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Local wrestlers place at the Palace

Tribune Staff • Mar 6, 2017 at 6:30 AM

No matter the sport, level or competitor, bracket style playoffs in March tend to feature madness.

Local wrestlers from Grand Haven, Fruitport and Spring Lake learned that on the fly this weekend at the MHSAA individual wrestling state finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

With grapplers of all ages and sizes, the Lakeshore was represented well.

Bucs send one to title round

The Grand Haven wrestling team took the most delegates to the big dance beginning on Thursday; five Grand Haven grapplers put their hopes and dreams on the line, with one nearly hitting it big.

Drake Morley ascended quickly through his 215-pound Division 1 bracket, winning his first three matches to claim a spot in the title fight.

Adversity greeted Morley right away in the first round, with his opening match bleeding into overtime. The extra period would go to Morley, giving him the sudden death victory, 10-8, over Emanuel Willie of Livonia Franklin.

Consistency was the name of the game on Friday for Morley, who defeated both Brent Booth and JaWuan Peete by decision, 7-5.

The win over Peete sent Morley to fight undefeated (59-0) Ben Cushman for the 215-pound division 1 state championship.

Morley would fail to hand Cushman his first loss in his last match, dropping the title bout by decision, 11-6.

Daniel Guillen followed Morley, posting the Bucs’ only other medalist finish. The 130 pounder finished eighth, going 3-2 over the weekend.

After losing his opening match by major decision, 11-3, Guillen posted two straight wins. The first by major decision, 8-0, and the second by pinfall. The back-to-back stretch boosted him into the medal round.

After losing to the eventual fourth place finisher, Guillen fell again in his final match of the weekend, taking eighth overall at the hands of Garrett Tyrell by decision, 10-6.

Collin Monsma took on the heavyweight bracket, starting strong, but ultimately dropping out of the tournament before the medal round.

After recording a pinfall victory in the opening round (4:16), Monsma met Austin Emerson (50-2) in the quarterfinal round, falling by pin (5:11). The loss relegated Monsma to the consolation ladder, where he would drop his first match to a pinfall, leaving him just one win short of an All-State finish.

Bryan Batten opened his weekend with a narrow 7-5 loss in the opening round of his 152-pound bracket. He then took on Christian Karges in the consolation quarterfinals Friday morning winning the fight by decision, 8-6.

Batten’s state finals run ended with a loss in the next round to Luke Brazil by a narrow decision of 3-2.

Rounding out the Bucs effort at the individual state tournament was senior Caleb Braley, who bowed out of the 119-pound bracket with back-to-back losses in the opening rounds.

Braley would fall by major decision, 15-2, in his first outing and by decision, 4-1, in his second trip to the mat.

Trojans split weekend

The Fruitport wrestling squad sent two grapplers to the Palace for the individual state finals, sophomore Zach Sykes took on the Division 2 103-pound bracket while senior Levi Six took on the 152-pound field.

Sykes accomplished his season-long goal of making the state tournament and had to adjust his expectations once he did. After just hoping to make it into the tournament, Sykes said before that he wanted a piece of the medal round and a top-three finish.

His seventh place finish was good for All-State honors.

“His original goal was to make it to state, and once he made it he upped that,” Fruitport head coach Rick Sykes said. “Once he got there, he was mentally ready and took care of business.”

His opening round match came easily. Sykes secured a technical fall, 17-2, in 5:01. He then lost in the quarterfinal round, sending him to the consolation ladder. There, Sykes took a narrow 12-11 decision to break back into medal contention, before falling in the semifinals and in the seventh place match.

The other half of the Trojan duo did not fair as well, Levi Six had his All-State goal set long ago as he spent the 22 months before the start of this winter season working his way back from a broken arm, which sidelined him for his junior season.

Six qualified for the state meet and took home a medal in his sophomore campaign, and was looking to at least repeat that result on his return trip this year.

The Fruitport vet had no trouble revving his engine in the first round, taking out Juwan Vines by decision, 14-7.

Six was a victim of the draw in the second round, when he faced off with 57-1 Dustin Gross. The match stayed close, with Gross taking a narrow 3-0 decision. The loss sent Six to the meal blood round, where he fell on step short of hardware by decision, 9-3.

“He is not happy,” Coach Sykes said of his senior star. “I had to remind him what he has been through in coming back from his injury and over the course of his career. As much as he didn’t want to hear it he has accomplished a lot with his injuries and in his career.”

Hissom holds his own

Josef Hissom led the Lakers to the individual tournament solo, finishing 1-2 on the weekend.

In the opening round of the tournament, Hissom had his work cut out for him, as he took on Gabe Larner (55-4). Hissom would lose by major decision, 10-0, sending him to the consolation ladder to fight for a medal.

The consolation quarterfinals would get him back on track with a win by decision over Zack Bowling, 4-1.

Hissom’s season would come to a close in the blood round, falling by major decision once again, 13-0, missing out on a state medal by one win.

“He was happy with how he wrestled, but not necessarily with the result,” Spring Lake coach Dan Robinson. “He lost to the fifth and seventh place finishers overall. Those top six or seven guys were all really good guys, a lot of the matches were down to the wire.

“Even the matches we lost, we never really were our of the matches until late. He showed perseverance and pushed himself. He is a super smart wrestler. It was a good season but a little bit of a rough end.”

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