Six pack: Chieftains win another team district championship

Published 12:12 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

NILES — When the postseason rolls around for the Dowagiac wrestling team, you do not look at the Chieftains’ overall record or where they finished in the final conference standings.

You look at who they are about to put on the mat and how you will match their intensity.

When Dowagiac and Brandywine hit the mat in the Division 3 Team District semifinal Thursday night, both coaches knew that the final outcome would come down to the little things. In the end, the Chieftains avenged a Lakeland Conference loss to the Bobcats with a 36-34 victory and a spot in the championship match.

Dowagiac went on to defeat a short-handed Buchanan team 48-27 to win its sixth straight Division 3 District championship and its seventh in the past nine seasons.

“It was nice to finally put it together and wrestle a complete dual,” said Dowagiac Coach Colin Burandt. “We had put nine out of 10 things together in every dual heading into it, not finally everything worked.”

In the first meeting between the Chieftains and Bobcats, Brandywine earned a 41-40 victory on criteria after the two teams were deadlocked at 40-40 after the 14 bouts. The Bobcats’ win came due to one less forfeit than the Chieftains.

Forfeits would not affect the outcome of the district championship’s final score Thursday, although it did play a part in the match as Dowagiac won the coin toss and was able to shift its lineup to force some more favorable match-ups.

Brandywine’s Doug Hawley opened the match at 165-pounds with a time of Dowagiac’s Skyler Vincek, the Chieftains got back-to-back pins from Andrew Hartman and Hayden Groth to take a 12-6 lead.

After Carter Sobecki cut the Dowagiac lead to 12-9 with a decision at 215-pounds, Dowagiac forfeited to Brandywine standout Phillip McLaurin at 285, which gave the Bobcats a 15-12 advantage. Brandywine’s Josmer Perez extended the lead to 19-12 as he scored in the final seconds at 103 pounds to earn a major decision.

Matt Veach (113) and Kaiden Rieth (126) sandwiched a Dowagiac pin by Nicholas Green at 120 pounds with a pin and a decision, making it 28-18 in favor of the Bobcats.

From there, it was all Dowagiac.

The Chieftains won the next four matches, from 132 to 150, to pull ahead of Brandywine. Dowagiac had two pins and two decisions over that stretch to take a 36-28 lead. The Chieftains forfeited in the final match to Gavin Schoff as the outcome had already been decided.

The Chieftains started their winning run with a 10-6 decision by Israel Villegas, who missed the first meeting due to injury, over Drake Heath at 132 pounds. Dustin Sirk pinned Cory Whitman at 138 pounds and Cameron White won by decision over Maddison Ward at 145 pounds.

Zachary Schultz then delivered the winning pin of Sam Haulcomb at 150 pounds.

“Getting the coin toss was huge,” Burandt said. “The kids stayed off their backs. We played a good game of chess. Everybody made weight, we got a few of the injured guys back and everybody did their job.”

Buchanan took the early 18-3 lead over the Chieftains in the champion match, but the Bucks had to forfeit five of the next seven matches to decide the outcome. Dowagiac also got pins from AJ Munson (106) and Markus Ottinger (113) in the other two weight classes to season the win.

Dowagiac (13-17) will now host the Division 3 Regional Wednesday.

The Chieftains will face Hartford in one semifinal, while Constantine will take on Hopkins in the other semifinal. Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The championship match will begin 10 minutes after the completion of the last semifinal.