Four wrestlers win regional championships
NILES — Four area wrestlers captured championships at various sites as the individual state tournament moved into the regional round Saturday.
In Fremont, Brandywine freshman Hunter Heath, and Dowagiac senior Kody Walker avenged their runner-up finishes from the previous weekend to win regional championships in Division 3.
At Vicksburg, Niles’ Austin Franco and Davin Simpson (27-9) backed up their Division 2 district championship with regional titles.
For the Vikings’ Franco, who improved to 40-0 on the season and 159-5 for his career, this will be the fourth consecutive trip to the state finals.
The Vikings advanced seven wrestlers to the Division 2 state finals, which will be March 2-3 at Ford Field in Detroit, while Edwardsburg advances four wrestlers.
Also advancing to the state finals for Niles were Dawson Bruckner (32-11), who was runner-up at 189; Robert Glover (31-7), who was third at 145; Jamison Zimmerman (33-11), who was fourth at 103; and Brian Soto (29-11), who was fourth at 285.
Franco pinned his way to the finals. He stuck Andrew Minterfering of Jackson Northwest in 2:28 in the opening round before sticking Edwardsburg’s Jacob Reece in 40 seconds in the semifinals.
Franco won by forfeit against Coldwater’s Nick Buchanan.
Simpson captured the 171-pound championship by pinning Austin Tapley of Jackson Northwest in 3:48 and blanking Anthony Williams of Charlotte 4-0 in the semifinals.
Smith reached the title match by edging Chandler Murton of DeWitt 3-0 in the first round and decisioning Hunter Wilson of Fowlerville 9-2 in the semifinals.
Bruckner was pinned by Mattawan’s Ray Atkinson in the 189-pound finals in 3:52.