Five Buccaneer grapplers advanced through the Division 1 regional at Pinckney High School on Saturday.
Grand Haven was led by 215-pound champion Drake Morley, while junior Daniel Guillen finished third in his 130-pound division.
Also qualifying for the Bucs were: Bryan Batten, who finished third at 152; Caleb Braley, who added a fourth-place finish at 119 and Collin Monsma picked up a fourth-place finish at 285.
“Overall, I was very happy with the way our guys represented our program on Saturday,” said Grand Haven head coach Vince Gervais. “We were able to get five out of six guys to the state tournament. Cody (Miller) was an overtime loss away from qualifying as well, but I know he will learn from the experience.
“Sending five guys back to the state finals is big for our program, especially considering the strength of our region. We sent the second most kids behind Grandville out of the O-K Red Conference, which is a good indication of how tough the region and our conference was this season.”
SIX AND SYKES ADVANCE
Fruitport’s Zach Sykes was dialed in all day at the Division 2 individual regionals at Byron Center High School.
The talented grappler paced the Trojans on the day, taking home an individual championship at his 103-pound division, while senior teammate Levi Six continued his road to redemption after sitting out last season with an arm injury, finishing runner-up at 152 to qualify for the Trojans.
"Zach wrestled great all day,” said Fruitport head coach Rick Sykes. “He seemed to be clicking out there, and he really stepped it up and was ready to go. Mentally, he seemed like he was in a zone. I didn’t even want to bother him between matches, because he was so focused and determined that I just wanted him to stay in that mindset.
"Levi got pinned by Bryce Dempsey (Lowell) last week, but he wrestled him well this time around. He lost in a 6-1 decision in the finals, but he gave Dempsey a run for his money.”
Of the 56 wrestlers heading to the Division 2 individual state finals, 40 came out of Fruitport’s district.
"That just goes to show you how loaded our district was,” Sykes continued. I told the entire team heading into districts that if they can make the top four at districts, they have a really good shot of qualifying through regionals and onto the state finals. That seemed to be the case this year.
“It would have been a bonus for us to get Dallas Rogers (285 pounds) to the state finals, but he came up just short. He’s had a fantastic season for a newcomer to the sport, and he’s only going to get better the more he wrestles.”
The opportunity to represent their program at the state level is not something Sykes will take for granted this year, as the team wasn’t able to push anyone across last season.
“Zach lost in the blood rounds of the regional last year, so he’s pretty much been wrestling non-stop since last summer,” Sykes said of his son. “He was determined to not go through that experience again.
"Levi had some diversity, too. He was determined to get to the state finals after being injured last season. He didn't have his first match until 2 p.m. on Saturday, so he didn’t wrestle for almost nine hours after weighing in early in the morning. That’s tough to just sit around like that all day, especially mentally.
"Getting guys to the state finals isn’t just great for our program, it’s great for our community and our school and everyone that’s been involved in the history of Fruitport wrestling. I want to continue that winning tradition at Fruitport. We didn't get anybody in there last year, so I’m glad we were able to change that this year.”
HISSOM ALSO QUALIFIES
Spring Lake senior Josef Hissom will also be advancing to the March 2 individual state finals.
Hissom finished 2-2 at his 171-pound division to finish fourth overall and qualify individually.
Hissom recorded a 7-5 decision over Grand Rapids Christian’s Isaac Dykema (34-6 on the season) in the opening round, but dropped a 18-6 major decision to eventually 171-pound champion Ryan Ringler of Cedar Springs.
Despite the loss, the Laker senior bounced back for a pinfall victory (2:11) over Dillon Reeder of Allendale in the consolation semifinals. Reeths-Puffer’s Hunter McCall scored a pinfall win (2:32) over Hissom in the consolation final to place third.
Hissom now holds a 42-10 record on the season.