RHS sends six wrestlers to state competition, most in school’s history

Senior+Xavier+Byrne+wrestles+Jason+Onwenu+from+West+Bloomfield+in+the+first+round.

Monica Byrne

Senior Xavier Byrne wrestles Jason Onwenu from West Bloomfield in the first round.

RHS sent six wrestlers to the state competition on March 4-5, the most qualifiers in our school’s history, and sophomore Michael Stathakis, who placed highest, coming in fifth in the 170lb weight class and senior Alex Biundo placing 8th.
“There are 14 weight classes in total so having 6 make it, that’s almost half of our team going into states which is something we’ve never done before,” senior Xavier Byrne in the 152lb weight class said.
The state competition is divided into 14 weight classes where the top four from each region go to compete. To get to the state competition, wrestlers first have to be in the top four for their weight class in your district, then top four in your region.
“Usually we have one to three state qualifiers each year. Even if we have three, that’s still a pretty good year,” Byrne said.
Although getting to the competition is an achievement in itself, the real challenge begins on the competition floor at Ford Field, where each wrestler is up against the best of the best from around the state.
“I think the first round is probably the hardest. It’s where you just break the ice of the competition. Once you get past that first round, you get a gauge of everything and get a gauge of the competition but you really gotta set the tone for the rest of the tournament,” sophomore Michael Stathakis said before the competition.
Although the competition is a challenge, injury can be another, which it especially was for senior Alex Biundo.
“I tore my ACL only 5 months ago. It’s a 6 to 9-month injury,” senior Alex Biundo said before the competition.
Following his injury, Biundo couldn’t train for over 4 months. Despite only being able to prepare for one month leading up to the competition, and only one week before districts, he was still able to place 8th in the state for the 140lb weight class.
“I had to change my entire stance, so I’m hitting all my moves on the opposite side just to keep my leg protected,” Biundo said.
Out of the six wrestlers sent to compete, Biundo and Stathakis were the only two to place, with Biundo placing 8th in his weight class and Stathakis placing 5th. As a sophomore, Stathakis is one of the youngest members of the team going to the competition.
“I feel grateful that I’ve made it so early. I would’ve liked to make it last year but I’m happy I made it this year because now I know what it’s like,” Stathakis said.
One of the aspects that adds to the stress of the event is the amount of fanfare surrounding the competition. Instead of being held at a local school, the state competition is held at Ford Field in Detroit.
“The intensity of the tournament being at Ford Field is an experience that not many kids get to experience,” Xavier Byrn said.
Before the event is a parade called the March of Champions where all the contestants march around Ford Field to kick off the event. Getting to participate in the competition takes a lot of effort not just individually, but as a team.
“We’ve all been together since middle school and even the younger guys had a lot of time to catch up. We just wrestle tough,” Biundo said.
Although some on the team are graduating this year, younger wrestlers like Stathakis, are already thinking about next year’s competition.
“Whatever happens this year happens: next year I plan on coming out on top,” Stathakis said.