BLANCHARD — Even though Montabella’s wrestling team was bounced from the Division 4 district tournament by Carson City-Crystal, the Mustangs were still able to have a good season, according to their coach.
Montabella went 25-5 in dual meets this season and won a share of the Central Michigan Athletic Conference title with the Eagles when they won the postseason tournament.
“I was real pleased with the season,” Balhorn said. “Obviously we wanted to go farther postseason, but the way we wrestled through the league I was very happy from a team standpoint.”
Balhorn knew right away he had a good team capable of winning.
“Ironically it was our very first dual of the year,” he said. “We beat (LeRoy) Pine River 36-33 and I remember thinking this is a very special group of men. They (Pine River) had knocked us out of the post season the year prior. We kept growing from there.”
Balhorn also noted the injury bug didn’t bite the Mustangs hard.
“Overall, we stayed healthy for the most part and the guys kept working hard all year,” he said.
Montabella had a number of wrestlers make it to the state finals individually, but there were a couple of wrestlers who stood out to Balhorn beyond the usual good wrestlers.
“Zach Taubitz, he wrestled up a weight class the whole year,” Balhorn said. “He did a great job for us. He didn’t get a lot of press coverage, but he’s really a great wrestler.
“Mike Hyde, our 145-pounder, was a first-year junior who thought he’d try it and was a match away from being a state finalist.
“Dustin Scott, our 119-pounder, carried our lower weights for the most part.”
Montabella will have lots of returning wrestlers, and that has Balhorn optimistic for next season.
“We only lose two seniors this year so we have pretty much everybody coming back next year,” he said. “We have a nice group of middle school kids that show some good promise. If we can get everybody in all the weight classes we could make a run. I think it’s going to be a nice year. We’re going to be a little more competitive with our schedule to prepare for the postseason. I think the kids will be focused on getting on the mat during the spring and summer and we’ll see where next year takes us.”