Dowagiac wins D3 regional

Published 6:47 am Thursday, February 26, 2004

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
VERMONTVILLE -- The plan was perfect. The execution was even better.
First-year Dowagiac varsity wrestling coach John Green and his staff came up with a plan to win the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 regional championship Thursday night.
The plan worked too as the Chieftains claimed their first regional championship in five years with a 36-28 victory over No. 6 ranked Hamilton in the finals.
All the Chieftains had to do was get past host Maple Valley High School in the first round, while Hamilton, a team that had defeated the Chieftains by 34 points earlier in the year, slugged it out with Constantine in the other semifinal.
Dowagiac dispatched Maple Valley, 46-31, in a match where the Chieftains forfeited two of the final three weight classes.
Meanwhile on the other mat, Hamilton and Constantine lived up to their billing, battling nearly two and a half hours before the Hawkeyes pulled out a 33-18 victory which was much closer than the final score indicated.
Now for the key to winning it all.
Dowagiac had to stay off its backs, which it was unable to do against Hamilton at the Coloma Invitational, pick up an upset or two and have its veterans go out and take care of business.
Green's plan couldn't have worked out any better.
Not only did the Chieftains stay off their backs for the most part, the Chieftains did get a few key victories and all of its veterans performed the way they were expected to.
Kyle Bennett got the Chieftains off to a great start as he pinned Nate Maat in 5:03.
Jim Kehrer followed with a win over Mitch Bosch, while Matt Behnke went the distance with Michael Deldhoff.
Michael Johnson pinned Todd Stoel in 34 seconds before Nathan Cottrell went the distance with Nate Darling, who pinned him at the Coloma tournament.
Darr Phillips scored a technical fall in the closing seconds of his 112-pound match to really set the stage for the Chieftains.
Mark Howard got a pin at 119 against Ryan Dutoi, however, Krukowski stuck Adam Vandercamp in 4:45 to make the dream become closer to a reality.
Austin Lawrence nearly upset Shawn Pitch at 130 and had it not been for a quick-count on a nearfall, would have won the bout.
Then came the biggest moment of the night as Kasper decisioned Zach Bailey to put the Chieftains in a position to win.
Kasper was referring to a last-second loss at Niles which allowed the Vikings to beat the Chieftains.
Following a pin at 140-pounds by Casey Fulks and a pin at 145 by Nick Pitch, the Chieftains used their strategy of bumping up Jeromy Nothrop to go against Ken Livingston at 152.
Nothrop decisioned Livingston, 5-1, to give Dowagiac a 32-28 lead heading into the final match of the night.
Rob Duszynski needed only to stay off his back or lose by less than eight points.
Duszynski had different plans.
Not only did he stay of f his back and not get beat, he scored a major decision over Tom VanMastricht, 13-4, to seal the victory and give Dowagiac its first trip to Battle Creek's Kellogg Arena since 1999.
The Chieftains will now compete in the Division 3 quarterfinals at the Kellogg Arena on Friday, 5beginning at 5:30 p.m.
The Chieftains will wrestle the winners of region No. 119.