AUBURN HILLS — With each wrestler that walked onto the mats at the state individual wrestling finals, there is a story of hard work, dedication as well as triumph and heartbreak.
The story of numbers goes to Carson City-Crystal, which brought seven players to the finals — Jamison Ward (103 pounds), Nolan Datema (103), Daryn Shepler (119), Braxton Seida (140), Spencer Shook (152), Daniel Smith (171) and Daniel Yeakey (189).
After Friday’s rounds, however, four remain — Ward and Seida both won out their matches and will compete for the title in their respective weight divisions, while Datema and Shepler are still alive in the consolation rounds.
“I have to win not just for me, but for my dad, my family, and my school,” said Seida after beating Hesperia’s Zach Young in the Division 4 140-pound championship semifinals Friday. “I’m a little tired, but it feels amazing.”
Last year, Seida made it to the state individual finals but lost both his first two matches. Seida cites his improved offensive attack for getting far in this year’s state finals.
“I’m more on the offense,” Seida said. “As my coach told me all year long, a good offense is a great defense.”
A couple of fathers who are also coaches shared a great moment with their sons Friday.
Carson City-Crystal assistant coach Trent Ward, freshman Jamison Ward’s father and 1994 state champion at the 119-pound level has enjoyed watching his son dominate the Division 4 103-pound class, getting three wins, two by pins.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s been kind of mine and J’s dream to get him here,” Trent said about his son. “It is crazy. It’s something I thought it would be just real fun, but it’s a lot of work and a lot of stress. I thought it was bad enough when you’re coaching kids that aren’t mine. It’s been a fun, fun year.”
Another proud father, Belding coach Art Ward, celebrated an electrifying blood-round win with his son, Mitchell Ward, in the Division 3 171-pound class.
Mitchell lost his first match but earned his way into a consolation place with two consecutive wins, beating out Mount Morris’ Jesse Munsell on a quick move in the blood round to get the win in his last match Friday.
“He’s got a heck of a gas tank. He’s been reluctant to take a shot and he’s got a nice double, and he’s finally figured out he can use it, and it wasn’t too late,” Art Ward said of his son.
Being able to see his son place at the state wrestling finals, something Mitchell missed last year, has been a special thing for Art Ward this year.
“It’s bittersweet. Sometimes I have to be the hard-nosed coach, but sometimes I get to be the first one to hug him when he gets off the mat,” Ward said of his son. “There’s a lot of dramatics from this kid.”
Another emotional story came from Tri County’s 125-pound wrestler Tanner Astrauskas, who found out only a day before the finals his best friend died unexpectedly.
Astrauskas lost his first match by a pin to Clare’s Amante Young, but managed two wins by outscoring Alec Ziza of Richmond and John Botkins of Caro, 4-2 and 5-0, respectively.
Vikings coach Corey Renner has commended his wrestler for dealing with a loss of a friend and trying to focus on the state finals at the same time.
“He’s had to put a lot of focus in, more than expected,” Renner said. “His last match is where he started to look normal again. He had a lot of confidence three days ago but it took some time to get his head back into it. He’s done really good considering …”
Astrauskus’ teammate, Dakota Greer, who came into the finals undefeated at 51-0, remains undefeated after Friday. Last year, an injury kept Greer from participating in the finals, so this year he said he is hungry.
“I’m not done yet. I want that second title, that’s for sure,” Greer said after his 17-3 win over Otisville-Lakeville Memorial’s Zach Young in the championship semifinals. “I’m excited, nervous and I’m ready to get it done.”
Renner had nothing but praise for Greer.
“It’s been awesome, it’s an honor to watch him,” Renner said. “I’m proud as heck he’s here at Tri County. He represents us well. Just a great kid.”
Complete results for 21 area state qualifiers
125: Stephen Hilliker — Champ. 1st Rd: lost 8-6 to Ethan Bishop of Battle Creek. Con. 1st Rd: Beat Joe Eisho of Hazel Park by major decision, 10-2. Con. 2nd Rd: Beat Nick Matusko of Chelsea, 4-3. Con. 3rd Rd: vs. Nick Matusko of Chelsea Saturday.
125: De’Andre Sage — Champ. 1st Rd: Lost to Nick Matusko of Chelsea, 4-3. Con. 1st Rd: Lost to Jayden Rittenbury of Fenton. Tournament record: 0-2. Final record: 41-10. Place: DNP.
130: Tren Bartrum — Champ. 1st Rd: Won by bye. Champ. 2nd Rd: Beat Robert Nowik of Armada. Champ. 3rd Rd: Lost to Chris Fauson, Charlotte pinned 1:09. Con. 3rd round Saturday.
152: Dren Bartrum — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Malik Davis of Kearsley 6-3. Champ. 2nd Rd: Lost to Sam York of DeWitt by pin in round three. Con. 2nd round: Beat Cody Carlisle of STLA 10-4. Con. 3rd round: vs. Tanner Beach of Jackson Saturday.
140: Tyler Smith — Champ. 1st Rd: Lost to Austin Palmateer of Gladwin 6-1. Con. 1st Rd: Lost to Richie Wallis of Montrose by pin (4:08). Tournament record: 0-2. Final record: 34-20. Place: DNP.
171: Mitchell Ward — Champ. 1st Rd: Lost to Jay Thrush of Farwell 5-3. Con. 1st Rd: Beat Xavier Herman of Croswell-Lexington. Con. 2nd Rd: Beat Jesse Munsell of Mount Morris SV-1 5-3. Con. 3rd Rd: vs. Austin Demeuse of Gladwin Saturday.
215: Jaycee Frisbie — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Billy Koepf of Chippewa Hills by pin (1:06). Champ. 2nd Rd: Lost to Luke Cortez of Corunna 4-3. Con. 2nd Rd: Beat Jack Thayer of Corunna 7-4. Con. 3rd Rd: vs. Justin Bloom of WILA Saturday.
119: Dakota Greer — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Dylan Budd of Onsted TF 18-2. Champ. 2nd Rd: Beat Dakota Tatro of Millington MD 11-2. Champ. 3rd Rd: Beat Zach Young, Ottsville-Lakeville Memorial 17-3. Cham. finals: vs. Stuart Massa of Hemlock Saturday.
125: Tanner Astrauskas — Champ. 1st Rd: Lost to Amante Young of Clare by pin (2:14). Con. 1st Rd: Beat Alec Ziza of Richmond 4-2. Con. 2nd Rd: Beat John Botkins of Caro 5-0. Con. 3rd Rd: vs. Reese Wallis of Montrose Saturday.
145: Ben Behrenwald — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Devon Bournonville of Menominee 7-2. Champ. 2nd Rd: Lost to Tylor Orrison of Dundee by pin (5:16). Con. 2nd Rd: Beat Paul Scaramuzzino of Croswell-Lexington by disqualification. Cons. 3rd Rd: vs. Alex Roberts of Richmond Saturday.
285: Lucas Prater — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Mason Frederick of Gladwin by pin (59 seconds). Champ. 2nd Rd: Lost to Jaykob Shaw of Imlay City 4-3. Con. 2nd Rd: Beat Michael Pizziola of Negaunee 4-2. Con. 3rd Rd: vs. Esteban Villaobos of DELT Saturday.
119: Jordan Schofield — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Daniel Jaworski of Dundee 10-5. Champ. 2nd Rd: Lost to Stuart Massa of Hemlock 6-5. Con. 2nd Rd: Beat Travis McDonald of Meridian Early College 1-0. Con. 3rd Rd: vs. Christian Killian of Dundee Saturday.
103: Curtis Perry — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Jack Demara by pin (1:58). Champ. 2nd Rd: Lost to Jordan Rodriguez of Chesaning by pin 2:34. Con. 2nd Rd: Beat Kanon Atwell of Lake Odessa 5-1. Con. 3rd Rd: vs. Sam Baustert of WHTH Saturday.
103: Jamison Ward — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Connor Marshall of Dansville by pin (53 seconds). Champ. 2nd Rd: Beat Drew Gebhardt of Manchester 6-2. Champ. 3rd Rd: Pinned Ben Modert of Bronson. Champ. finals: vs. Reese Fry of Manchester Saturday.
103: Nolan Datema — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Cody Sanchez of MARL by major decision (12-3). Champ. 2nd Rd: Beat Cameron Demory of Mio by pin (1:46). Champ. 3rd Rd: vs. winner of Drew Gebhardt of Manchester and Zachary Goss of Vassar.
119: Daryn Shepler — Cham. 1st Rd: Beat Ryan Wehner of Bad Axe 4-3. Champ. 2nd Rd: Lost to Jordan Hamdan of Hudson TF 19-3. Con. 3rd Rd: vs. winner of Moten of Flint Beecher or Wehner of Bad Axe.
140: Braxton Seida — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Zach Lefler of Mayville by forfeit. Champ. 2nd Rd: Beat Justin Cole of Leroy Pine River 15-0. Champ. 3rd Rd: Beat Zach Young of Hesperia 4-0. Champ. finals: vs. Sean O’Hearon of Springport.
152: Spencer Shook — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Antonio Raona of Oscoda 9-7. Champ. 2nd Rd: Lost to Bryant Moore of SAND 7-2. Con. 2nd Rd: Lost to Wyatt Dickson of Cass City 5-1. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 15-6. Placed: DNP.
171: Daniel Smith — Champ. 1st Rd: Lost to Hunter Rummler of White Pine. Con. 1st Rd: Beat Clay Myers of Frankfurt by forfeit. Con. 2nd Rd: Lost to Ethan Weatherspoon of Napoleon 3-2. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 41-17. Placed: DNP.
189: Daniel Yeakey — Champ. 1st Rd: Lost to Chase Gibson of Bronson 3-1. Con. 1st Rd: Lost to Charlie Hass of Bad Axe 4-1. Tournament record: 0-2. Final record: 15-7. Placed: DNP.
112: Carson Dalrymple — Champ. 1st Rd: Lost to Christian Minard of Clinton 7-2. Con. 1st Rd: Lost to Ash Stokes of MARC 15-0. Tournament record: 0-2. Final record: 39-16. Placed: DNP.
119: Ethan Crawford — Champ. 1st Rd: Beat Tommy Malloy of NEWL 6-5. Con. 1st Rd: Lost to Spencer Good of JAXL 19-6. Con. 2nd Rd: Lost to Ryan Wehner of Bad Axe 9-8. Tournament record: 1-2. Final record: 15-6. Placed: DNP.