BELDING — It was a series of near misses, but in the end, Kelloggsville bested Tri County in the first round of the Divison 3 wrestling regionals 39-31 Wednesday.
After Kelloggsville gave up 12 points to voids, giving the Vikings a 28-18 lead, Tri County had an opportunity to get ahead enough to secure a team win and advance to the regional finals to face Whitehall, which beat Comstock Park in the other first round matchup.
But in the 171-pound match, pitting Tri County’s Ethan Rose and Kelloggsville’s Connor Moore, it was Moore who turned the momentum around with a 7-4 major decision (after being down 4-2 in the third period).
That pulled the Rockets to within seven points.
“We knew that was going to be a tough match. Saturday, Ethan finished third and (Moore) finished second. They didn’t wrestle each other then, but we knew that’d be a good match,” Vikings coach Corey Renner said. “So we lost five really close matches. We knew we needed that one. That hurt.”
The Rockets’ Donovon Spencer then pinned the Vikings’ Corbin Callendar in 44 seconds in the 189-pound match to draw Kelloggsville within one point of Tri County.
That set up perhaps the most entertaining matchup of the night for Tri County, with first-year wrestler Dionte Givens going up against Kelloggsville’s Alvin Hughes.
After nearly getting a pin that got the Vikings fans cheering loud, Hughes was managed to quickly roll out of the pin and put Givens in a compromising position, which led to a Kelloggsville pin in the second period.
“Dionte, that kid had steam. I didn’t think he had a prayer with that kid and he darn near pinned him,” Renner said. “This is his first year, he’s never done this sport before. We love him. He’s just so nice to have around. He has a great attitude.”
Givens said he thought for sure he had the pin.
“I just lost my footing and he turned it on me,” Given said. “But this season, I’ve felt great and I’m having fun.”
The Vikings had two more chances to pull out the win, but Lucas Prater was only able to get a major win against the Rockets’ Ben Garcia and the Vikings’ Maddie VonCleave was pinned by David Marsh, securing the Rockets victory.
The Vikings were missing 125-pound district champion Tanner Astrauskas to illness and his replacement, Austin Nelson, experienced dizziness during his match. Prater, meanwhile, wrestled despite a torn muscle.
Dakota Greer, Tri County’s undefeated wrestler (45-0) in the 119-pound division, earned the Vikings’ first team points with a 6-0 win over Damian Flores, though he was a little disappointed in his performance.
“I wasn’t happy with the match. I ran quite a bit today, my legs were a little tired and I’ve been a little sick. I still got the job done,” he said. “Normally I’d like to never stop scoring. I hate backing down at all. I feel like I definitely could’ve scored more points and hit it harder.”
ake Britton (135) got Tri County’s lone pin on the night, beating Roy Flores in 1:44 of the first period.
With the team season at an end, the Vikings will focus on individual regionals this coming weekend, with Greer, Astrauskas, Prater and Ben Behrenwald (145) headed to Delton Kellogg High School for a chance at the state finals.
“It’s been a nice season. It’s been a good effort, but just a little short of our goals,” Renner said. “With the guys coming back, they have to work all summer and try to be in the spring sport and fall sport and be ready next year. I feel pretty good overall.”