MUSKEGON — The Whitehall Vikings look at Travis Friend as something of a bellwether for how their matches will go.
“There’s something about Travis, when he wins a match, the whole team builds around it,” Vikings’ coach Cliff Sandee said.
So when Friend drew the first match of Wednesday’s district dual with fifth-ranked Shelby, that match took on a greater level of importance.
Friend didn’t mess around, defeating Shelby’s Jeremy Lambrix by a 13-6 decision to set the pace for Whitehall to roll past the Tigers and into the regional round.
“Our team usually wrestles pretty good if I win, it seems,” Friend said postmatch. “It’s always been like that.”
Friend and his team have been successful more often than not. He said the Vikings, having already beaten Shelby twice this year, entered Wednesday night with confidence.
“They’re a tough team, but we had high hopes,” Friend said. “We thought we were going to beat them.”
This time, the senior grappler was facing a tough challenge from Lambrix until a key move by Friend put him in control.
“It was close and then I threw a five-point headlock,” Friend said. “It kind of got out of hand after that.”
Sandee said he jokingly refers to Friend as a box because of his build.
“He’s literally a box,” Sandee said. “He’s very tough to wrestle. He’s so strong through his core that it’s hard to score on that.”
“There’s no one on the team more selfless. He’s going to win every team match. He’s a battler.”