AUBURN HILLS — Brighter lights. Bigger arena.
That is the setting called the Palace of Auburn Hills. This weekend, it’s not the Detroit Pistons on centerstage, but the best of the best in high school wrestling.
Nearly 900 wrestlers on 12 mats, in front of thousands of fans, fight one last weekend for the ultimate prize in wrestling — a state championship.
A total of 25 area wrestlers made the trip to the Palace, just north of Detroit, hoping to claim the ever elusive state title. After Thursday’s first round, 14 wrestlers were still on track for that state title.
Friday’s wrestling consisted of four rounds, two each in the consolation and championship brackets. The motto here is “win two before you lose two.” Two wins first will guarantee a third day of wrestling and a spot among the top eight in each respective weight class.
Starting with the second round (consolation first round), seven area wrestlers earned a win to move on.
Winners included Greenville’s Kyle Reamer (140 pounds) and Dakota Sherrick (189); Belding’s Nate Cooley (112), Jesse Scheidel (125) and
Neil McCully (189); Central Montcalm’s Jesse Judge (189) and Carson City-Crystal’s Darren Decker (152).
Losing in the consolation first round and eliminated from the tournament were Carson City-Crystal’s Taylor Barkley (103) and Lincoln Burnham (160) and Montabella’s Dalton Kuklewski (130) and Zack Taubitz (140).
In the third round (championship quarterfinals), six of 14 wrestlers advanced to the state semifinals.
Advancing to the semifinals were Greenville’s Michael Schmidt (112) in Division 2; Belding’s Michael Walker (152) in Division 3; Carson
City-Crystal’s Kenneth Dittenber (112), Dallas O’Green (119) and Dillen Decker (145) in Division 4 and Montabella’s Jonny Durham (171), also in Division 4.
The fourth round (consolation round two) is called the “Blood Round.” It means win or go home.
Tri County’s Tommy Gilbert was one wrestler to win the Blood Battle. Gilbert defeated Manchester’s Brendan Abrigo 6-0 to advance to today’s round six (consolation third round). The win improved Gilbert to 47-9.
“It feels great. It’s the best feeling in the world,” Gilbert said after winning. “It was tough. I couldn’t turn him, but I still got my takedowns and that’s what I needed. I’m confident I’m going to go in strong tomorrow. I’ve been wrestling hard these two days.”
Carson City-Crystal’s Garner Cusack (140) was also able to survive. He needed a late takedown with less than 10 seconds left to win 2-1.
“My first match was about the same way, down by one,” Cusack said. “I knew I had to do something. I was thinking about throwing, but didn’t want to ruin anything. I got a deep-double, picked him up and put him on his back.”
Also advancing in the Blood Round were Greenville’s Alec Ward (130); CC-Crystal’s Darren Decker (152); Montabella’s Logan Burns (160),
Central Montcalm’s Jesse Judge (189), Belding’s Todd Haller (215) and Montabella’s Dan Davidson (285).
All eight wrestlers will compete in the sixth round (consolation third round) today beginning at 8:30 a.m.
In the semifinals, just one wrestler advanced and will wrestle for an individual state title today at 4:45 p.m.
Dittenber advanced to his third straight Division 4 final with a 14-3 major decision over Sanford Meridian’s Joe Shuler at 112. Dittenber will be looking for his third consecutive state title. He would be the first Eagles wrestler to win three titles.
“It feels real good. No one at our school has ever done it,” Dittenber said of winning three state titles. “It wasn’t too bad (match). In the second,
I put him down and took him to his back and did the same in the third.”
Schmidt lost a heartbreaker in the Division 2 semifinals to Lowell’s Zeth Dean at 112. Leading 3-1 going into the final period, Dean tied the match late and then won with a takedown with just seconds remaining.
O’Green lost in the Division 4 semifinals at 119 to Isaac Dusseau by 4-2 decision. O’Green led after one period 2-1. It was tied 2-2 to start the third before Dusseau got a takedown for the winning points.
In Division 4, Dillen Decker lost to New Lothrop’s Josh Wendling for the second time in a week. They met in the team quarterfinals Feb. 22 at Kellogg Arena. Wendling won by 4-3 decision.
Like Schmidt, Walker lost in heartbreaking fashion in the Division 3 semifinals to Jared Elliott of Birch Run. Down 10-9, Elliott managed to get a takedown with just 12 seconds left to win.
Also in Division 4, Durham jumped to a 5-1 lead after two periods over Pat Brown of Sandusky. Durham could not hold on and lost 7-5.
The semifinal losers will find out their seventh round opponent after the sixth round is completed, which begins at 8:30 a.m. The consolation semifinals (seventh round) take place at 10:10 a.m.
In all, 14 area wrestlers advanced to today’s third day of competition at the individual state finals.
INDIVIDUAL WRESTLING RESULTS
112: Michael Schmidt, Sr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Matt Norris, Northview, by maj. dec. 10-1; 3rd Rd: defeated Blain Dempsey, Mattawan, by dec. 11-4; 5th Rd: lost in semifinals to Zeth Dean, Lowell, by dec. 5-3. Record: 50-4. Next: today vs. TBD in the seventh round.
130: Alec Ward, Jr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Tommy Martinez, Fruitport, by dec. 3-0; 3rd Rd: lost to Noah Hanau, Stevensville Lakeshore, by dec. 2-0; 4th Rd: defeated Lane McVicker, Eaton Rapids, by dec. 4-1. Record: 49-6. Next: today vs. Hunter Mayer, Warren Woods, Sr.
140: Kyle Reamer, Sr. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Austin Cottingim, Fowlerville, by maj. dec. 10-0; 2nd Rd: defeated Kevin Hart, Divine Child, by dec. 8-2; 4th Rd: lost to Khannor Kaercher, Warren Lincoln, by dec. 6-2. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 38-13.
189: Dakota Sherrick, Sr. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Landon Pelham, Tecumseh, by fall 4:33; 2nd Rd: defeated Ken Hansen, Sparta, by fall :48; 4th Rd: lost to Robert James, Flint Kearsley, by dec. 7-4. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 44-10.
112: Nate Cooley, So. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Devin Schroder, GR Catholic Central, by tech. fall 18-2; 2nd Rd: defeated James Bruce, Gladstone, by maj. dec. 16-3; 4th Rd: lost to Austin Felt, Shelby, by maj. dec. 11-3. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 31-17.
125: Jesse Scheidel, So. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Josh Schlak, Freeland, by fall :35; 2nd rd: defeated Austin Vannatter, Richmond, by dec. 7-2; 4th Rd: lost to Adam Bishop, Birch Run, by dec. 4-2. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 38-9.
152: Michael Walker, So. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Liam Grantham, Dundee, by forfeit; 3rd Rd: defeated Terry Grieser, Lakeview, by dec. 3-2; 5th Rd: lost in semifinals to Jared Elliott, Birch Run, by dec. 11-10. Record: 37-13. Next: today vs. TBD in seventh round.
189: Neil McCully, Jr. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Teddy Warren, Dundee, dec. 12-6; 2nd Rd: defeated Justin Parker, Battle Creek Pennfield, by fall 4:36; 4th Rd: lost to Kendall Betteridge, Caro, by dec. 3-0. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 40-12.
215: Todd Haller, Sr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Adam Ball, Manistee, by fall 5:02; 3rd Rd: lost to Jay Sroufe, Dundee, by dec. 3-2; 4th Rd: defeated Dylan Sorensen, Ludington, by fall 4:35. Record: 38-7. Next: today vs. Brandon Campbell, Otsego, Sr.
189: Jesse Judge, Sr. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Jake McKiernan, Richmond, by dec. 4-0; defeated Ric McKim, Oliver, by fall 2:07; 4th Rd: defeated Dan Drummond, GR Catholic Central, by maj. dec. 10-1. Record: 45-7. Next: today vs. Donovan Fouchey, Oscoda, Sr.
152: Terry Grieser, Jr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Hayden Codden, Manistee, dec. 8-5; 3rd Rd: lost to Michael Walker, Belding, by dec. 3-2; 4th Rd: lost to Dalton Yore, Richmond, by dec. 4-3. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 35-15.
103: Tommy Gilbert, Sr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Kenny Reinhart, Dundee, by fall 1:21; 3rd Rd: lost to Kanen Storr, Leslie, by maj. dec. 17-7; 4th Rd: defeated Brendan Abrigo, Manchester, by dec. 6-0. Record: 47-9. Next: today vs. Jon Martin, Grayling, Fr.
103: Taylor Barkley, Fr. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Justin Braford, Schoolcraft, by dec. 6-0; 2nd Rd: lost to Terry Burns, Sand Creek, by fall 3:23. Tournament record: 0-2. Final record: 29-18.
112: Kenneth Dittenber, Sr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Eric Wales, Traverse City St. Francis, by dec. 9-3; 3rd Rd: defeated Marcus Richardson, Addison, by dec. 8-1; 5th Rd: defeated in semifinals Joe Shuler, Sanford Meridian, by maj. dec. 14-3. Record: 53-4. Next: today in Division 4 finals vs. Logan Griffin, Erie Mason, So.
119: Dallas O’Green, Fr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Austin Wilt, Adrian Madison, by fall 3:53; 3rd Rd: defeated Jared Gauthier, Iron Mountain, by dec. 3-1; 5th Rd: lost semifinals to Isaac Dusseau, Hudson, by dec. 4-2. Record: 49-7. Next: today vs. TBD in the seventh round.
140: Garner Cusack, Jr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Andres Montoya, Constantine, by dec. 4-3; 3rd Rd: lost to Chad Decker, Grass Lake, by fall 1:27; 4th Rd: defeated Luke Wiser, Quincy, by dec. 2-1. Record: 49-8. Next: today vs. David McNealy, Bangor, Sr.
145: Dillen Decker, So. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Mat Gonzalez, Manistque, by dec. 4-3; 3rd Rd: defeated Jesse Ring, Bangor, by fall 3:47; 5th Rd: lost in semifinals to Josh Wendling, New Lothrop, by dec. 4-3. Record: 49-7. Next: today vs. TBD in seventh round.
152: Darren Decker, So. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Kyle Johnson, Hudson, by dec. 4-0; 2nd Rd: defeated Taylor Bonetti, Norway, by fall 2:12; 4th Rd: defeated Maverick Martin, Pine River, by fall 1:21. Record: 52-4. Next: today vs. Brody Conner, Lawton, So.
160: Lincoln Burnham, So. Results – 1st Rd: lost to Tommy Reed, Constantine, by dec. 6-0; 2nd Rd: lost to Kevin Curby, Hillsdale, by fall 2:36. Tournament record: 0-2. Final record: 14-12.
285: Dan Davidson, Jr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Wyatt Conkle, Hesperia, by OT dec. 3-2; 3rd Rd: lost to Zach Rieger, Hudson, by fall 1:11; 4th Rd: defeated Andrew Turner, Constantine, by fall 4:19. Record: 43-12. Next: today vs. Jake Khoury, Traverse City St. Francis, Jr.
125: Tristian Viglianco, So. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Jamie Summerville, Gobles, by dec. 8-5; 3rd Rd: lost to Carter Ballinger, Jonesville, by fall 1:14; 4th Rd: lost to Malachi Marshall, Laingsburg, by dec. 6-5. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 44-11.
130: Dalton Kuklewski, Jr. Results – 1st Rd: lost to David Jacobs, Hesperia, by dec. 10-8; 2nd Rd: lost to Kahle Scheenks, Bronson, by OT dec. 10-6. Tournament record: 0-2. Final record: 38-14.
140: Zack Taubitz, So. Results – 1st Rd: lost to David McNealy, Bangor, by dec. 7-3; 2nd Rd: lost to Nick Klemm, Adrian Madison, by fall 2:47. Tournament record 0-2. Final record: 47-10.
160: Logan Burns, Sr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Jesse Binkley, Colon, by maj. dec. 10-0; 3rd Rd: lost to Jacob Cooper, Springport, by dec. 8-2; 4th Rd: defeated Kevin Curby, Hillsdale, by dec. 7-2. Record: 42-7. Next: today vs. Dan Erwin, Bronson, Sr.
171: Jonny Durham, Jr. Results – 1st Rd: defeated Adam Langworthy, Pine River, by fall :36; 3rd Rd: defeated Leo Mara, Bronson, by dec. 16-11; lost in semifinals to Pat Brown, Sandusky, by dec. 7-5. Record: 49-6. Next: today vs. TBD in seventh round.