Smith, Vikings stand tall as Niles falls to LowellPublished 9:19am Sunday, February 23, 2014
BATTLE CREEK — Though the Niles Vikings wrestling team’s impressive run in the state tournament and stellar season came to an end Saturday morning at the hands of the eventual state champions, Lowell, not one Vikings’ head in the entire Kellogg Arena was hung low.
Niles was defeated by the Red Arrows 43-16 in the Division 2 MHSAA Team State semifinals.
“We knew coming in today just how tough our opponent was going to be for us. Lowell is a very talented group and I could go on and on about how talented they are,” Niles coach Todd Hesson said. “But we saw it on the mat. It is fun wrestling them. As a coach, you watch and pick up on things. At that point as a coach, you work on toughness with the team.”
That toughness was on display in the form of victories by freshman Mitchell Findiesen, who defeated his ranked opponent, Derek Krajewski, in a wild bout that saw the young Viking rally from five points down with less than 30 seconds remaining to take the match up 11-10.
“You can’t say enough about Mitch,” Hesson said. “A freshman wrestling a state-ranked senior, and he just doesn’t worry about it. That’s what is great about being young; you just go, and you don’t worry about it.”
The aforementioned toughness was further displayed by junior stand out Warren Smith; who was one of only two Vikings to go undefeated (Noah Hall being the other) on the weekend.
Smith scored a pin-fall win on Friday evening against Byron Center’s Collin Busing; he then followed that performance up with an impressive display on the mat against Lowell’s Eli Boulton, scoring a major decision with an 11-2 performance.
“Warren Smith is a phenomenal kid. He doesn’t say anything and just works every day. He worked his way into a captain spot this year. He leads by example,” Hesson said.
“I had a pretty good weekend. I had fun hanging out with the team and bonding. I wrestled pretty good and I thought we really showed what we were made of as a team,” a visibly proud Smith said. “I couldn’t have asked for better teammates, coaches or season.”
Though their team season may now be over, Hesson said there was nothing to be displeased with as things came to a close.
“We had an excellent day, excellent weekend and really an excellent year.”
Despite Saturday’s results, Niles still has some business to handle on the mat; as it will send a few wrestlers, including Smith, to the Palace of Auburn Hills next weekend to participate in the individual portion of the state tournament.
“It’s going to be tough, but that’s the way we like it around here. It’s a challenge and our kids will be ready to rise up to meet it,” Hesson said.
Division 2 Wrestling
Niles — 16
Lowell — 43
103: Lucas Hall (L) t.f. Over Andrew Flick 17-2; 112: Brendon Meek (N) won by forfeit; 119: Zeth Dean (L) d. Josh Dayhuff 14-3; 125: Mitch Findeisen (N) d. Derek Krajewski 11-10; 130: Bailey Jack (L) d. Darek Bullock-Mills 9-4; 135: Jordan Hall (L) p. Devonte Gaskill :42; 140: Noah Hall (N) d. Dan Kruse 1-0; 145: Warren Smith (N) d. Eli Boulton 11-2; 152: Nate Stephens (L) d. Quintin Smith 8-4; 160: Jacob Garcia (L) d. Lane Wells 6-2; 171: Kanon Dean (L) d. Sean Craig 8-6 (OT); 189: Max Dean (L) p. Cody Thornton 1:43; 215: Josh Colegrove (L) p. Wyatt Thornton 1:20; 285: Garrett Stehley (L) d. Ted Jackowiak 13-2