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Hart’s wrestling team oh, so close to taking ‘next step’ in state quarterfinal heartbreaker

In fifth straight trip to team state finals, fifth-seeded Hart falls to fourth-seeded Constantine, 32-30.

Photos by Shayla Hardy for CatchMark

Hart’s wrestling program made its fifth straight team state finals appearance Friday at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.

The Pirates continue to make strides as a program. They just need to take the next step — maybe half a step. That’s how close they were this time.

Fifth-seeded Hart lost a 32-30 heartbreaker to fourth-seeded Constantine in the state quarterfinals.

“I think we had a good season, although it would’ve been nice to take that next step and win a dual at team state,” said Hart coach Rocky Smith, whose Pirates closed the team portion of the season with a 26-7 record.

“We are very close to that next step. We just need to put in the extra work in the offseason and we will get there.”

Constantine (26-2) advances to face top-seeded powerhouse Dundee (17-5) in the state semifinals at noon Saturday. Second-seeded Whitehall (28-3) and third-seeded Clinton (27-5) tangle in the other semifinal. Semifinal winners wrestle at 3:45 p.m. for the Division 3 state title, won by Dundee for the last six years and 11 of the past 13 seasons.

Hart put itself in position to be one of the final four teams. As is the case in any close match, the Pirates can look at a few different spots that could have flipped the outcome.

“Losing at 144 (pounds) wasn’t expected, but we got a big win at 157, which was a toss-up match,” Smith said. “There was a terrible call in the 190-pound match that would’ve won us the dual, had it been called correctly.

“We had some big wins from our underclassmen, which was great to see in this environment,” Smith continued. “I’m very proud of how we have competed the last several weeks as a team. We continued to get bonus points and limit them in our losses, which kept us in every dual.”

For five Pirates wrestlers, the season continues. Those five have qualified for the MHSAA individual state finals next weekend (March 1-2) at Ford Field in Detroit.

With the West Michigan Conference Rivers Division title in-hand along with Division 3 district and regional trophies, Hart has plenty of reasons to feel pride about the season. Next weekend is an opportunity to put the finishing touches on it.

“Now, we will look at trying to get our five individual state qualifiers on the podium next week,” Smith said.


Constantine 32, Hart 30

126 Preston Like (Constantine) over Logan Jorissen (Hart) Maj 10-2 4 0
132 Bear Geibe (Constantine) over Ty Thomas (Hart) Maj 13-2 8 0
138 Koltin Gross (Constantine) over Kai Miller (Hart) Fall 2:35 14 0
144 Michael Featherstone (Constantine) over JoseLuis Andaverde (Hart) Dec 3-2 17 0
150 Haegan Hansen (Hart) over Cody Laughman (Constantine) Dec 4-3 17 3
157 Josue Salgado Velazquez (Hart) over Brody Jones (Constantine) UTB 3-2 17 6
165 Dathan Smith (Constantine) over Unknown (Unattached) Forf 23 6
175 Alex Hicks (Hart) over Carter Godfrey (Constantine) Fall 3:28 23 12
190 Gregg Reed (Constantine) over Adrian Tice (Hart) SV-1 4-2 26 12
215 Ivan Lara (Hart) over Greg Crawford (Constantine) Dec 5-2 26 15
285 Bennett VandenBerg (Constantine) over Adrian Lara (Hart) Fall 2:50 32 15
106 Aiden Schaner (Hart) over Ashtin Forrester (Constantine) Fall 1:37 32 21
113 Jose Chavira (Hart) over Ethan Fugate (Constantine) Fall 1:37 32 27
120 Kole Thomas (Hart) over Jace Vavul (Constantine) SV-1 4-2 32 30

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.

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