Pomranka pleased with Brandywine’s progress

Brandywine coach Rex Pomranka (left) was pleased with the way his team progressed this past season. (Leader file photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

Brandywine coach Rex Pomranka (left) was pleased with the way his team progressed this past season. (Leader file photo/KELLY SWEENEY)

MENDON — Rex Pomranka, the veteran head wrestling coach at Brandywine High School, asks his athletes each year to make steady progress and to commit to the sport.

The Bobcats wrapped up the dual portion of the season Wednesday, with a 64-18 loss to No. 3-ranked Decatur in the semifinals of the MHSAA Division 4 Mendon Regional.

Pomranka looked back on the 2015-16 season — his 12th as Brandywine’s head coach — and saw his squad go 29-10 while winning the program’s 11th straight district team title and giving him the 300th victory of his career.

The milestone victory came during BCS Athletic Conference matches in January (the Bobcats beat Cassopolis for 299 and Berrien Springs for 300).

He also saw Brandywine grapplers get better as the season went along.

“I’m proud of them,” Pomranka said. “Everybody on the team made improvement — from our top guys to our newbies.”

One example of a newcomer coming a long way was  freshman Searra Inman (103).

“Earlier in the year, (Decatur freshman Dylan Elmore) stuck her,” Pomranka said after Wednesday’s match. “She came back and went three periods with him.”

Inman scrapped with Elmore in a 21-12 loss that saw the lead see-saw back and forth early on. The two featherweights were tied 9-all going into the second period. The bout ended up being the only one that went the full six minutes between the Bobcats and Raiders.

“She’s been a big surprise and she’s placed at tournaments and beaten guys,” Pomranka said of Inman. “She’s learning everyday and she’s growing (in the sport).”

Winners for Brandywine (29-10) Wednesday were senior Jesse Lochmondy (pin at 135 pounds), freshman Garrett Lerner (pin at 160) and junior Sam Burge (pin at 189).

Lochmondy, who won an individual district title last weekend, scored a quick takedown and two-point near fall before ending his match in 37 seconds.

Lerner trailed 2-0 at the end of the first period and earned a pin in 3:56.

Burge tallied two takedowns and a three-point near fall before getting a fall in 1:48.

“We got better every week, every meet and so on,” Pomranka said. “If we can just carry that through the off-season into next year.”

Graduation will be taking Lochmondy, Nathan Hechtel and Kristian Hertsel. Pomranka expects everybody else on the squad to be back.

“We’ll probably pick up a couple kids walking the hallways that wish they would have came out,” Pomranka. “We did (Wrestling Amateur Athletic Association in Michigan) in the off-season last year and the three kids that did WAAM are all going to (individual) regional this year. Some of them have the best records on the team. Kids who were .500 last year have winning percentages of 70 percent or better. Kids just have to get more mat time.

“We’ve got some young kids that need to improve.”

Pomranka looks for his wrestlers to see plenty of matches and drills through tournaments and camps plus get stronger in the weight room.

“We’re going to make a big commitment,” Pomranka said. “We’re going to challenge kids. Every challenge we had this year, they stepped up to, so I’m hoping that they’ll step up to it in the off-season.”

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