As 2013 comes to a close, The Daily News is taking a look back at the top 10 local sports stories of the year. We counted down from 10 to four earlier in the week. The top three stories feature four teams and many more individuals in outstanding seasons.
No. 3 Belding reaches quarterfinals, again
The Belding Redskins softball team has had a tremendous run the past few years. Nothing changed in 2013.
After a slow start during the regular season, the Redskins turned up the heat when it mattered most. In the state playoffs.
“The season was such a crazy start with the weather and all the cancelations. I think it was kind of a weird start for everybody,” Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said. “But I thought the team came together when we found out the lineup and that’s where we had our success. I’m very upfront with their role and once they know that and accept it everybody starts to connect on our team and it shows.”
The Redskins won 15 games in the regular season and added two more in the district tournament with wins over Cedar Springs and Comstock Park (both O-K Blue rivals).
It was Belding’s fifth consecutive district championship.
The regionals took place at Hope College in Holland, a place the Redskins have become very familiar with.
At the regional tournament, the Redskins won a pair of exciting 3-2 games to clinch their fourth straight regional championship. The Redskins defeated Grand Rapids Christian in the semifinal and then knocked off Hudsonville Unity Christian in the bottom of the eighth inning in the finals.
Unlike the regional final, the Redskins were on the opposite end of a 3-2 eight inning game in the Division 2 quarterfinal. Belding lost to the Linden Eagles at Davenport University.
Belding finished the season 19-9.
No. 2 Three wrestling teams reach Battle Creek
The goal of every wrestling team is to compete in their last match at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek at the team state championship.
Just eight teams in four divisions get the opportunity to do so and just four will finish their season with a win.
In 2013, three area teams played their final matches in Battle Creek. The Greenville Yellow Jackets reached Kellogg Arena for the fourth consecutive year, while the Belding Redskins and Carson City-Crystal Eagles reached Battle Creek for the first time in years.
The Yellow Jackets had to face the No. 2 Lowell Red Arrows. Greenville held close, but lost 38-25. Lowell would advance to the Division 2 finals before losing to the St. Johns Redwings.
Greenville finished the year 28-5. The Yellow Jackets district title was their eighth consecutive.
In Division 3, the Redksins defeated Leslie for its first regional championship since 1988.
Belding was a No. 8 seed and had to face No. 1 seeded Dundee in the quarterfinals. Dundee went on to win 51-19. Dundee went on to defeat three-time defending state champion Richmond in the finals.
Belding finished the year 17-9.
In Division 4, the Eagles reached Battle Creek for the first time since 2001. Carson City was a No. 7 seed and had to face No. 2 seed New Lothrop in the quarterfinals.
New Lothrop was too much and defeated the Eagles 45-18. New Lothrop ended up losing to eventual runner-up Hesperia in the semifinals.
Carson City finished the year 26-7.
No. 1 Dittenber leads 14 wrestlers as state placers
In all, 25 area wrestlers qualified for the individual state finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills in March.
In the end, out of 900 wrestlers in four divisions, 14 area wrestlers were able to finish their seasons on a podium with a medal around their necks.
Leading the way was Carson City-Crystal senior Kenneth Dittenber. Dittenber ended up falling in the 112 pound final in Division 4, but lost in overtime to Erie Mason’s Logan Griffin.
Dittenber finished the season 53-5, but had won state titles as a sophomore and junior.
Dittenber’s teammate Dillen Decker finished third and ended the season 51-7.
Fourth place finishers included Montabella’s Jonny Durham in Division 4 at 171 and finished 50-7. In Division 3, Belding’s Michael Walker finished fourth at 152 and ended his season 38-14.
Tri County’s Tommy Gilbert (103) and Greenville’s Michael Schmidt (112) each placed fifth. Gilbert, in Division 3, finished the season 49-10. Schmidt, in Division 2, finished his season 51-5.
Carson City-Crystal freshman Dallas O’Green placed sixth (119) in Division four. He finished 49-9. Montabella’s Logan Burns (160) also finished sixth and finished the year 43-9.
Greenville’s Alec Ward (130) placed seventh and finished 50-7. Belding’s Todd Haller (215) was seventh and finished his year 39-8.
In Division 4, Montabella’s Dan Davidson (285), Carson City-Crystals’ Darren Decker (152) and Garner Cusack (140) all finished eighth. Davidson finished 43-14, Decker 52-6 and Cusack 49-10. In Division 3, Central Montcalm’s Jesse Judge finished eighth at 189. He finished the year 45-9.
The area is definitely a hot bed and more success is expected in 2014, not only in wrestling, but with many team and individual accomplishments.