Thrush Thrives in Farwell's Mat Return

February 6, 2019

By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half

Jay Thrush admitted once he bought the new shoes, he knew he was back.

Thrush was a promising wrestler at Farwell High School three years ago, finishing in eighth place as a 171-pound freshman at the 2016 Division 4 Individual Finals. He followed that up with another Finals trip as a sophomore, falling just short of the podium in 2017. 

That momentum was stopped last year when the Farwell athletic administration had to cancel the season because of a lack of participation. 

"My freshman year six of us went to state and three of us placed, and I thought that was going to help build the program – but it didn't," Thrush said. "I thought people were going to join, but no one did. Wrestling is a hard sport, and it is hard to convince people to go out."

Then a new coach showed up.

Marcus Wilkes, a former Farwell wrestler, was asked to come back to his former school by Farwell baseball coach Josh Higgins to try and get the wrestling program back up and running. 

"The last few years I was a manager at Walmart in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and I was sick of working 100 hours a week and I just got married," Wilkes said. "So I ended up quitting and going back to school. Now I go to Ferris and coach."

Higgins did a good sell job to convince the energetic Wilkes to come home.

"I wrestled for Farwell for my first two years in high school, and then I moved to Wisconsin and wrestled the final two years," said Wilkes, who also played baseball in high school. "I lost every match I wrestled my freshman year, but as a senior I finished 32-13 in Wisconsin. 

"I did talk to Josh and asked if he needed any help with the baseball team, and he said none this year, but wanted me to come back and coach wrestling. I was hired in the fall and began to recruit kids."

Obviously one of the first Wilkes reached out to was Thrush, but Wilkes admitted he wasn't sure Thrush was all in to come back for his senior season.

"I knew Jay wasn't sure he wanted to wrestle when we started, but he got new shoes a month into the season, and then I knew he was in it for the long haul," Wilkes said. 

Thrush agreed. 

"Yeah, once I got the new shoes, I was trapped after that," Thrush said. 

Luckily for Wilkes, Thrush picked up right where he left off after his sophomore season.

Heading into this past weekend, Thrush had a 25-4 record wrestling at 189 pounds. And he has been a help to Wilkes in the practice room, showing some of the new wrestlers – along with Wilkes – moves the younger athletes can build upon. 

"He has been a huge asset," Wilkes said. "He has become a leader. He is teaching techniques that I am rusty at, helping the younger kids improve."

Thrush has been a leader in the classroom too, carrying a 3.5 GPA. 

How many kids have Wilkes and Thrush had to work with this year?

"We had 12 to start, but we have lost some during the year," Thrush said. "Wrestling is mentally tough on first-year wrestlers; it takes a while to understand the sport. Experience goes a long way in this sport.

"We have a youth program, and I hope the young guys stay in the sport," he added. "And having a new coach helps."

One of those young wrestlers to build the future around is freshman Chase Burchette, who has won more than 20 matches this season at 160 pounds. 

Wilkes is looking forward to the future.

"I'm excited," Wilkes said. "When I set up our schedule I only had four wrestlers. And I set up a somewhat difficult schedule, and with what I've seen, I'm excited for the future. It was good to see where our team stood against same-level teams with limited weight classes, and we have done well. But this year I wanted to concentrate on individual, and next year we will concentrate on team."

Farwell is in Division 3 and starts its MHSAA Tournament with Team Districts on Thursday at Clare High School and Individual Districts on Saturday at Freeland.

PHOTOS: (Top) Jay Thrush is again a mat standout as Farwell brought back its wrestling program this winter. (Middle) As a freshmen in 2016, Thrush wrestled Clinton’s Verneri Korkee at the Finals and took eighth in Division 4 at 171 pounds. (Top photo courtesy of the Farwell athletic department; Finals photo by

Performance of the Week: Detroit Catholic Central's Darius Marines

March 8, 2024

Darius Marines headshotDarius Marines ♦ Detroit Catholic Central
Senior ♦ Wrestling

Marines became the 36th wrestler in Michigan high school history to win a fourth Individual Finals championship as he clinched the 157-pound title with a 10-2 major decision over Roseville's previously-undefeated Jay'Den Williams on Saturday at Ford Field. Marines became the third Detroit Catholic Central wrestler to earn four Finals titles. 

The clinching victory put Marines at 50-0 to close this season, and 138-9 for his career. His previous championships came at 145 pounds as a freshman, 152 as a sophomore and 157 last year as a junior. He won by technical fall, pin and then major decision on the way to meeting Williams in the championship match. He also helped the Shamrocks to Division 1 team titles the last two seasons. Marines will continue wrestling at the college level and is considering multiple Division I opportunities.

@mhsaasports 🤼‍♂️POW: Darius Marines #wrestling #individual #detroitcatholiccentral #letsgo #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🤼‍♂️POW: Darius Marines #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #muhammadali #joker #pasta #japan #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.'s "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

Past 2023-24 Honorees

March 1: Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
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Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
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Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
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Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
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Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
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Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

PHOTO DCC's Darius Marines, left, wrestles Roseville's Jay'Den Williams in the Division 1 157-pound championship match Saturday at Ford Field. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)