The Orion High School wrestling team of 1998-99 was inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 5.

“If state championships were won with heart, the wrestling team would have brought home the gold!”

That one quote I think pretty much sums up this team. I have been fortunate enough to have had several outstanding teams in my years of coaching, but I have never had a team with more heart and determination than this team.

They ended up with a 12-9 record and one might say that’s not much, but let me explain. This team faced adversity their entire season.

For those who may not know, there are 14 weight classes in wrestling. We only had a total of 13 wrestlers, and two of those were the same weight.

That meant in every match we were starting out at least 12 points behind.

Besides the low numbers, they also had to overcome injuries and sickness at various times during the season.

It’s also important to note that nine of their 21 duals were against 3A schools.

After starting out 0-5, they came together as the “Dirty Dozen” and went on to finish the season with a stretch tha included winning the Olympic Conference title.

In the state series, they won the regionals with only 12 guys and nine of those went on to the individual sectional.

Facing the fourth-ranked team in the state at the sectional dual meet, they won 29-22 to become a state-qualifying team.

At state their streak was ended by the defending state champs, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

Finishing as a top eight team in the state was quite an accomplishment for the “Dirty Dozen.” They are a true example of what determination and heart can do.

I want to congratulate each of you and tell you how proud I am of you.

I give you the 1998-99 Orion wrestling team and 2018 Hall of Famers.

Letterwinners included John Born, Chad Cox, Brad Gayer, Bryan Hooks, Josh Hooks, Nathan Knorrek, John Larson. Trevor Lindquist, Raymond Schnell, John Shaw, Steve Taets, David Tennant and Travis Zurcher.

The head coach was Bob Mitton, and assistant coaches were Kevin Parker, Luke Skic, Sam Shaw and Cary Cox II.