Tim Roberts had an awakening.
After winning the Division 3 championship in 2007, his Dundee Vikings lost in three consecutive Finals matches. Each were excruciating losses – 30-27, 33-25 and 24-23.
“We had a good program,” Roberts said. “We were doing well. But there was a period there where we were in the running but not winning. In 2011, I think it was the pinnacle. I realized we had to be different.
“We’d get close every year and lose at the state tournament. Too many times we were close. I knew we had to do something different.”
Not many coaches would have had the guts to change a program that had the success of Dundee, but Roberts wanted something more. The results speak for themselves.
The Vikings recently captured their fifth consecutive Division 3 title and ninth since 2011. The latest championship gave Roberts 10 total. He is the first wrestling coach in state history to win 10 Finals titles.
“We’ve been really fortunate,” said Roberts, who announced at last weekend’s Individual Wrestling Finals that he was retiring after 23 seasons and more than 500 career wins at Dundee. “It’s pretty cool to be the first to 10. There’s a lot of great coaches on that list with a lot of championships. It represents a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”
Roberts went into this Finals weekend tied with another coach from Monroe County, Bill Regnier, with nine championships. Roberts was an assistant at Dundee when Regnier coached his final match for Bedford. He’s a coach that Roberts still holds in high regard.
“He’s the legend,” Roberts said. “In every conversation, every poll, every time you talk about, Bill Regnier is considered the best wrestling coach ever in the state. To be mentioned in the same sentence as him is something special. He really is the legend.”
Hudson’s Scott Marry tied Regnier for second place on the list with his ninth Finals title last weekend. Lowell’s R.J. Boudro won his eighth title. Mike Rodriguez won seven at Detroit Catholic Central and one at River Rouge, and Mitch Hancock has won eight at Detroit Catholic Central.
“I might have been the first to 10, but I won’t be the last,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of great coaches still coaching with a lot of championships. Scott Marry is not done winning state titles. He’ll be at 10 real quick. R.J. has won eight in eight tries.
“I don’t think 10 will stand long.”
Roberts’ run is remarkable, nonetheless. His Vikings won a District title all 23 years he was head coach and have won 30 straight overall. Dundee won its Regional in 22 of his 23 years.
Roberts doesn’t beat around the bush about Dundee’s goals every year. League championships are nice, District and Regional championships help fill up the trophy case. But, for the Vikings, winning the Finals championship is always the goal.
“That sounds arrogant, I know,” Roberts said, “but that’s the way it is. That is the goal every year. In all 23 years I coached, that was the goal.”
Roberts said his changes to the program around 2011 included adding strength training to the Dundee repertoire, and that was when Vikings coaches also started focusing more on the mental approach to the sport.
“After 2011, we hit our stride,” he said.
Roberts gives a lot of credit for the “Viking Way” to others in the program.
“Doing it this way starts long before the varsity level,” he said. “The kids club has to be strong. The middle school program has to be strong. You have to have a coaching staff on the same page and dedicated to all aspects of the team. It’s not one person, not even close.”
Roberts learned under Jim Wittibslager, who led Dundee to four straight Finals championships from 1995-98.
“That put me on a really good path,” Roberts said. “I learned how all of this works. Over time, you keep learning. You figure things out as you go. You have to build relationships with a lot of people because you can’t do this alone, not if you want to sustain success.”
Roberts has won numerous coaching honors, local and state, and was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Boys Coach of the Year in 2020. The honors are likely to continue after this season. Dundee defeated Alma 55-12 in the Division 3 Final to conclude another dominating season.
Roberts said he had an idea this would be his last coaching the Vikings.
“Coming into this season, I was pretty sure I was going to be done,” he said. “As the season went on, I realized that it would be. This isn’t a decision I took lightly. I’ve pretty much been doing this my whole adult life.”
Roberts said no one should expect Dundee to fall off the mountain. Six Individual Finals placers were underclassmen, and kids from the middle school team to the youth programs won multiple championships.
“There are a lot of good people in place and some good wrestlers coming up,” he said. “The youth club is doing really well. It’s just time. It’s time to let someone else who has the passion and drive to do this take over.”
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 Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Dundee coach Tim Roberts shows his characteristic celebratory enthusiasm during last weekend’s Individual Wrestling Finals. (Middle) Bill Regnier, here in 2009, built a legendary career at Temperance Bedford. (Below) Roberts holds up his team’s 2020 Division 3 team championship trophy. (Roberts photos by Tom Hawley; Regnier photo courtesy of the Monroe News.)
Shayna Hruska ♦ Iron Mountain
Junior ♦ Wrestling
With an 8-2 decision win in the 106-pound final Saturday, Hruska became the first female champion at the annual Upper Peninsula Championships, and she then was selected the event’s “Outstanding Wrestler” for going 3-0 also with pins in her first two matches of the tournament. Those victories improved her record to 18-6 this season.
Hruska began wrestling in third grade and finished fourth at 97 pounds as a freshman at the 2021 Michigan Wrestling Association Girls Championships. She then finished second at her District to reach Regionals competing in the bracket with the boys last season. She entered last week’s U.P. Championships title coming off a runner-up finish at the Escanaba Elks Invitational on Jan. 7 and the championship at 106 at Kingsford’s Ray Mariucci Wrestling Invitational on Jan. 14.
@mhsaasports 🤼♀️POW: Shayna Hruska #performanceoftheweek #wrestling #upchampionship #outstandingwrestler #congrats #meetchamp #uppower #mountaineers #ironmountain #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok #mistudentaid #fyp @shaynahruska ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat
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(Photos courtesy of the Iron Mountain High School athletic department.)