Vikings dominate individual districts, team regionals next

Published 8:59 am Tuesday, February 12, 2019

NILES — It was a solid weekend for area wrestlers as they switched from team competition to the Michigan High School Athletic Association individual district tournaments.

Overall, wrestlers from Brandywine, Buchanan, Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg and Niles brought home nine district championships.

The Vikings led the way with six individual champions and 12 regional qualifiers in Division 2.

Division 2

Winning individual championships for the Vikings were Jamison Zimmerman (31-4) at 103, Javond Ball (31-7) at 135, Kade Wagley (33-7) at 140, Cade Best (30-7) at 171, Dawson Bruckner (34-7) at 189 and Brian Soto (27-4) at 285.

Also advancing for the Vikings were runners-up Bryce Brust (15-3), Robert Buckland (31-10) and Kenny Krempetz (15-9).

Cole Simpson (31-0) and Tysen Custard (22-12) were third-place finishers, while Skylar Mans (17-12) finished fourth.

“The kids have some momentum,” said Niles coach Todd Hesson. “The team success feeds into the individual and hopefully that cycle continues. All the kids wrestled at or above their seeds on Saturday. The tough competition seems to be paying off along with the fact kids are starting to wrestle their best right now.”

Niles will now turn its focus to the Division 2 team regional at Edwardsburg on Wednesday.

The Eddies advanced six wrestlers to the Division 2 regional at Vicksburg.

Jackson Hoover (37-34), Jacob Reece (26-8), Michael Tatay (23-10) and Cade Reece (33-6) were all runners-up at Lakeshore High School on Saturday.

Dillion Hurst (32-8) was third and Drew Bidwell (27-11) was fourth.

“Wednesday we need each starter to do their job,” Hesson said. “We cannot give up pins and make sure we score bonus points. Hopefully, we get the coin toss and match-ups we need. Battle Creek Harper Creek, Edwardsburg and Mattawan all have solid programs. It will be a matter of following the plan and keep the momentum going.”

Edwardsburg coach Jesse Becraft knows that winning the Wolverine Conference championship helped propel the Eddies into the postseason on a positive note.

Edwardsburg won its first district team championship in five years, something that means a lot to the team.

“Winning the district is a step in the right direction for the program,” Becraft said. “We had a great team effort from our guys against a tough well coached team in the finals. We had some guys step up big and win some important matches (Kaden Parsons, Jeremy Walker, Caden Reece). We did a great job of limiting Coldwater’s bonus point opportunities and capitalizing when we had chances to get bonus points. As I said, it was a great team effort.”

To win the regional title, Becraft knows he team must be nearly perfect in its matches.

“Niles is an extremely tough team,” he said. “As you hear from every coach, we are going to have to wrestle our best dual of the year and limit their bonus points and get a few upsets along the way to have the chance to move on.”

Division 4

Brandywine’s Hunter Heath and Cassopolis’ Dylan Green were individual champions at Lawton on Saturday in the Division 4 individual districts.

Heath (44-2) was one of four Bobcats to advance to the Division 4 regional at Hudson on Saturday.

Joining Heath were Mathew Cox (38-11) and Steven Kendall (35-13), who were both third, and Ben KcKee (25-19), who finished fourth.

Green (34-3) defeated teammate Gage Collins (29-7) to win the district championship at 171 pounds.

Also qualifying for the Rangers were Galen Stahl (20-15) and William Westphal (28-6) who finished third and fourth respectively.