Wes Bockert and Adam Whitlatch were high school wrestling rivals in Toledo, Ohio. Bockert, now the Lathrop High School head wrestling coach, competed for Toledo’s Sylvania Northview and Whitlatch was a Rossford wrestler.

They gained something else in common Wednesday afternoon — each will have coached Andrue Shepersky.

During a ceremony at the Interior Grappling Academy, Shepersky, a 2019 Lathrop graduate, signed a National Letter of Intent with the Southwestern Oregon Community College wrestling program. Whitlatch is the head coach of the Lakers, of Coos Bay, Oregon, and the Northwest Athletic Conference of community colleges.

Shepersky visited Southwestern Oregon in April, about two weeks after he won in the state freestyle wrestling tournament  in Wasilla.

He said he visited a lot of colleges but Southwestern Oregon “felt like the right fit.”

“It was more of a vibe,” said Sherpesky, who wore a black Lakers wrestling T-shirt while sitting at the signing table with his mother, Debbie; uncle, Allen Kisgen, a Lathrop assistant coach; brother, Trent, a wrestling coach and a middle and high school wrestling referee; and Bockert.

“All the colleges had really good workout rooms and everything. So it was kind of hard to choose on that, but just the overall feeling of the (Southwestern Oregon) college gave me a good vibe.”

Shepersky transferred to Lathrop from Wasilla High School, and he contributed state titles to both programs.

As a Wasilla junior, he captured the 152-pound state title at the Division I state tournament in the Alaska Airlines Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He won at 160 pounds for Lathrop in December in the 2018 Division I state tournament at UAA. 

Competing for two of the top wrestling high schools in Alaska should help his transition to competing for Southwestern Oregon. Lathrop won the Division I state team title in 2017 and placed third at last year’s tournament. Wasilla placed fourth in the team standings of the 2017 and 2018 Division I state tournaments.

“Definitely having the amount of coaches I’ve had and the different kinds of coaching that I’ve had has helped me a lot,” Shepersky said. “That will definitely prepare for having new coaches in college as well.

“I just think having a variety of people around me; there’s a lot of good support, a lot of different kinds of support.”

Shepersky is scheduled to have experience around him at Southwestern Oregon. 

The Lakers had 17 freshmen among 25 wrestlers this past season. If all of those 17 wrestlers return for next season, they will be 17 sophomores.

Sherpesky said he learned how to be a leader for Lathrop’s younger wrestlers during his senior season. He hopes to have a similar role as a freshman for Southwestern Oregon.

“It was really good for teaching me how to set an example in front of the entire team, not just being the younger kid on the team,”  Shepersky said.

Shepersky said he’s scheduled to compete at 165 pounds as a freshman for the Lakers and move up to 174 pounds as a sophomore.

Bockert said he thinks Sherpesky will adjust to the weight change and more in college wrestling.

“He’s definitely a talented young man,” Bockert said. “As far as the grind goes, that will be a new aspect for him when it comes to college. 

“He’s always been smooth and quick and talented up here, and not really challenged in any aspect. So he’ll have to pick up the challenge of the grind, banging it out in college.”

Bockert said he saw Shepersky make adjustments as a Lathrop senior, which will be similar to adjustments he’ll have to make for Southwestern Oregon.

“Especially this year, I got on him about some times of not taking unnecessary injury times and gassing (wearing) the other guy out and making him expend his gas tank (energy), and really banging it out and pushing the other guy.

“I think he’s really grasped the introduction of how that should go for him, and if he stays with it, he’ll be fine.”

Shepersky said he plans to work for an associate degree in pre-law or liberal arts at Southwestern Oregon.

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.