AUBURN HILLS — Two years ago, as a freshman, Dakota Greer was on top of the world, winning an individual state wrestling title.
On Saturday evening, he relived that feeling, earning his second state individual title with a convincing 23-8 victory over Stuart Massa of Hemlock in the Division 3 119-pound title match at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
“It is the greatest feeling ever. I mean, it’s something you dream about, it’s that exciting,” said Greer, who finished the season undefeated with a 56-0 record. “It’s more of a relief to get this done because I’ve been so pumped up about this for so long. But it was just amazing.”
Greer, who missed last year’s final owing to a severe finger injury, won his first title his freshman year, beating Corunna’s Emilio Campos 9-6.
Greer said the comparison of winning that title to this year’s win is similar and different.
“I was talking with my coaches about that, wondering if it was going to be just as exciting as the first one. The first one I didn’t know I was good. I was just going out there to wrestle and whatever happened, happened,” Greer said. “This year, I knew I could do it. I just had to go out there and wrestle. It’s just as exciting (as the first one). Just the reality of the moment, especially after not being able to wrestle in the state tournament last year, I’ve just been striving to get back here and wanting that same feeling back of standing on top of the podium.”
The Michigan High School Athletics Association individual state wrestling finals, which started Thursday and ended Saturday night, was a showcase for how dominant Greer has been this year.
The Vikings junior was rated No. 1 in the 119-pound division and he showed why, thoroughly beating his opponents:
• Round 1: defeated Dylan Budd of Onsted by technical fall (18-2)
• Round 2: defeated Dakota Tatro of Millington by major decision (11-2)
• Championship semifinals: defeated Zach Young of Otisville-Lakeville Memorial 17-3
• defeated Stuart Massa of Hemlock by technical fall (23-8 in 4:53 minutes)
Vikings coach Corey Renner said Greer has been solid all year, but he admitted being a little nervous when Greer faced Young in the semifinals.
“I was a little nervous about that one, but then he wrestled really well,” Renner said. “(Young’s) dad said he’d only been taken down five or six times all year and he had wrestled the kid Dakota faced (Massa) and so I knew he should beat him, as long as everything went right.
“That’s the thing,” Renner added, “in this sport, so many things can go wrong, with injuries and fluke stuff. Everything has to fall into place in order for this to happen. It takes some luck, too.”
But Renner said no luck or any kinds of flukes had anything to do with how well and how dominant Greer was in the championship match.
“I was maybe a little worried the first 30 seconds. The kid looked like he did his homework because he knew what Dakota was going to do,” Renner said. “It wasn’t until the second takedown that I knew then he had this match because Dakota figures wrestlers out. I could tell he figured out what was going to work with that guy.”
Greer said the junior version of himself is much like the freshman version, with the only difference being the level of confidence he had.
“I’ve always had a full arsenal, but I wasn’t as confident with everything I got and confident with myself. I’ve been more confident this year,” he said. “Freshman year, I wouldn’t have done what I do now, where if I could score on top, I’d just ride him out, whereas now if I can’t score on top that I’m confident enough on my feet that if I cut him, give him a point, I know I can get that back and two more.”
Most of the eight points Massa scored was because Greer gave him the points to set himself up for a two- or three-point move, which he was able to do against Massa time and time again.
“The first takedown, I knew I had this match if I wrestled smart,” Greer said. “Once I got the first one down, I got the feel for him, and I knew what I could do.”
With another year left, Greer said he has one more goal.
“I want No. 3,” he laughed.
Renner said there have only been two other Tri County wrestlers to have three state individual titles.
“That’s his goal,” Renner said. “It’s been a good run, so far.”
Carson City-Crystal gets two state runners-up
The Carson City-Crystal Eagles were well represented in this year’s state individual wrestling tournament, having seven qualifiers, with two of them — freshman Jamison Ward (103) and sophomore Braxton Seida (140) — reaching the championship finals.
Ward came into the state individual wrestling finals with a 50-1 record and was one of the favorites going into the Division 4 103-pound tournament.
He made good on expectations, pinning two of the first three wrestlers he faced and beating Manchester’s Drew Gebhardt 6-2 in his second match.
In the championship finals, Ward faced Gebhardt’s teammate and No. 1-rated Division 4 103-pound wrestler, Reese Fry.
The Manchester junior (52-2) had already beaten Ward’s teammate, Nolan Datema, in the quarterfinals, and quickly went to work on Ward in the finals, going up 2-0 in the first period and almost pinned Ward in the second period, eventually winning 10-0.
Two of the three tournament wins Ward had were by pins, including pinning Bronson’s Ben Modert to advance to the title match.
Seida (52-6) ran into the same kind of wrestler as Ward had, with Springport senior Sean O’Hearon (46-0), also the No. 1-ranked wrestler in his tournament weight division.
Seida, who beat Zach Young of Hesperia 4-0 to advance to the title match, stuck with O’Hearon in early in the first period, but O’Hearon quickly gained points before the period ended.
Leading 10-4 going into the second period, O’Hearon continued scoring points and eventually earned a technical fall over Seida.
STATE INDIVIDUAL WRESTLING FINALS WRAP-UP
Belding had three qualifiers in Mitchell Ward (171), Jacyee Frisbie (215) and Tyler Smith (140). Both Ward and Frisbie finished sixth while Smith did not place.
Frisbie finished 3-2 in the tournament, while Ward, who was 3-3 on the weekend, provided great dramatics for his coach and father, Art Ward.
After losing a close battle in the opening round, Ward won his next two matches, including a blood round battle with Mount Morris’ Jesse Munsell, getting a quick move on Munsell to take the win.
Carson City-Crystal came into the state individual wrestling finals with seven qualifiers. Jamison Ward and Braxton Seida carried the Eagles flag into the championship round in their respective weights, but other Eagles wrestlers who did well were Daryn Shepler (119) and Nolan Datema (103), who both finished sixth.
Datema won his first two rounds and then lost to Reese Fry of Manchester, who faced Datema’s teammate, Jamison Ward, in the D4-103 title match.
Daniel Smith (171) and Brian Yeakey (189) each won a match.
As the only state qualifier from his school, Central Montcalm’s junior Jacob Scofield made it count, earning seventh place in the Division 3 119-pound bracket. He beat Birch Run’s Macintrye Breece 6-2 to earn a place.
Three out of the four Greenville state qualifiers placed, with Tren Bartrum (13) earning fifth place, while Stephen Hilliker (125) took sixth place and Dren Bartrum (152) took seventh.
De’Andre Sage (125) was Greenville’s other state qualifier, finishing 0-2 in the tournament.
It was a back-and-forth kind of weekend for Lakeview’s lone state finals representative Curtis Perry (103), as he won his first match, lost his second, won his third match, lost his fourth and finished out the day beating Katlyn Pizzo of Clawson to finish in seventh place in his weight class.
The Mustangs had two representatives at the state wrestling individual finals. Carson Dalrymple (112) lost both his matches while teammate Ethan Crawford (119) went 1-2 during the tournament.
Crawford’s last match, with Bad Axe’s Ryan Wehner, was a heartbreaker, as he had Wehner almost pinned before time expired, but lost 9-8.
All four of the Vikings’ state finals qualifiers earned hardware, finishing eighth or better in their respective weight division.
Aside from Dakota Greer’s amazing year, topping it off with a state title, Lucas Prater (285) took on the bigger grapplers, wrestling in a higher weight class, and took home third place, pinning Mike Nykoriak of Algonac in his final match.
Prater, who had to go through 6-foot, 8-inch tall John Zoscsak of Mason County Central to get to the third place finals, said he listened to some fellow state qualifiers to help him beat his bigger foes
Ben Behrenwald (145) perhaps had the roughest weekend of all local wrestlers, who won two matches by disqualification, where he suffered an injury in both.
In his last match, against Whitehall’s Allen Powers, Behrenwald suffered a collarbone injury from an illegal move by Powers, automatically disqualifying him and giving Behrenwald the win.
The other Viking that placed was Tanner Astrauskas (125), taking eighth place.