestling coach Bob Galvin is careful about making forecasts for this year.
Galvin is confident, however, that his team has enough talent to hang with the area schools and challenge its mark from a season ago.
The Vikings have a team of about 48 wrestlers, Galvin said, 25 of which have varsity experience. Not all returners are letter-winners. However, Niles lost eight seniors from a team that lost to Lakeshore in the district finals.
The Vikings first chance to see how well they can compete this year comes Thursday, when Niles travels to Delton Kellogg for a double-dual meet with Mattawan and the host Panthers. Niles beat Delton Kellogg last season, but Galvin said its an entirely new year, so last season's victory means nothing.
An even bigger test comes Saturday when the Vikings host the Niles Invitational, something the team looks forward to. Galvin said the home tournament is an important one, but some schools have been forced to drop the invitational from their schedules because of budget cuts and mileage restrictions.
Saturday's tournament will feature Niles, Buchanan, Benton Harbor, Sturgis and Mendon. It will be missing, among other schools, Grand Rapids West Catholic, who had to drop the invitational. Galvin said he was particularly disappointed to see West Catholic go because he coached the Falcons' wrestling team for 14 years.
The date the Vikings have circled on their calendar is Dec. 16, when Niles heads to Lakeshore for a dual meet. Though it's early in the season, the Big 16 battle is significant because of ill feelings the Vikings might have against the Lancers. Three of Niles' four losses last season came against Lakeshore, including a 33-29 setback in the district finals.
In Thursday's meet, Niles will be led by senior Josh Henry. At 189 pounds, Henry was the top individual wrestler for the Vikings last season. He was a regional qualifier for the Vikings.
Thursday and Saturday will offer good tests for the Vikings, who Galvin said are still trying to get all their wrestlers in the right weight classes where they can be most effective.