Mount Pleasant — Hartland showed Friday afternoon why it is the No. 1 seed, fighting back from an early deficit to earn an impressive 53-24 quarterfinal win over Temperance Bedford in the state team wrestling finals at McGuirk Arena.
The Division 1 matches started at 171 pounds and Hartland found itself in a 12-3 hole after three matches following Austin Emerson’s pin at 215 for Bedford.
Brandon Krol demonstrated his senior leadership, pulling out a 4-2 double-overtime decision at 285 to start Hartland’s comeback.
Then, Hartland (32-1) came with its specialty, the lower weights. Consecutive pins by freshmen Corey Cavanaugh (103) and Kyle Kantola (112) opened up an 18-12 Hartland lead, followed by yet another pin from sophomore Carter Hankins (119). Hankins earned his pin in the third period after building a 5-0 lead.
“I just felt that the team needed basically a turning point in the dual so I had to go out there and do what my team needed me to do,” said Cavanaugh, who improved to 42-10. “It’s contagious, one person goes out and does their job and the rest follows. It just takes one guy. We work hard in the room and it pays off on the mat.”
Garnet Potter (130), Reece Hughes (135), Kyle Cavanaugh (140) and Sage Castillo (145) also had pins for Hartland, which will be trying to win its first state title Saturday.
Semifinals get underway at 10 a.m. for Division 1 and 4 and at noon for Division 2 and 3 with championship matches at 3:30 for all divisions.
“We got on a pretty good roll, started getting bonus in a lot of matches, put 53 on the board, so that was fun,” said Hartland coach Todd Cheney, whose team lost in the state title match last year to Brighton, 31-25.
“We sat out a couple of kids, too, and now we’ll have the night to get the fluids back in them. We cut a couple of kids down (in weight classes) because that’s where we thought we had the best opportunity to win a state championship and that’s the only thing we want. We’ve been second and we don’t like that, it’s no fun.”
Cheney moved Hughes (46-4) down from 140 to 135 and Castillo (53-0) down from 152 to 145 and the moves paid off.
Hartland will face No. 4 seed Oxford (24-8) in one semifinal while No. 2 seed Davison (23-4) takes on No. 3 seed Detroit Catholic Central in the other.
Oxford defeated Hudsonville, 40-28, while Davison took care of Grand Ledge, 37-18.
Catholic Central (16-5) won its first six matches to open up a 24-0 lead over No. 6 seed Macomb Dakota (27-12) and was never threatened.
“I thought our guys wrestled real well,” said Catholic Central coach Mitch Hancock, who came back home in a way since he wrestled at Central Michigan.
“We had a couple of individual matches we wanted and got. I thought our guys wrestled well at 103, 112 and we got big wins at 130 and 135. I was impressed, felt our guys were aggressive and their energy level was good.”
Rhett Newton earned a 9-7 decision over Nick Alayan at 103 and Benyamin Kamali followed with a 10-2 major decision over Justin Tiburcio at 112. Freshman Cameron Amine had a 5-4 decision over sophomore Tyler Sanders (53-6) at 130 and Aaron Rehfeldt won 5-0 over Tommy Gawlowski at 135.
Now, Catholic Central will try to avenge a six-point loss to Davison earlier in the season. The teams wrestled in the state title match in 2013 and 2014 with C.C. coming out on top each time.
Two-time defending champion Lowell fell behind early against No. 8 seed Sturgis, 18-10, through the first five matches, but took the final eight matches — including pins from Hunter Browning (103), Sam Russell (119), Lucas Hall (125) and Zeth Dean (140) — to cruise to a 52-18 win.
No. 3 seed Gaylord got a technical fall from Nathan Ellis (135) and pin from Cody Orcutt (140) in the final two matches to edge Warren Woods-Tower, 31-26. Jajuan Lovejoy (160) and Nathan Pipes (215) had pins for Woods-Tower.
In other quarterfinal matchups, No. 2 seed St. Johns beat Dearborn Heights Annapolis, 49-23, while No. 4 seed Goodrich bested Allegan, 33-19.
Defending champion Richmond carried a 29-9 lead into the final half dozen matches, but couldn’t close the deal, dropping all of them to fall to No. 5 seed Whitehall, 37-29.
No match was bigger than at 145 pounds, where sophomore Josh Thommen scored a pin to give Whitehall a 31-29 lead. Jojo Dowdell and Joe Haynes earned decisions to close out the match.
“It wasn’t so much about me, but my team,” said Thommen, an individual state qualifier who improved to 34-12. “It was really emotional for me because I didn’t wrestle last year because I had problems with my knees, so to come back to this and doing this for my team is just awesome.
“I just knew I had to go out and wrestle and I just allowed my talent to come out. Really, I got him (Eric Barr) on his own move. It just backfired on him and I just caught him and put him on his back.”
Hunter Bower (103), Dominick Haynes (130), Reiley Brown (135) and Thommen had pins for Whitehall (26-1). Richmond (24-11) received pins from Colton McKiernan (171), August Aiken (285) and Aaron Kilburn (125).
“You can’t give up the pins,” Richmond coach Brandon Day said. “We lost the coin flip and didn’t get the matchups we wanted.”
No. 1 seed Dundee, looking for its first state title since back-to-back crowns in ’13 and ’14, pushed its record to 19-0 with a 63-13 win over Delton Kellogg. No. 2 seed Remus Chippewa Hills (40-1) defeated Gladstone, 48-24, while No. 3 seed Lake Fenton (39-3) defeated Birch Run, 46-27.
Leroy Pine River pulled off a major upset, becoming the first No. 7 to knock off a 2 seed in quarters since the format began in 1988. Pine River edged Decatur, 35-34.
Junior Joe Rigling was the hero for Pine River (26-4), earning a 4-2 decision over Elijah Luth in the final match at 152 pounds for the difference.
“It was crazy. Really I didn’t know what to expect when I went out there,” Rigling (43-12) said. “It’s one of the best feelings in the world to win it. I was scared out of my mind when I went out there. I didn’t give up. I wrestled tough all the way through.”
It was the first time Pine River advanced to the semifinals.
No. 1 seed New Lothrop looks to be well on its way to a third straight state title, defeating Munising, 69-10. No. 3 seed Hudson slipped past Manchester, 33-30, with Brandon Hock’s 2-0 decision over Johnathan Betz at 152 pounds, and No. 5 seed Springport got past No. 5 seed Hesperia, 32-30, with Taylor Whitmore’s 10-5 decision over Logan Eaves at 152.
TEAM WRESTLING STATE FINALS
McGuirk Arena, Mount Pleasant
Division 1 at 10 a.m.
No. 1 seed Hartland (32-1) vs. No. 4 Oxford (24-8)
No. 2 Davison (23-4) vs. No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central (16-5)
Division 4 at 10 a.m.
No. 1 seed New Lothrop (22-5) vs. No. 5 Springport (29-6)
No. 3 Hudson (17-14) vs. No. 7 Leroy Pine River (26-4)
Division 2 at noon
No. 1 seed Lowell (20-3) vs. No. 4 Goodrich (34-4)
No. 2 St. Johns (27-4) vs. No. 3 Gaylord (42-1)
Division 3 at noon
No. 1 seed Dundee (19-0) vs. No. 5 seed Whitehall (26-1)
No. 2 Remus Chippewa Hills (40-1) vs. No. 3 Lake Fenton (39-3)
All finals at 3:30 p.m.