Dowagiac wins back-to-back regional championships

Published 9:42 am Friday, February 15, 2019

COLOMA — For the Dowagiac wrestling team, it was all about validation.

No one saw the Chieftains coming last year when they won the Division 3 team regional championship over Lake Odessa Lakewood.

No one seems to have noticed that the Dowagiac wrestling program is up and coming. No one certainly at the state level where the Chieftains have not been able to crack the state rankings.

That has been fuel for the fire the entire 2018-19 season.

That fuel exploded at Coloma High School where Dowagiac routed Comstock 53-18 and then defeated Wolverine Conference foe Otsego 39-29 to win its second straight Division 3 regional championship.

The Chieftains must now wait and see if they get any respect this weekend when the seedings for the quarterfinals are released Sunday afternoon.

“Before last year we only won a regional seven (other times),” said Dowagiac coach Colin Burandt. “For these kids, it’s two in a row. They own two regional championships out of the school’s nine. That’s awesome.”

Preparing to defend their regional championship began as soon as Burandt and his staff new what other teams would be competing in the Coloma regional.

“We (started) processing last week,” he said. “We knew what they had and where we could move. We had a couple guys drop a weight class and that worked out well for us, throwing (Otsego) through a loop. The kids did their job.”

Every wrestler who took the mat for the Chieftains Wednesday night knew what they had to do in order to help the team win the title. It was not a perfect plan according to Burandt, but it worked well enough.

“We wrestle tough competition week in and week out,” Burandt said. “We try to wrestle a ranked team each week. Ultimately it pays off in the postseason and that’s where we want to win.”

Dowagiac (24-9) had little trouble beating Comstock for a second time this season.

The Chieftains and the Bulldogs never wrestled a head-to-head match during the Wolverine Conference season due to a weather cancellation of their dual.

But Burandt and his staff knew enough about the Bulldogs to work up a plan, that included shifting senior standout Dylan Elmore up a weight class to 125 with the match hanging in the balance.

It looked like the move was not going to work as Elmore struggled before rallying for a 4-2 decision that put the Chieftain up 33-25 with three bouts remaining.

Since the Bulldogs were forfeiting at 135 pounds, the only drama left in the match was the final score.

The Division 3 quarterfinals will be held at 4:30 p.m. at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo. The winners advance to Saturday’s semifinals, which will be held at noon. The championship match is set for 3:45 p.m.