AUBURN HILLS — Sometimes it’s just not meant to be.
That may have been the case for Carson City-Crystal senior Kenneth Dittenber, who was in search of a third straight individual wrestling state title on Saturday at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Dittenber — won titles as a sophomore and junior at 103 pounds — was competing at 112 pounds this year and faced Logan Griffin of Erie Mason in the Division 4 final.
After a scoreless first period, Griffin got a point for an escape in the second and led after two periods. A flurry of action in the third period, including a takedown by Dittenber with just seconds left tied the match at 4-4 after the end of regulation.
The first three overtimes — the first one 60 seconds and the others 30 seconds — went scoreless and moved the match to the final overtime, period seven.
In the final sudden death overtime, the wrestler that scored first got to choose his starting spot. Griffin scored first and chose top, meaning Dittenber needed an escape or else the match and title would belong to Griffin.
Dittenber (53-5) had a couple of close calls on escapes, but Griffin (27-0) held on to win the state title 5-4 and leave Dittenber as runner-up.
“It was a great match and exciting stuff,” Carson City coach Kacy Datema said. “What a way to go out. He (Dittenber) is a great wrestler, there is no question. He is a tough kid and a competitor.”
Dittenber’s teammate Dillen Decker dominated his final match in the third period to place third at 145 in his first appearance at the state finals.
The sophomore outscored Cash Bolles of Hesperia 8-0 in the final period for an 8-2 win.
“It feels pretty good. All the hard work has paid off,” Decker said. “I had a tough loss to (Josh) Wendling, but I will be back next year. I had knee surgery last year, so I didn’t get to wrestle last year. It’s not first, but I will take it.”
Decker defeated Larry Kissinger of Pine River 6-2 to reach the third place match. He finished the year 51-7.
A pair of area wrestlers claimed fourth place on Saturday in their respective weight classes and divisions.
In Division 4, Montabella’s Jonny Durham lost 8-0 to Shane Rodenburg of Kent City in the third place match at 171 to finish fourth.
Durham just couldn’t get anything going, but finished the year 50-7.
Belding’s Michael Walker — after a fourth place finish at regionals — took fourth at the state finals at 152.
Walker lost 6-2 to Tobias Barnes of Romulus Summit Academy North in the third place match to finish his season 38-14. He defeated Shane Cooper of Jackson Lumen Christi in the consolation semifinals.
Belding coach Travis Meyer said Walker grew up this year and because of that had such a great year.
“He is a better wrestler mostly because he has grown up. He’s grown up a little bit and he’s confident,” Meyer said. “Being fourth at regionals didn’t faze him. He assumed he belonged in the semifinals and he wrestled that way.”
Tri County’s Tommy Gilbert and Greenville’s Michael Schmidt both earned fifth place finishes. It was also the first time either wrestler placed at the state finals.
Wrestling at 103 in Division 3, Gilbert defeated Kenny Reinhart of Dundee 8-7 to place fifth. Gilbert needed a last second escape for the deciding point.
“I kept thinking this was the last match of my high school career and I have to do what I can to win,” Gilbert said. “My coach kept saying I will remember this for the rest of my life and I will.”
Gilbert finished the year 49-10.
Schmidt (112 in Division 2), who suffered a heartbreaking loss to Lowell’s Zeth Dean in the championship semifinals, lost his first match on Saturday to Andrew Gorman of Madison Heights Lamphere 3-2.
He bounced back with a 3-0 win over Chris Poland of Thornapple Kellogg in his final match ever.
“I feel good about it. I rode him out pretty good in the third, but I couldn’t get anything,” Schmidt said. “I wish I could have been in the one or two position. It feels good to win my last high school match. I worked hard.
“This is my third year here. I didn’t place my first two years, so it feels good to place,” he added.
Schmidt finished 51-5.
Dallas O’Green of Carson City-Crystal and Logan Burns of Montabella both placed sixth in Division 4.
O’Green, at 119, lost to Darrin Crandall of Springport 2-1. O’Green trailed 2-0 to start the third period. He got one point back, but could not get any more.
The freshman finished 49-9.
Burns, at 160, lost to Jarret Wolford of Reading by technical fall 15-0. The senior finished his season and career 43-9.
Two area wrestlers won their final match on Saturday to place seventh. Greenville’s Alec Ward in Division 2 and Belding’s Todd Haller in Division 3 each placed seventh.
Haller, at 215, defeated Adam Ball of Manistee 9-5 to place for the first time in his career. Haller lead throughout the match and was very excited to earn a victory in his final career match.
“It feels amazing. I would rather take seventh place, than sixth place, by ending with a win,” Haller said. “I had a lot of close matches. In round two I wrestled Jay Sroufe of Dundee and he beat me. I beat him at team state last week. I could wrestle him 10 times and I would win five. He just got me today.
“It feels great to place here. I’ve wrestled four years and it feels great to be here. This is the first time I placed,” he added.
Haller finished 39-8.
Ward, at 130, defeated Nolan Waddell of Byron Center 5-3 to place seventh. The junior placed fifth a year ago at 125 and disappointed with this outcome.
Four area wrestlers placed eighth on Saturday. Unfortunately, that means they all lost their final match.
In Division 4, Montabella’s Dan Davidson (43-14) and Carson City-Crystal’s Garner Cusack (49-10) and Darren Decker (52-6) all placed eighth.
Davidson fell to Gabe Beaubien of Sand Creek 2-1, Cusack lost to Nick Klemm of Adrian Madison and Decker fell to Cason Rawson of Pine River in their final matches.
In Division 3, Central Montcalm’s Jesse Judge (45-9) placed eighth at 189.
Judge lost to Kendall Betteridge of Caro 4-1 in his final match. The senior placed for the first time.
“I think I could have done a little bit better,” Judge said. “I had some close matches. I could have finished my shots. I always got them elevated, but could not finish them.”
Individual state placers
112: Michael Schmidt, Sr., 51-5, 5th place
130: Alec Ward, Jr., 50-7, 7th place
152: Michael Walker, So., 38-14, 4th place
189: Todd Haller, Sr., 39-8, 7th place
189: Jesse Judge, Sr., 45-9, 8th place
103: Tommy Gilbert, Sr. 49-10, 5th place
112: Kenneth Dittenber, Sr. 53-5, 2nd place
119: Dallas O’Green, Fr., 49-9, 6th place
140: Garner Cusack, Jr., 49-10, 8th place
145: Dillen Decker, So., 51-7, 3rd place
152: Darren Decker, So., 52-6, 8th place
160: Logan Burns, Sr., 43-9, 6th place
171: Jonny Durham, Jr., 50-7, 4th place
285: Dan Davidson, Jr., 43-14, 8th place