LAKE ODESSA — It’s been a long time since Belding’s wrestling team claimed a team regional title.
But the Redskins did just that Wednesday night, winning the Division 3 regional at Lake Odessa Lakewood High School with wins over Chesaning and Leslie.
“This is awesome,” coach Travis Meyer said. “We had a good setup, our districts and region were friendly to us. We didn’t have any powerhouses to go through but our kids have busted their rears and wrestled their tails off and they deserve this for sure.”
Belding (21-7) started the night off with the Indians, having to battle throughout the meet. They led by as much as nine early, then had to hang on after Chesaning took a 22-21 lead.
Three pins later, the Redskins had the meet 39-37. They did this while forfeiting four matches.
Meanwhile, the Hawks were disposing of Central Montcalm, winning that 43-35. The score was not indicative of the meet, as Leslie voided the last three weight classes once they got to 43.
Green Hornet coach Dan VanderVlucht wasn’t unhappy with his team, but the officiating wasn’t to his liking.
“An official decided the match,” he said. “When we get three team points (taken away) because we’re asking questions at the table that’s not right.”
The points were taken away because the official penalized VanderVlucht and an assistant for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“We were tough,” VanderVlucht said. “Every weight class sent out there was a tough match. We didn’t get the job done on the mat. They (Central) didn’t execute their shots.”
That set up the final match, which started at the 140-pound class. After losing that match, Belding went on a 25-6 run to take a big lead going into the 285-pound class.
The Redskins forfeited that match, then Meyer started changing up the lineup.
“Both of their (Leslie’s) 103-pounders are absolutely studs,” Meyer said. “Then we bumped our guys we count on up. So our 103 wrestled at 112, our 112 wrestled at 119, our 119 wrestled at 125, our 125 at 130 and our 130 at 135. We bumped everything up to finish it for us. It paid off.”
Trailing 25-18, the Hawks got three pins, but Nate Cooley got a win at 119 and Jesse Scheidel got a pin at 130 to put Belding down 36-34 going into the final match.
Redskin 135-pounder Devin Bailey beat Leslie’s Steffanie Hampton 9-5 to win the regional.
“It’s awesome to watch a kid go out and do the things they do in the wrestling room and grind it out and get a win like that,” Meyer said. “When someone takes a kid down and pins him, it feels good. When a kid goes out and wrestles like he did in the room, it really feels like you had a bigger part in that.”