Historic: Niles wrestling wins first Division 2 Regional championshipPublished 10:46pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013
MATTAWAN — The Niles wrestling team lived up to its No. 3 ranking Wednesday at the Division II team wrestling regional.
The Vikings beat five-time defending regional champion Lakeshore, 38-31, to claim their first regional title since 1960. It’s the first regional title for Niles (33-1) under the current format, which started in 1988.
Niles advances to the state quarterfinals Feb. 22 at 7:45 p.m. at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
Niles advanced into the finals after beating Jackson Parma Western, 39-26, in the semifinals. The Vikings avenged a 34-32 loss to the Panthers last year in the regional semifinals.
Neither of Niles’ matches were as close as the score indicated. For health reasons, the Vikings forfeited its final four matches against Lakeshore and forfeited its final three matches against Parma Western.
“I don’t know where to begin at,” said Niles coach Todd Hesson. “I realize the world of wrestling is probably a very small drop in the bucket, but, for Niles wrestling, it’s quite a big stone. We’ve worked at winning this since we lost last year (in the regional semifinals). Winning was probably anticlimactic forfeiting those matches, but I’ve got to do what’s best for the kids. We’re a little banged up. It was a great win. I want to thank my assistant coaches. They made me look good. We’ve also had a fantastic fanbase all year long that has given us a lot of energy.”
Niles jumped out to a 32-0 lead against Lakeshore with Ted Jackowiak (189), Derek Scott (285) and Courtland Lamberton (103) picking up pins for the Vikings. Sean Craig picked up a 15-0 win at 171 pounds to get the finals started in great fashion for Niles.
Ryan Casey was bumped up to 215 pounds and recorded a 7-5 overtime win over Sebastein Avello and Nicholas Zimmerman, picking up an escape point as time expired in the third period, edged Aaron Ward, 7-6. Noah Hall’s pin at 135 gave Niles a 38-7 lead to clinch the regional crown for the Vikings.
“Sean Craig had a great night,” Hesson said. “Then we switched Ted Jackowiak, and we used him in both matches tonight and he had big pins. Ryan Casey did a good job beating Avello at 215. Then it kind of snowballed from there. Even some of our backups at 125 and 130 wrestled really well. We were able to move Noah Hall up to 135, and he got a pin.”
Casey improved to 49-0 with his two wins on Wednesday.
“This really means a lot,” said Casey about winning the regional title. “We’ve really worked hard for this. It’s great to have this regional title.”
Casey trailed 5-4 entering the third period.
“It was a tough match,’ Casey said. “I was behind early, and my thought process was that I had to do whatever I could to win for my brothers, who were cheering me on.”
Niles led Parma Western, 39-8 in the semifinals, before forfeiting the final three matches. Hall’s pin in 1:52 at 130 gave the Vikings a 33-8 lead to clinch the match.
Against the Panthers, Niles got pins from Jerrico Lamberton (160), Casey (215) and Kevin Reed (135).
“It’s the kids,” Hesson added about winning a regional. “They’ve 100-percent bought into what the coaches have taught them. There’s not a rolling of the eyes when we tell them something. Even tonight with the forfeits and the backup kids we put in, our wrestlers don’t care. They just go out and wrestle in matches and in practice..”
Division 2 Team Regional
171: Sean Craig (N) t.f. Craig Fowler, 15-0
189: Ted Jackowiak (N) p. Gabe Gembralla, 3:20
215: Ryan Casey (N) d. Sebastian Avello, 7-5 (OT)
285: Derek Scott (N) p. Herb Ward, 2:26
103: Courtland Lamberton (N) p. Trey Cueller, 2:26
112: Brendon Meek (N) d. Nathan Weber, 11-7
119: Nicholas Zimmerman (N) d. Aaron Ward, 7-6
125: Patrick Brommel (L) m.d. Justin Jones, 9-0
130: Noah Hanau (L) d. Josh Dayhuff, 7-3
135: Noah Hall (N) p. Shane Peirce, 2:54
140: Dustin Clapp (L) won by forfeit
145: Gunner Harrison (L) won by forfeit;
152: Jalend Coleman (L) won by forfeit
160: J.P. McDougal (L) won by forfeit