Vikings win team district tournament, earn seven individual regional berths
Grayling High School’s varsity wrestling squad clinched a district championship on Wednesday night with a 52-24 victory vs. the Boyne City Ramblers during the District 166-3 finals. Kalkaska High School hosted the meet.
The Vikings drew a bye in the semifinal round. In the other semifinal bracket, Boyne City defeated Kalkaska 59-19.
In the district finals, Grayling won by a final score of 52-24 vs. the Ramblers.
“Great effort tonight. I loved the intensity. Great start with Blue (Nick Bluemlein) and Joe (Armstrong) getting big wins. Zach (Duncan) wrestled well, losing a tight match. The momentum really changed in the dual when Shelby Thomas pinned her opponent. She was losing 2-1 at the time. Wins by Thomas May and Nick Green put the match out of reach for Boyne City. Tucker Mertes coming back from injury wrestled a tough match before losing. The dual ended with pins by Max (Halstead), Eli (Bindschatel), and Logan (Joseph),” Coach Andy Moore said.
Grayling High School will host the Region 117-3 team tournament on Wednesday, February 13, at 6 p.m.
“We are very excited about hosting team regionals. This is our chance to see what kind of team we have. Regional semifinal opponent should be Gladstone. They have ended our season in the last few years so we are (hoping) to get a win against them. If we get past them we will have highly ranked Chippewa Hills in the regional final,” Coach Moore said.
On Saturday, seven Grayling wrestlers finished high enough at individual districts to qualify for individual regionals, including three Vikings who won their weight divisions. Grayling High School hosted the Individual District 17-3 tournament.
“Seven qualifiers is awesome. We have the third most qualifiers in our region,” Coach Moore said.
May took 1st place in the 119-pound weight class. He won his first match of the day by pin vs. Benzie Central, putting him in the semifinals. May pinned a Chippewa Hills opponent to earn a spot in the finals. In the title match, May won a 13-7 decision to place 1st.
“Thomas decided last minute to drop a weight class and it paid off. He won in dominating fashion today,” Coach Moore said.
Halstead won his weight division – 145 pounds – earning a personal milestone along the way. Halstead won by technical fall vs. Kingsley during his first match at individual districts. In his next match, Halstead won a major decision 14-6 vs. a Big Rapids opponent; it was Halstead’s 100th career high school wrestling victory, a rare feat for someone in his junior season. In the championship bout, Halstead scored a pin vs. Benzie Central to win the 145-pound weight class.
“Max also won in dominating fashion. He also got his 100th, moving his career record to 101-20,” Coach Moore said.
Duncan finished 1st in the 103-pound division. He started his district tournament run with a pin vs. Boyne City. He won a 4-3 decision vs. Gladstone to earn a spot in the finals. In the title bout, he won an 8-6 decision vs. a different Gladstone wrestler.
“Zach Duncan wrestled the best I have seen all year to win the 103 weight class. Both his semifinals and finals matches were very exciting,” Coach Moore said.
Joseph finished 3rd in the 189-pound division. He started his day with a pin vs. Boyne City. In his next bout, Joseph lost vs. the eventual winner of the weight class from Chippewa Hills. Joseph pinned a Big Rapids wrestler to qualify for regionals. In his final bout of the day, the battle for 3rd/4th place, Joseph won a 4-0 decision vs. Reed City to place 3rd.
“Logan battled all day for a third place finish. His third place match was the best wrestling I’ve seen all season for Logan. He has set himself up nice for a long run this postseason,” Coach Moore said.
Bluemlein also took 3rd in his division (heavyweight). He lost his first match (vs. Kalkaska). Bluemlein pinned a Gladstone opponent. He won a 5-1 decision vs. Reed City to secure a spot in the 3rd/4th place bout. He won by pin vs. Ludington in his final match of the day to finish 3rd.
“Nick started off slow by losing his first match. He came back tough, winning three matches to take third,” Coach Moore said.
Armstrong finished 4th at 103. He pinned a Kingsley opponent during his first bout of the day. Armstrong lost by pin vs. Gladstone. He defeated a Boyne City wrestler by technical fall. In the battle for 3rd/4th place, Armstrong lost by pin vs. Gladstone.
“Joe had an up and down day. He dominated his first and third match while losing his semifinal and third place match. Joe still has a great chance to qualify for the state finals,” Coach Moore said.
Jordan Wakeley took 4th place at 130. He lost to an opponent from Kingsford to start his day. Wakeley won vs. Boyne City by pin. He pinned a Negaunee wrestler to earn a spot on the 3rd/4th place match. He lost by pin, finishing in 4th.
“Jordan was the surprise qualifier for us. All season Jordan never gave up in a match. It paid off Saturday as Jordan was down 8-1 going into the third period before he pinned his opponent late in the match,” Coach Moore said.
“Shelby Thomas, Nick Green, Tucker Mertes, Darrin Hawes, and Eli Bindschatel all were within one match of qualifying for regionals,” Coach Moore said. “Hate to see Eli’s career come to an end. He has so much heart. His never-quit attitude will be missed next season.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Region 9-3 individual tournament will be held at Kalkaska on Saturday, February 16.