Wrestling team takes first place during 10-team tournament hosted by the Vikings
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The varsity wrestling team from Grayling High School took first place in the Grayling Invitational on Saturday, posting a 5-0 overall record during the event and clinching the championship of the tournament with a close win vs. the Falcons of West Branch Ogemaw Heights.
The Grayling Invitational featured 10 teams divided into two five-team pools. The Vikings were in a group with Traverse City St. Francis, Onaway, Manton, and Whittemore-Prescott. The other pool consisted of Frankfort, Oscoda, Gaylord JV, Mancelona, and Ogemaw Heights.
Each team battled the other four squads in its pool. In the championship round, the top two teams battled for first place, the two second place squads faced off for third/fourth overall, the third place teams battled for fifth/sixth, the fourth place schools wrestled to determine seventh and eighth place, and the fifth place teams battled for ninth/10th.
Grayling won all four of its pool play matches, starting with a battle vs. Traverse City St. Francis. The Vikings vs. Gladiators series featured only three contested matches.
Thomas May (112), Nick Green (119), and Andrew Hopkins (125) won by forfeit for GHS vs. St. Francis. After two double voids (130 and 135), Cole Hibbard (140) won by default. Grayling led 24-0.
Traverse City St. Francis won a 16-2 decision at 145. Darrin Hawes (152) won for Grayling by forfeit. The Gladiators won 9-7 by decision at 160. At 171, Logan Joseph won by default vs. TCSF. Tyler Withers (189) and Reece Ferrigan (215) also won by forfeit. St. Francis won the heavyweight division by pin. Zach Duncan (103), in the last weight class of the series, won by default for the Vikings.
The final score was Grayling 54, Traverse City St. Francis 13.
Next, Onaway. The Cardinals won by pin at 119. Hopkins won by forfeit at 125. Onaway scored a pin at 130. The Vikings forfeited at 135. Neither team had a wrestler at 140. Onaway won a 6-5 decision at 145. The Cardinals scored a pin at 152.
Onaway led 27-6 halfway through the series.
Parker Dole (160) won by forfeit for Grayling. Joseph (171) pinned his Onaway counterpart in the first round. Withers (189) won by default. Ferrigan (215) pinned his opponent in the first round. Nick Bluemlein, at heavyweight, also won by pin in round one vs. Onaway. Duncan (103) won by pin in the first round. May (112) won by forfeit.
Grayling defeated Onaway by a final score of 48-27.
The Vikings battled the Manton Rangers during the third round of pool play.
Hopkins (125) and Hibbard (130) gave Grayling a 12-0 lead with two wins by pin (both in the first round). The Vikings forfeited at 135 and 140.
Max Halstead (145) won by pin vs. Manton in round one. Hawes (152) also pinned his Rangers counterpart in the first round. Dole (160) won a 10-0 decision for four team points. Joseph (171) pinned his Manton opponent in the second round. The Rangers won a 10-7 decision at 189.
Grayling led 34-15 with five weight classes remaining.
Ferrigan (215) pinned his Manton opponent in the third round. The Rangers won the heavyweight division by pin. Duncan (103) and May (112) both won by forfeit. Manton won by pin at 119 during the last bout of the series.
The Vikings won 52-27, improving to 3-0 in pool play with one match to go. The Vikings did not wrestle during round four.
The winner of the Grayling vs. Whittemore-Prescott series in round five would advance to the tournament’s championship match.
The Vikings forfeited at 135 and 140, giving the Cardinals an early 12-0 lead. Halstead (145) pinned his Whittemore-Prescott opponent in the second round. The Cardinals won by pin at 152. Dole (160) won a 10-2 decision for the Vikings. Whittemore-Prescott won by decision, 14-3, at 171. The Cardinals led 22-10.
Withers (189) won a close match, earning three team points with a 4-3 victory by decision. Ferrigan scored a quick pin at 215. Whittemore-Prescott won by pin at heavyweight.
With five weight classes remaining, the Cardinals led 28-19.
Duncan (103) pinned his Whittemore-Prescott counterpart early in the first round. May (112) and Green (119) both won by forfeit.
Two weight classes remained – 125 and 130 – and Grayling did not have a wrestler for 130. The Vikings led 37-28 and needed a victory at 125 in order to win their pool and get into the championship match.
Hopkins won a 15-9 decision at 125 for Grayling vs. Whittemore-Prescott, securing a victory for the Vikings. Grayling forfeited at 130.
The final score was Vikings 40, Cardinals 34.
Grayling battled Ogemaw Heights during the last series of the tournament in order to determine first and second place overall.
The Vikings forfeited at 140. Halstead (145) won by forfeit. Ogemaw Heights won by pin at 152. The Falcons won by technical fall (15-point scoring differential), 17-1, at 160 for five team points.
Ogemaw Heights led 17-6.
Joseph (171) won by pin in the second round. Withers (189), leading a close match late, scored a pin in the third round to give Grayling an 18-17 lead.
Ferrigan (215) and Bluemlein (heavyweight) both won by default. Duncan (103) pinned his Ogemaw Heights counterpart in the first round. The Falcons won an 8-6 decision at 112. The Vikings forfeited at 119. Ogemaw Heights won by pin at 125.
Grayling led 36-32.
There were two weight classes remaining: 130 and 135. The Vikings, again, had Hopkins left and then a void. Grayling needed a win from its last remaining competitor.
Hopkins won a 17-5 decision at 130, clinching a series win vs. Ogemaw Heights and a first place finish for the Vikings in the tournament overall. Grayling forfeited at 135, and the Vikings edged the Falcons 40-38.
Coach Andy Moore said it was “a crazy day” overall and expected a challenge in the final round vs. Ogemaw Heights.
“We knew it was going to be tight. We knew it was going to be a battle,” Coach Moore said. “Tyler Withers was the key with that pin at the end. We were going to get a three-point win and got six. That was the difference.”
Regarding the final contested match featuring a win by Hopkins?
“Andrew’s peaking at the right time. He’s won the last two duals for us,” Coach Moore said. “Exciting.”
The Vikings will compete in the Ithaca Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 20. Grayling will host a meet on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 6 p.m.