Bucks, Chieftains make big impression at districts with multiple regional qualifiers

Published 11:09 am Sunday, February 11, 2024

CONSTANTINE — Lakeland Conference schools Dowagiac and Buchanan sent a clear message in Saturday’s Division 3 Individual Districts in Constantine that they produce some top-notch talent on the wrestling mat.

Buchanan qualified seven and Dowagiac six grapplers for next weekend’s individual regional tournament, which will be hosted by Constantine as well.

The top four finishers in each of the respective 14 weight classes all qualified.

Representing Buchanan will be sophomore Lucas Zeiger in the 190-pound division, along with seniors Drew Andersen and Dean Roberts, both at 215, sophomore Holton Carrington (106), freshman Cooper Mabry (120), junior Leland Payne (150) and senior Brayden Sebasty (165).

“We are super happy with our kids’ performance today. I think that is the most that we’ve qualified for regionals in the last four or five years,” said Buchanan Coach Andy Riggs. “This group works exceptionally hard for this particular weekend. We wrestled about where we came in seeded. I’m super proud of all of them.”

Dowagiac qualified junior Hayden Groth (190), junior Cal Chapman (285), junior Markus Ottinger (106), senior AJ Munson (113), sophomore Cameron White (138) and senior Israel Villegas (144).

“We battled very well today and got some good matchups. Cam beat the No. 1 seed in the semifinals and Hayden was able to avenge two earlier-season losses to Zeiger to reach the finals today,” said Dowagiac’s Coach Colin Burandt. “I’m just really proud of our kids. They have worked hard all year and it’s just fun to see them survive and advance. They deserve it.”

White, now 42-10, upset No. 1 seeded Koltin Gross from Constantine 7-5 in his semifinals match.

Grogh finished second after losing in the finals to Constantine’s Gregg Reed by pin fall in 1:52.

Zeiger took third after he lost a 7-5 decision against Comstock’s Jay Claxton.

Andersen faced Roberts in the consolation finals and earned third by pinning his own teammate in 3:27.

Chapman lost 5-1 in the finals to Constantine’s No. 1 seeded Bennett Vandenberg.

Carrington was pinned in the finals by Ryker Rowland from South Haven in 1:49.

Ottinger earned third with a 4-1 win in the consolation finals over South Haven’s Malachi Emerson.

Munson defeated Brady Rice from Hartford 9-3 in the consolation finals.

Mabry earned third by edging Constantine’s Jace Vavul 8-7.

White lost in the consolation finals on a 17-3 major decision to Hopkins’ Caden Brown.

Villegas claimed the title with a 19-9 major decision over Blake Hassevoort from South Haven.

Payne finished second after dropping an 8-6 decision to Mikey Yelding from South Haven in the title bout.

Sebasty ended up pinning Linken Birkhead from Hartford in 1:43 in the consolation finals for third.