AUBURN HILLS — The Michigan High School Athletic Association individual wrestling tournament is an exhilarating three-day weekend full of joy and heartbreak.
Overall, the area had 26 wrestlers earn their way through a grueling team regular season and then individual district and regional tournaments to reach the state finals. In the end, 12 of those wrestlers placed at least eighth in their respective weight classes and divisions.
Greenville senior Alec Ward led the charge with a runner-up finished in Division 2 at 140 pounds. Prior to the tournament, Ward had to decide whether to wrestle at 140 or 145.
His decision turned out to be a good one.
“Toward the end of the season my weight was really light and I figured if I went 145 I would be giving up a lot of weight,” he said. “I wasn’t cutting weight to get to 140. So I would have had to gain a lot of weight to wrestle 145. I decided I would go 140 no matter who else did.”
Ultimately, a championship at 140 pounds would go through St. Johns’ Zac Hall (52-0). Hall defeated Ward in the regional tournament and did so again in the final match by major decision 12-2.
The match, though, was closer than the score would indicate.
“It wasn’t a major until the end. I tried to throw him at the end for a win and he ended up putting me to my back and I gave up five points,” Ward said. “I was running out of time and had to go for it.”
Ward won his first three matches, including his semifinal match in dramatic fashion against Bay City Western’s Christian Schoenherr in overtime 9-8.
“I had two close early matches and was up by a lot,” Ward said. “I ended up going to my back in both and gave up a bunch of points and that is what made it scary. I think I finished the matches well.”
After placing fifth as a sophomore and seventh as a junior, Ward was ecstatic with his runner-up finish as a senior.
“I was so excited just to be in the finals. I couldn’t sleep the night before,” Ward said. “I’m not disappointed. It was awesome. Words don’t even explain it.”
Ward finished the season 45-4 and his career with 183 wins.
Also placing in Divison 2 was Ward’s senior teammate Will Parmelee.
Parmelee, a state qualifier for the first time, placed seventh at 130 pounds. He closed out his wrestling career with a final match win against Fremont’s Luke Spotts by decision 6-4.
Parmelee went 3-2 in the tournament and finished the season 41-8.
In Division 3, the area had four wrestlers place.
Tri County’s Nick McGhan led the way with a fourth place finish at 103. McGhan lost to Richie Ostrander of Chippewa Hills by decision 8-5 in the third place match.
McGhan was one of four wrestlers that reached the semifinals. He lost a tight match to Tristan Serbus of Corunna by decision 3-1.
“It feels great, but I’m not satisfied yet,” McGhan said after his quarterfinal win. “I want to be at the top of the podium this year. I have to keep working hard to make my dreams come true.”
The sophomore finished the tournament 3-2 and the season 49-4.
The Lakeview Wildcats had both of its state qualifiers place.
At 125, Lakeview freshman Nolan Saxton defeated Anthony Pizzo of Clawson with a 13-7 decision to place seventh.
Saxton went 3-2 in the tournament and finished the season 30-7.
At 152, Lakeview senior Terry Grieser placed eighth after falling to Cody Sanders of Lake Fenton by decision 8-2.
After losing in the blood round (a win guarantees a place in that round) last year, Grieser earned all-state honors. He went 2-3 in the tournament and finished the season 43-6.
Central Montcalm senior Cody Veltkamp placed eighth for the Hornets at 119 pounds.
Veltkamp fell to Jared Corcoran of Lake Fenton by technical fall. Veltkamp went 2-3 in the tournament and finished the season 40-10.
Both the Carson City-Crystal Eagles and Montabella Mustangs had three of its five wrestlers place.
At 125, Eagles sophomore Dallas O’Green had to work his way back from a quarterfinal loss all the way to a third place finish. In doing so, Green earned revenge on Adrian-Madison’s Austin Wilt.
Wilt ended O’Green’s championship hopes with an overtime decision 5-3 in the quarterfinals. O’Green, though, defeated Wilt in the final match by decision 8-2 to place third.
“I think he wrestled a lot better. He was more aggressive and attacked,” Eagles coach Kacy Datema said of O’Green’s third place match. “Dallas set the pace in the second match and dictated what went on and saw better results for it.”
O’Green went 5-1 in the tournament and finished the season 46-4.
At 145, junior Darren Decker reached the semifinals and finished in fifth place.
Decker lost by decision 4-2 to Lutheran Westland’s Zach Francis in the semifinals. After a consolation semifinal loss, Decker came back to win his final match over Montabella’s Zach Taubitz (fall at 1:56).
Decker went 3-2 in the tournament and finished 45-4 overall.
At 152, junior Dillon Decker placed fourth after falling to Saginaw Nouvel’s Austin Hughes by decision 4-0.
Decker went 4-2 in the tournament and finished the season 42-4 for the season.
For Montabella, Taubitz, a junior, placed fifth at 145 following the loss to Decker.
Taubitz finished the tournament 3-3 and the season 35-11.
At 171, senior Jonny Durham placed fifth with a 14-7 decision over Sand Creek’s Roger Fox. Durham lost his first match of the tournament and battled back to finish the tournament 4-2.
Durham finished the season 39-5.
At 285, senior Dan Davidson reached the semifinals. He lost by fall to Hillsdale’s Nate Boardman (runner-up).
Davidson went on to finish the tournament 3-2 with a final match win over Kent City’s Tom Devos by decision 3-2. Davidson finished the season 30-6.