Mount Pleasant — Top-seeded Hartland went into the Division 1 wrestling title bout against Davison Saturday afternoon at the McGuirk Arena looking for its first state championship in the sport.
Davison once was a dynasty, clinching its fifth straight title a decade ago under the direction of Roy Hall who once again led the Cardinals on the mat to battle Hartland.
Hartland had come close to winning state titles numerous times, falling to Brighton 31-25 in the championship match last year and finishing runner-up four straight times from 2004-07, coming up short against Davison in three of them.
On Saturday, Hartland took care of unfinished business to close the deal, leaving with the ultimate trophy raised to the direction of its cheering fans.
The Eagles (34-1) took advantage of four pins and defeated Davison 36-23 before a record crowd of more than 4,900. Three hundred fans had to be turned away at the doors due to the sellout.
The win had to feel sweet to Hartland coach Todd Cheney, who guided his Eagles to 14 straight trips to the state finals prior to this year, only to exit after quarterfinal, semifinal or title match losses.
“It’s an amazing moment for our kids, our families, our parents,” said Cheney, who closed out his 24th year as Eagles head coach. “How can you not just look around and look at the faces and understand that everything they worked for they just got?”
Hartland got the job done by piling up the bonus points, getting consecutive pins by Sage Castillo (145), Logan Vish (152) and Lucas LaForge (160) to open a 21-3 cushion after five matches. Freshman Kyle Kantola (103) also had a pin for the Eagles.
“Those guys (Castillo, Vish) started us off and LaForge really finished it because that match was a decision (he had a 5-2 lead) and he went up right upstairs, double-arm head-locked the kid and got the fall and that kind of changed things. And, Andrew Spisz (189), he’s had such an up-and-down year, but that (7-2 decision for a 24-9 lead) was just such a huge moment for that kid.”
The title match opened at 135 pounds with Brian Case of Davison earning a decision before Reece Hughes evened things with a decision at 140. Then Castillo, Vish and LaFogre went to work.
“I went out there and knew I had to get my job done and get a pin and I had my boys out there rooting for me,” said Castillo, a senior who improved to 55-0. “(Vish’s pin) really got the momentum of the team going and it obviously paid off for us. This means everything for us. Winning the state title is amazing, the greatest feeling in the world.”
Hartland senior Aaron Laird knew his job at 215: Don’t get pinned. He lost a 5-3 decision to Tanner Thomas, but clapped to the Eagles’ fans knowing the importance of not giving up bonus points.
Hartland advanced to the title match with a 42-19 semifinal win over Oxford earlier in the day, while Davison needed to win its final three matches of its semifinal to defeat Detroit Catholic Central, 29-25.
Top-seeded Lowell defeated longtime rival St. Johns 37-22 to win its third straight state title.
St Johns had won four straight championships (2010-13) before Lowell ended its run in ’14.
“Everybody just expects us to do this and what no one knows is just how hard it is to win a state title,” Lowell coach R.J. Boudro said. “What gets forgotten is how hard these kids work. Every senior did what they were expected to do. It was an awesome win.”
The match was even at 22 before Sam Russell (119) and Lucas Hall (125) came through with consecutive pins for Lowell and teammate Avry Mutschler followed with a decision at 130.
Eli Boulton also had a pin for Lowell at 189.
A new champion was assured Friday with Richmond’s exit at the hands of Whitehall.
Dundee put on a dominating effort in defeating Remus Chippewa Hills 40-16 to earn its third state title in the last four years, having fallen to Richmond in last year’s title bout, 27-25.
Dundee won five of the first six matches with Kyle Reinhart (152) and Sean Sterling (160) coming through with consecutive pins to open a 19-3 cushion.
Brandon Whitman (215) and Zachary Bellaire (125) also had pins for Dundee which won the title with an unbeaten record (21-0).
Top-seeded New Lothrop was in search of its third straight title and Hudson was trying to spoil the party after finishing runner-up the previous two years.
New Lothrop (24-5) left as the three-time champion with Austin Wolford closing out the 35-27 win with a 7-0 decision at 130 pounds.
Steven Garza II (152) and Brandon Henige (171) had pins to give New Lothrop a 19-6 lead and the Hornets piled up six more points at 189 with a forfeit win and then an 11-4 decision by Caleb Symons over Tylor Grames at 215 for a commanding 28-9 advantage.