Dowagiac’s Tristan Howard was the only Chieftains to pick up a pair of wins in the season opener against Otsego and Watervliet. (Leader photo/File)

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Niles wrestlers win pair; Chieftains split

Published 11:15pm Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Niles wrestling team dominated, while Dowagiac bounced back after a rough start at Wednesday’s quad meet at Dowagiac High School.

The 10th-ranked Vikings (Division II) rolled past Watervliet, 63-11, and powered past eighth-ranked (Division III) Otsego, 51-19. The Chieftains fell to Otsego, 62-6, to start the meet and ended the evening with a 39-36 win over Watervliet.

It was the season-opener for Niles and Dowagiac.

The Vikings bring plenty of experience and talent to the mat this season and fans got an early peak Wednesday of how good Niles might be this season. Niles lost only two letterwinners off last year’s district title squad.

“It’s not bad,” said Niles coach Todd Hesson. “It’s the first matches and we’ve got some solid kids. Every team is still trying to put together their lineup with kids getting down to weight and you also got some kids a little banged up. Our kids wrestled well. We let a couple matches get away from us. The Otsego win was a nice win for us and Watervliet is a solid program. I was happy. It was a good day.”

Fritzel Findeisen help lead No. 10-ranked Niles to wins over Watervliet and No. 8 (Division 3) Otsego Wednesday in the season opener. (Leader photo/File)

Against Watervliet, Niles got pins from 103-pounder Courtland Lamberton, 125-pounder Josh Dayhuff, 152-pounder Fritzel Findeisen, 160-pounder Jericho Lamberton, 171-pounder Sean Craig and 189-pounder Ryan Casey. Casey Burandt won 6-0 at 145 pounds and Noah Hall (135), Warren Smith (140), Ted Jackowiak (215) and Derek Scott (285) won by forfeit.

Burandt, Findeisen and Casey were state qualifiers last year for the Vikings.

“We’ve got a nice mix,” Hesson said. “We’ve got five or six seniors and we have a lot of sophomores and a couple juniors,” Hesson said. “Our freshman at 103 had a good night. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but so does everybody.”

In its match against Otsego, Niles got pins from Courtland Lamberton, 119-pounder Nicholas Zimmerman, Hall, Burandt, Findeisen, Craig, Casey and Scott. Jericho Lamberton won his match, 4-2.

Dowagiac claimed a win against Watervliet after getting a forfeit win from Matt Lyle in the final match at 140-pounds.

The Chieftains, who once led in the match, 33-3, also got wins from 152-pounder Caleb Sands, 160-pounder Tom Smith, 171-pounder Jacob Davis, 189-pounder Troy Ring, 215-pounder Rolando Lucio and 285-pounder Tristan Howard, Sands, Davis, Ring and Lucio recorded pins.

Howard was the lone Chieftain to record a win against Otsego. He recorded a pin in 1:08.

“I’m very happy for the young men,” said Dowagiac coach Matt Alward after his team showed resiliency and beat Watervliet. “We’ve got one senior in the lineup. Everybody else is either a freshman or sophomore. Watervliet is coming off a good season and they’ve got some good kids over there. We wrestled as good as I could imagine. It was unexpected. I didn’t know if we were going to get a win or not. I knew our kids we’re going to come out and wrestle hard. We put ourselves in postion to win and our kids came out and executed.”

Despite not getting wins, Alward was happy with his team’s competitiveness against Otsego.

“We knew what Otsego had,” Alward said. “They’re a great wrestling team. They’re going to compete for the conference title and for a spot in the state meet this year. They’ve got a lot of upperclassmen and ranked kids. My message to our team was to wrestle for six minutes as hard as they could. I was extremely impressed with the way our kids wrestled. They didn’t whimper or whine. They wrestled as hard as they could. Some kids got caught and pinned, but for the most part we wrestled for six minutes. That’s all you could ask for against (Otsego). What a great opportunity to wrestle against a team like Otsego to make ourselves better.”

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