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WMC wrestling: Whitehall edges Bedford in thriller, Nick Blanchard gets 100th win; Montague hosts big meet

Vikings edge Division 1 Temperance Bedford in matchup of top-10 teams to win invite and stay unbeaten.

Whitehall senior Nick Blanchard holds up a poster commemorating his 100th career victory during the Marge and Tate Frederick Invite Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021, at Grandville High School. (Photo by Tom Jenkins)

Whitehall’s wrestling team put in some extra work Wednesday in the Marge and Tate Frederick Invite at Grandville High School, but it was well worth it for the Vikings.

It was definitely a memorable day for Nick Blanchard.

Division 2 fifth-ranked Whitehall won all five dual matches, including a thriller in the final against Division 1 No. 10 Temperance Bedford, 36-32, to capture the championship. Early in the day, Blanchard notched the 100th win of his career.

“Give credit to our guys for wrestling hard,” said Whitehall co-coach Justin Zeerip, whose team improves to 9-0 on the young season. “Six of them kept it to a decision (rather than losing by pin). We lost a bunch of one- and two-point decisions. Those kids staying off their backs and fighting hard allowed us to win the dual.

“I was just really proud of the kids for how hard they wrestled.”

Photos by Macy Taranko

Whitehall won only six of the 14 individual matches against Bedford, but as Zeerip noted, the Vikings were able to save some points by staying off their backs in several cases.

Ira Jenkins (285 pounds), Shane Cook (215), Blanchard (189), Max Brown (145) and Riley Buys (130) recorded pins in the final for Whitehall, while Dylan Osborn won by forfeit.

In the semifinals, Whitehall defeated Howard City Tri County, 58-15. The Vikings also beat Rochester Adams (70-3), Grand Haven (63-15) and East Kentwood (78-3).

Blanchard’s 100th win came in the day’s opening match when he pinned East Kentwood’s Savontes Scott at 171 pounds. He joins Jenkins and Brown – both state champs last season – in the 100-win club. Jenkins is rapidly approaching 150 career victories.

“That means it’s a testament to all the hard work put in and all the effort in practice and the offseason,” Zeerip said about Blanchard’s milestone. “I’m really proud of him for getting to 100 wins. His freshman year, he was wrestling pretty much state placers and state qualifiers all the time. I’m just really proud of him for getting to 100 wins like that.”

Jenkins, Cook, Blanchard and Brown each finished 5-0 on the day Wednesday. Braydn VanPatten went 3-0, while Buys, Osborn, Aiden Weiler, Alec Pruett and Nolan Taranko each finished 4-1.

The schedule does not get any easier for Whitehall. A week from Saturday, the Vikings wrestle in the Detroit Catholic Central Invitational. DCC has been one of the toughest programs in the state for several years.

“I’m feeling good (about his team),” Zeerip said. “Yesterday was pretty much the first time all season we’ve been full-strength at a tournament or invitational. Christmas break is really hard – you’ve got to work around family Christmases and holidays and all of that.”

MONTAGUE

Photos by Stephanie Moore

Montague hosted the Third Annual Eric Scott Mat Cat Classic on Wednesday, featuring wrestlers from 21 schools.

The highlight of the day for the Wildcats was senior Cale Coppess (135 pounds) capturing a title in the individual tournament and improving his season record to 16-0 with 14 pins. He has not allowed a single earned point against him this season.

“Tristan Winkleblack (145 pounds) wrestled extremely well yesterday. We are proud of his progress the last few weeks – lost to a tough Fremont kid in the semifinal before bouncing back and pinning the third seed to take third (on Wednesday),” Montague coach Kris Maddox said.

Jimmy Thommen (103) placed fourth for the Wildcats. Maddox noted that Michael Moore wrestled tough in a stacked 152-pound weight class, and that he’s right there with everyone he wrestles.

The coach believes that Montague could wrestle better as a whole, that the Wildcats have not reached their full potential yet.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing,” he said. “We’ve had a really tough first part of our schedule and hopefully as the season continues, we can start to meet those expectations of the team.”

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

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