Four Frankfurt wrestlers advance to MHSAA ’22 Individual State Finals

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CHARLEVOIX – Four out of five Frankfurt wrestlers, including Jared Coxe (first place), Tucker Hubbard (second place), Paige Willman (second place) and Emily Alaimo (eighth place), qualified for the 2022 MHSAA Individual Finals after successful performances at regionals.

“Coxe has lost his mind right now…he’s on a mission,” Panthers coach Jaime Smith said. “Tucker had a great weekend in the Districts, and we knew it would be the same this time around – he was going to see some fierce competition…he was the first to get his ticket to Ford Field.”


Fletcher Anderson, who is 21-7 this season and a first-time wrestler, hasn’t achieved his ultimate goal, but according to Smith, there’s no reason for him to lower the head.

“It was a little disappointing for Fletch; I think he realized when he got there how much it meant,” Smith said. “I think when he lost his first it was hard for him to understand that you’re fighting to stay alive…but it was a big lesson for him.

“I’m delighted to see him have that experience and be able to overcome that next year.”

However, it is important to recognize all that Anderson has accomplished, even though his teammates and coaches have made sure he understands his importance to the team.

“When I went to pick up Fletch, he was already with everyone,” Smith said. “Jared and Tucker were like, ‘Hey, three of us came here, and you always come with us. So they still want him to come to Ford Field. They told him, “You have to see it because you’ll be there next year.”

“That’s exciting.”

To round it all off, Coxe beat Elliot Corrigan (Bark River-Harris), Sam Fry (Charlevoix) and Jaeger Wilson (Ishpeming HS). Meanwhile, Hubbard beat Connor Dalten (Gwinn) and Dawson Delongchamp (Ishpeming HS) before losing to Drew Allgeyer (Bark River-Harris).

Yet Smith’s connection to both grapplers goes far beyond wins and losses.

“They are little brothers to my first team when I took over in rebuilding Frankfurt,” she said. “So when you start to think about it, it comes full circle – for their brothers, Levi Hubbard and Brandon Coxe, who were both on the district championship team and led the way.

“I’ve known Jared and Tucker for a while…they’ve been on the program and we’ve been thrilled with them since they were in college.”

But more importantly, Coxe, who came so close to reaching the next level, put a lot of weight on his shoulders over the loss of Jeffrey Lane, a former wrestler and student at Frankfort High.

Lane, 18, died June 20, 2021.

He and Coxe were close.

“I was a little nervous because there was going to be a lot of pressure in his senior year,” Smith said. “He carries it all around – it means a lot to him, and when we were in the gymnasium in Charlevoix, we remembered how we were there two years ago when Jeffrey punched his ticket to the United States. I wondered whether it was going to feed or distract him.

“It fueled him 100%…to see him hyper-focused; you can’t do anything but stand there and be excited for him.”

On the girls’ side, Willman and Alaimo continue to win games and progress. They will also compete at Ford Field on March 4-5.

“Both my daughters didn’t know they were going to wrestle until the day before practice. I reminded them that the trip was very short…but seeing them do what they did was a day very emotional. The last two days have been extremely emotional, but in all the right ways, thankfully.”

Willman received two byes, beating Makayla Gowell (Manton HS) and losing to Sabrina Naus (Brighton HS), while Alaimo won two out of five matches in the first girls-only regional tournament.

“Her (Willman) match in the semi-finals was huge for her against Gowell. She beat her three times… she went in there, chased her and pinned her. For her, that was her confirmation that I deserved to be here.”

Smith continued: “With Alaimo, we had a great conversation representing Frankfort and going over there; you have to be focused. It’s the resilience that wrestling builds; she went back over there and dominated that girl from Allendale…she put her hand up and was crying before she even reached me.”

Now, Smith’s message to the Panthers is simple.

“We had a great conversation yesterday, and it was congratulations, you made it, the pressure is off – you don’t have to fight to stay alive, and that’s a huge accomplishment,” she said. Explain. “But when we get to it now, we have to open up and fight to win… you’ve made it, but you don’t want to settle, but we also want to respect that the pressure is off because we know the mood going to be overwhelming.

“It’s a pretty nice place. So the most important thing is that the pressure is off; now let’s get to work.”

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