BELDING — Belding’s wrestling team knew they had a tough opponent to face in the finals of the Division 3 district they were hosting Thursday night.
They also went into the meet with a big component missing.
The result was a 44-24 loss to Grand Rapids Catholic Central in the final.
“We told the guys exactly what they were supposed to do,” Belding coach Travis Meyer said. “We knew exactly what each guy had to do at each weight class. We had a good guess at their lineup. Unfortunately, we had a kid with a broken hand at practice (Wednesday night), we had an overtime loss that could have gone either way, we have a kid that was wrestling a great match that got caught. 20 points, even though it looks bad, any coach knows how to shave some and add some.”
The Redskins got to the finals after having no problems with Grand Rapids West Catholic 70-8. Catholic Central had a bye in the semifinals.
Then when the Falcons were dispatched, the Cougars, ranked fourth in the state in Division 3, went down early after getting a pin in the first match.
The Redskins scored in the next three matches to take a 15-6 lead, only to see Catholic Central go on a 15-3 run in the next four to take the lead.
103-pound wrestler Max Walker of Belding then tied the match back up with a 3-0 win over Recce DiGiovanna.
“Max at 103 has come a heck of a long way from the worst stance I’ve ever seen to winning matches,” Meyer said. “Some kids catch matches all the time and beat kids better than them, but he’s to the point where he wrestles six minutes. All the kids love him. It’s fun to see him do well.”
However, the only win Belding would get after that was Jesse Scheidel winning his 130-pound match.
Meyer said things could have been different if he had his 125-pounder, Nate Cooley. Cooley was the wrestler with a broken right hand.
“He (Cooley) was matched up with a great kid,” Meyer said. “I think it would have been a minor decision either way. So we would have saved at least two points and maybe even picked up three instead and that would have been an eight-point swing there. It’s a shame. I feel bad for him when it comes to Saturday though.”
Saturday is the individual district tournament. The Redskins were disappointed not to win a second district championship but will look ahead to Saturday, Meyer said.
“Everybody’s bummed but the kids know who’s wrestling on Saturday and they have an opportunity to wrestle for three more weeks. We’re practicing for three more weeks anyways. We lose one senior out of our lineup and I think 98 percent of our team is ready to try again next year.”