Fritz, Lunsford, Cooper, Peebler, Courtright garner biggest honors
Fairfield seniors Michael Fritz and Dallas Peebler, juniors Brendon Lunsford and Gannon Courtright and freshman Jonah Cooper were honored last week with the Trojan wrestling program’s most prestigious annual honors.
For the 2016-17 season, Fritz was given the Trojan MVP award. Peebler earned the Darwin Potter Dedication And Determination award.
Lunsford received the Jordan Smith Perseverance award, Courtright earned Most Improved honors and Cooper was Rookie of the Year.
For mental and physical toughness and never missing a single practice, Fritz and Peebler were also given the Iron Man award.
This was the second consecutive season Fritz received the team MVP award. Fritz led the 2016-17 Trojans in wins and served as team captain.
The Trojans finished 6-5 in dual meets and 2-2 in Southeast Conference action, good for second place.
At the 195-pound weight class, Fritz won the District Meet championship, earning a trip to the State Meet. In Des Moines at the State Meet, Fritz suffered a severe shoulder injury in his first match. Less than two hours later, essentially wrestling with just one arm, Fritz destroyed his second-match foe 15-6.
Fritz finished his career with 110 victories, No. 5 all-time in school history.
Of his second consecutive team MVP award, Fritz said, “Hard work pays off. But I worked this season not just for me but also for my team.
“My favorite memories of this season was when we were all jumping up and down together after our big victories, particularly after defeating Fort Madison and Mt. Pleasant.”
Coming through with big victory after big victory this season was Lunsford.
Competing in the 285-pound weight class, Lunsford won championships at the Southern Iowa Classic, Sectional Meet and District Meet. At the State Meet, Lunsford took sixth place.
“Brendon definitely deserved the award for perseverance,” Fritz said. “He had some back pain that started during the football season. So he wasn’t able to drill early in the wrestling season. But he eventually just pushed through all that, got into excellent condition and, by the end of the season, he became so confident.
“And that showed: He was excellent at state.”
Courtright competed at the 120-pound class.
“I think last season, Gannon wasn’t quite satisfied,” Fritz said. “So over the summer, he lifted more, got stronger and got much better with his technique. If he works as hard this summer as he did last summer, he’ll be very difficult to beat next season.”
Peebler (126) and Cooper (106) both qualified for the District Meet, held Feb. 11 in Fairfield.
“Jonah Cooper is a very hard worker,” Fritz said. “No one was surprised he got Rookie of the Year. I know he’ll keep having a lot of success if he keeps working as hard as he does.”
Of Peebler earning the team award for dedication and determination, Fritz said, “Dallas deserved it. He worked so hard all year. And he especially worked hard in the summer. (Head) Coach (Steve) Miller would constantly be getting texts from Dallas all summer to open up the gym so he could work out.”
Among the many highlights for the 2016-17 squad was a stun-the-area second-place team finish at the Southern Iowa Classic.
“Overall,” said Fritz, “our team worked very hard — and I’m just extremely proud to have been a part of this wrestling team.”