West Michigan Conference wrestling teams were busy Saturday in various competitions.
Here is a roundup of the action from Jan. 27 based upon reports submitted to CatchMark SportsNet:
RICK CHAMPION DUALS AT WHITEHALL
Division 3 second-ranked Whitehall got off to a blistering start on Saturday, dismantling Newaygo 84-0, but the competition would get tougher for the Viking in the final three rounds.
In round two, Whitehall defeated Belding 46-28 in a potential team-regional matchup. Gavin Craner, Cody Manzo, Kolten Weiler, Max Krukowski, Nolan Taranko, Liam Leeke, and Darnell Mack all secured six-point victories, and Ryne Christensen secured a four-point major decision.
“I thought the guys competed well against Belding. That team is really talented up top. We had a lot of pins in that dual, and it was a highlight for Blake Morninstar to go 6 minutes with Jack Ward. That was a win for us too,” Whitehall coach Justin Zeerip said.
In round three, whitehall dropped a 30-29 heartbreaker to Hudsonville. The Vikings were in a hole from the outset, losing the first three bouts and trailing 15-0. Manzo turned things around with a 39-second fall, but Hudsonville kept rolling with five straight decisions and a 30-6 lead.
“That was a hard stretch of matches to watch,” Zeerip said. “Three of those five were one- or two-point matches and our guys had some opportunities. In the dual, we gave up four leads with under 30 seconds. That’s just not like us.”
Christensen kicked off a late Vikings rally with a 12-4 major decision. Mack followed with a second-period pin. Goodrich won a well-wrestled decision, and Blake English nearly secured the fall on several occasions but had to settle for a 10-1 major. Craner closed the dual with a second-period fall, but the late rally wasn’t enough as Whitehall came up a point short.
“It was definitely frustrating. We all have things to work on; there are some decisions I wish could do over in that dual,” Zeerip said. “We just have to clean up some things. We left a ton of points on the table: Not scoring on the edge of the mat, we gave up a couple falls late in matches that we didn’t see coming. Really just closing out matches late. I’m not worried about these kids — they are resilient. We will learn from this and get better than we were coming in.”
Whitehall showed its resiliency in the final dual with a 44-21 over Division 2 eighth-ranked Allendale. Blake Morningstar started the dual with a 32-second fall. Jason Smith followed suit with a 13-4 major decision, and Cody Manzo secured a 6-1 decision putting the Vikings up 13-0. Max Krukowski and Caden Varella both secured decision victories extending Whitehall’s lead to 25-9. Leeke, Christensen, Mack, Goodrich, and Craner would all secure victories to finish the day.
“I was really proud of how they responded against Allendale. It would have been easy to feel sorry for ourselves and not perform, but the kids really showed up and displayed heart and guts-they came back ready to fight,” Zeerip said.
“I’m not super disappointed in the day. Sure, we’d love to have beaten Hudsonville, but I can respect the response from the guys. As long as we can learn from that loss, it should make us stronger.”
Another highlight of the day was the alumni who showed up to support the team and the program.
“It was really cool seeing Tom DePuit, one of Whitehall’s first wrestling coaches, and Dan Brink, who made Whitehall a powerhouse in the 80’s,” Rick Champion said. “I’m honored that they put my name on the tournament, but it’s not about me. It’s about the kids and the coaches who built this. I’m just one of many. I think Whitehall wrestling is a family, and it’s nice to see us come together once a year.”
Editor’s note: Release submitted by Whitehall wrestling’s Craig Christensen.
RANDY JACOBS MEMORIAL DUALS AT MONTAGUE
Host Montague posted a 4-1 record on the day and finished runner-up to Hamilton in the Randy Jacobs Memorial Duals on Saturday.
Montague defeated Fruitport (39-33), Oakridge (66-18), Grand Rapids Northview (no score reported), and Schoolcraft (48-33) before the Wildcats fell to Hamilton in the finals (no score reported).
Montague’s Chris Aebig and Fletcher Thommen both finished 5-0 on the day. Brock Hunter, Jimmy Thommen, Isaac French, and Maverick Osborne all finished 4-1 on the day for the Wildcats.
SHELBY SUPER DUALS
Hart’s wrestling team finished runner-up in the Shelby Super Duals on Saturday, falling to Cedar Springs in the final, 39-30.
The Pirates reeled off pool victories over Shelby (62-9), Pine River (42-26), and Coopersville (39-28). They followed with a 37-28 win over Reeths-Puffer before the championship match against Cedar Springs.
Hart’s Alex Hicks notched his 100th career win and finished 5-0 on the day. The Pirates’ Kole Thomas also went 5-0 in the event.
Mason County Central also competed in the Shelby Super Duals. Zane McCabe went 5-0 on the day, while Hunter Sanford, William Thomsen, Brayden Overmyer, and Parker Overmyer all recorded three wins at the event.
“Zane is starting to peak at the right time. He had a real solid day and is looking ready for the postseason,” MCC coach Kendel Trim said. “All of these boys had a good day amidst some very tough competition. The Shelby tournament can always be a really tough tournament, but I felt that this year it was actually even tougher and we just wrestled really well.
“We are wrestling better as a team. We are coming together here at the end of the season and everyone that wrestled today showed improvement.”
Meanwhile, Fremont had a hard-fought day in the Shelby Super Duals and finished 2-3. Missing some key starters, the Packers won just one dual in the round-robin bracket in beating the Reeths-Puffer B team, 54-22, but falling to Cedar Springs (63-15) and Kent City (51-30). In the crossover round, Fremont revenged an early loss this season by beating Grant (38-33) then closed out the day with a narrow defeat to Pine River (45-36).
The lone undeated wrestler for Fremont was Tee Ward with a 5-0 record. Finishing the day with a 4-1 record were Killian Prewitt and Chase Montague.
Montague’s girls wrestling team traveled to Hastings Saturday, where the Lady Mat Cats finished runner-up. Montague had only six wrestlers competing compared to 14 for champion Hastings.
Savannah Winkleblack, Emma Pendell, and Ava Pelton all took first place individually for Montague, while Trisha Beckman and Zaniya Meza both finished third for the Wildcats.
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