Devin Mahnke remembers his freshman season as an independent wrestler from Beecher.
With no team, Mahnke entered a few tournaments as the lone Bobcat. then superintendent George Obradovich, a Gary native, served as his coach. Still Mahnke made it to the Class 1A meet.
The next year, the program became a co-op with Grant Park High School. Mahnke is grateful for the merger. His sophomore year, he did not make weight, but qualified as a junior, but lost in the first round.
This year, he is 32-0 and favored to win the 182-pound title and become the first Beecher wrestler to win a state title.
"That definitely helped," Mahnke said of the co-op. "It gave me a team and good teammates who work hard in the wrestling room.
"It is a lot better when you have a team and teammates."
Mahnke is not overconfident and is not thinking of a state title as much as he is of just winning.
"Everybody down there can beat you because everybody is that good," Mahnke said. "I just plan to go out and wrestle hard. You also have to wrestle smart."
Mahnke has done that every match this season and would like to finish undefeated, but that is not as much on his mind as wrestling well.
"I am excited to be there, but I want to do well," Mahnke said. "I learned quite a bit from my (other) trips down there.
"I want to finish well."