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Grand Haven wrestling program celebrates fifth straight district crown

Josh VanDyke • Feb 8, 2018 at 12:38 AM

NORTON SHORES — The pressure of continuing a winning streak can sometimes cause teams to falter in the important moments.

That wasn't the case for the Grand Haven wrestling program on Wednesday as they captured their fifth consecutive Division 1 district championship at Mona Shores High School.

The Buccaneers defeated West Ottawa 61-16 in the opening round of competition and surged past the host Sailors 58-18 in the final to capture the hardware.

"We performed well tonight. We won all the matches we were supposed to win and also won quite a few matches that we weren't expected to win," said Grand Haven head coach Vince Gervais. "We were underdogs in a lot of matches, and we were down early on in some matches, too, but the guys just collectively showed a lot of pride and determination out there.

"Last year, we won the district title, but I was disappointed with our effort through the process. This year, I couldn't be prouder with how the guys performed. We went out there and outright won it and wrestled to our potential."

Against West Ottawa, Chris Anderson, Daniel Guillen and Trevor Rademaker each recorded pinfall wins to help the Buccaneers to an early 18-0 lead.

Grand Haven would drop a decision at 152 pounds, before recording a pinfall win by Cam Mesler at 160 and a decision by Bronson Jewell at 171 to balloon their lead up to 28-4.

West Ottawa would add back-to-back pinfall wins at 189 and 215 to get back into the thick of the match and only trail 28-16.

Then, the meat of the Grand Haven lineup took over, with Colin Monsma recording a pinfall win at 285; Riley Rhone adding a pinfall win at 103 and Kirk Marsman also recording a pinfall win at 112.

Zach Boerson and Cody Miller would continue the trend with pinfall wins at 119 and 125, respectively to all but assure the Buccaneers a match victory.

Elijah Copado would add a decision at 130 pounds to cap off the hot streak by the Buccaneers to close out the match at 61-16.

Against Mona Shores, Anderson, Kyler Spangler (145) and Rademaker all scored wins to help Grand Haven to an early 15-0 lead.

Mona Shores would answer with a pinfall win at 160 to get on the board before first-year wrestler Bronson Jewell scored an upset win over Tristan Robbins of Mona Shores.

"Bronson Jewell just beat a kid that was one match away from the state meet, and that stuff just doesn't happen in the postseason in most cases," Gervais added. "Bronson is an incredibly hard worker and a great athlete. He stayed composed and really outworked his opponent and had more stamina at the end of the match and that was really the difference."

Kaleb Butcher added a decision win at 189 to keep the Buccaneer momentum going before Josh Hill of Mona Shores scored a pinfall win at 215 to keep the Sailors within striking distance at 21-12.

That's when the murderer's row of Buccaneer grapplers once again took over.

Monsma scored a pinfall win at 285 to right the ship, followed by forfeit by Mona Shores that awarded a win to Brailey Eisen of Grand Haven.

Riley Rhone, normally a 103-pounder, moved up a weight class to help his team fill out the lineup. He did so by scoring an overtime decision after trailing by as many as four points midway through the match.

"Riley bumped up to 112 pounds tonight, even though he's been wrestling at 103 all season. He hung in there and wrestled hard and got a huge overtime pin for us," added Gervais. "That really changed the momentum of the meet for us. Chris Anderson got two huge pins for us, too. Everyone really did what they needed to do to help the team win."

Boersen would score a pinfall win at 119 pounds to assure a Buccaneers win, followed by forfeit wins to Miller at 125 and Spangler at 130.

Grand Haven would void their final match at 135 with the match already decided to seal the final score at 58-18.

"It means a lot to win the district title at this school," Gervais added. "I took the program over because it means a lot to me, and I wanted to continue to have us in a position to win championships. Those things don't come easily. You have to work hard and execute when the time comes. These guys have put in a lot of hours on the mat to earn this.

"I remind these guys all the time that it's not easy to win these. A lot of programs are competing for a district title and never get there or only get there once a while. For us to win a district title five times in a row is a special accomplishment and we shouldn’t take that for granted."

By winning their district, the Buccaneers will get a chance to host the Division 1 team regionals next Wednesday at Grand Haven High School.

"I'm excited about that opportunity," added Gervais. "I can't ever remember hosting regionals at our place, so this is going to be a special event for us. We'll play the winner of Grandville and Hudsonville, and we will be looking to defend our home turf."

For first-year wrestler Bronson Jewell, the decision to come out for the team appears to be a wise one.

"It feels great to win districts," he said after the match. "The guys really wanted me to join the team last year, and I didn't do it. This year, I decided to give it a shot and I'm happy I did. I think I made the right decision this time around."

Jewell views wrestling as a sport that will make him better at football, but the challenge of his secondary sport is something he has grown to love.

"They said it would make me better at football, which is my primary sport, so I decided to come out," he added. "They also mentioned that you can throw people around, and I wanted to test myself.

"It pushes you both mentally and physically to be the best athlete you can be. I wanted to go out there and perform well for my team, and my gameplan was to wear down my opponent and get the win."

The Buccaneers used the wide variety of athletes to wear down their district competition Wednesday. Now, they gear up for a chance to take on a familiar O-K Red Conference opponent in the regional semifinals.

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