By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half
CLINTON – Clinton High School has had a remarkable run of Division I college athletes over the past six years. In fact, eight have come through the halls of the northern Lenawee County school that boasts an enrollment of only 310 high school students total.
Noah Comar could become the next from the Class C school. But, he’s not worried about that just yet.
That’s because Comar, Clinton’s returning MHSAA Finals champion wrestler, has a couple more chances to bring home team and individual titles at the high school level.
“That’s what my focus is now,” Comar said. “I’d definitely like to wrestle in college. I’ve thought about it.
“It’s great for what all those guys have done. It’s inspiring, but I don’t think about that. I’m just focused on this season.”
Comar, 17, went 53-0 as a sophomore in winning the 112-pound weight division in Division 4 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. He enters the 2017-18 campaign with a career record of 108-4.
“I don’t focus on records,” he said. “I just focus on beating whoever steps on to the mat against me.”
Clinton has turned itself into a wrestling powerhouse over the past several years. Despite being in the same county as perennial Division 4 championship contender Hudson, the Redskins have made great strides with their program under head coach Jeff Rolland, who said this year’s goal isn’t just to get into the Quarterfinals on Feb. 23, but to “be wrestling on Saturday.”
If that happens, Comar will be a big reason why – in more ways than one.
“He is really good, and he’s still improving,” Rolland said. “One thing we asked more from him this year is to be a leader. He’s bringing kids with him as he improves, and that’s important.”
Comar agreed that throughout the preseason, he became more vocal despite his tendency to be quiet. When he became the fastest Clinton wrestler to 100 career wins last year, he was typically low-key about the honor, although he did pose for a photo with his parents and a large card that the Clinton staff made up with “100” on it.
“I’m speaking up more in practice,” he said. “It’s kind of new to me to do that, but I like it. I find that people are looking up to me more now.”
As a freshman, Comar finished second in Division 4 at 112 pounds, losing to Hudson’s Jordan Hamdan in the Finals by a 5-1 score. It was Hamdan’s third win over Comar that season. The two did not meet in 2017.
“He wrestled at 130, plus we weren’t at the same tournaments,” Comar said.
In 2017, Comar beat Hamden’s teammate, Tucker Sholl, to claim the title. The championship was a thriller as both scored an escape during regulation but Comar was able to get a takedown and win the match in overtime, 3-1. He wrestled at 112 last season as well but expects to spend most of this season at 125 before dropping down to 119 for the MHSAA tournament. He’s about 127 pounds now.
“It’s better for the team if I wrestle at 125,” he said. “We have some other 119-pounders. This will help the team.”
Comar has also set a goal of not giving up a point in the state tournament.
“It didn’t hit me until a few days after the state tournament that I had actually won the state championship,” he said. “It was like a dream; all of the hard work paid off. I was pretty confident in myself. The coaches are great. They gave me a lot of confidence in myself.”
Comar got his start in wrestling with the Adrian youth wrestling club. He later was involved in the Tecumseh wrestling program before deciding to go to Clinton. His father Cory and mother Monica were also big influences on him wrestling, and he had a brother who was an MHSAA Finals qualifier at Tecumseh.
Comar also plays football at Clinton and helped the Redskins to the playoffs this fall. He rushed for 336 yards and caught nine passes for 106 more yards. He also made 35 tackles.
Clinton has an experienced wrestling coaching staff. Rolland wrestled at Kent State University. Casey Randolph wrestled at Eastern Michigan University, as did new assistant coach Ben Griffen. Louis Posa, who was the most recent MHSAA champ from Clinton before Comar (in 2005), wrestled at Trine University. Assistant coach Al Regnier hails from the wrestling-rich Temperance Bedford program.
“I’ve learned a lot of stuff from them and not just about wrestling or technique,” Comar said. “They teach us all life lessons, too. It’s a good coaching staff.”
As for this season, the Redskins will have more than 30 athletes on the varsity roster – including a host of talented freshmen. Once Rolland is done tinkering with the lineup, he expects them to have a strong season.
“We are working on improving technique and getting the young kids up to speed,” Rolland said. “Our expectation level is very high for this season.”
As for Comar, he’s shooting for another undefeated season and a second MHSAA championship. He’s prepared hard in the offseason, he said.
“I feel like going into the season there is no rust,” he said. “I’m fully prepared and raring to go. I’m still improving. There’s always room to improve. I want to be better by the end of the year.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Clinton's Noah Comar works against his opponent during last season's Quarterfinal match at Central Michigan University. (Middle) Comar stands among teammates prior to taking on Leroy Pine River. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)