By Danna Castillo
The MHSAA Semi Finals didn't end the way the Eagles would have hoped. There were plenty of great matches but the Eagles didn't come out on top of this one ending their regular dual season with a still, very impressive 33-2 and their 12th consecutive appearance at the MHSAA Team State Finals.The Eagles were on fire in the Quarter Finals versus #8 Ranked Macomb Dakota.
Junior Josh Charneski started things off quickly with a 1:13 pin over Dakota's Hegarty, Freshman Sage Castillo followed suit at 112 with a :57 pin, then came Junior Nate Hughes (119) with a pin in 1:53 and Junior Justin Rollins pinning Karam in 1:18 at 130.
It has become a trademark of these Hartland wrestlers that once one person gets a pin or a win, they just keep coming and that is what happened in the Macomb Dakota match with seven wins in a row which gave them the comfortable lead they needed to move on to the Semi Finals vs #2 Davison.
In the semi's, the Eagles got off to a great start winning the first two matches. A battle of powers at 215 with Senior Chad Maks pulling off an over time upset win over Davison's #7 ranked Trevor Thomas and then at 285, Junior Josh Charneski, who has found his groove in the post season and is peaking at the right time, blanked Davison's Dakota Powers with a 6-0 victory.
The Cardinals then pulled out the big guns, winning the next 10 matches with a plethora of ranked wrestlers. That doesn't mean the Cards had an easy time of it, quite the contrary. At 112, Hartland's Castillo (Honorable Mention) gave Davison's #9 ranked Jacob Madrigal a run for his money, while Nate Hughes grappled with returning State Champion Lincoln Olson and gained control of the match for a short period with a well executed reversal that had Olson scrambling from his back. Then at 130, the thought on everyone's mind was would Davison put in #2 ranked Justin Oliver (135) and would Hartland put in #1 ranked Austin Eicher (130). The wait was over and the much anticipated re-match was on. Returning 2012 State Champion Justin Oliver vs 2012 runner-up Austin Eicher did not disappoint. It was a nail-bitter for all that watched. Neither wrestler scored in the first period, then Eicher scored a release point early in the second. Into the 3rd period, Eicher locked Oliver into a cradle and leaned back but Oliver rolled through and came up with the reversal with :53 seconds left in the match.
The battle continued and Eicher fought valiantly but it just wasn't enough and this time it was Davison's turn to upset the Eagles. This is Eicher's first loss on the season. A second upset came in the very next bout as Davison's #4 ranked (140) Dominic Russ upset Hartland's #2 ranked (130) Jacob Gorial with a second period pin. Although technically Russ is 2 weight classes heavier than Gorial, the Eagles were still looking for a win here. Gorial hasn't been pinned in over 4 years.Davison beating both of Hartland's workhorses sent a clear message to the Eagles and the Davison momentum carried on for 4 more rounds before Captains Mitchel Thomas at 171 and Ryan Hill at 189 each produced wins. Hartland's #3 ranked Thomas over #5 ranked Tyler Wildmo 7-5 and Hartland's Honorable Mention ranked Ryan Hill pinned Davison's Tanner Thomas.
It isn't over for all the Eagles just yet. Eight wrestlers will continue on to the MHSAA Individual State Finals being held this week at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
- (285) Junior Josh Charneski,
- (189) Senior Ryan Hill
- (171) Senior Mitchel Thomas
- (160) Junior Nathan Smith
- (130) Junior Austin Eicher and sophomore Jacob Gorial
- (119) Junior Nate Hughes
- (112) Freshman Sage Castillo
These wrestlers have already earned their place as the TOP 16 in the State. Now it's just a matter of wrestling to be one of the states Elite 8 in their perspective weight classes. The Individual State Finals begin on Thursday.And then there is the Hartland Wrestling Club.
The Michigan Youth Wrestling Association Team State Finals was held on Sunday, following the MHSAA Team event. The Hartland Wrestling Club, made up of Hartland Students 5-14 yrs old sent 3 teams to the Youth Dual Team State Finals. A 3rd Grade & Under team, an Elementary team of K-6th grade and a Middle School Team 7-8 graders.
For the 5th year in a row the Hartland Elementary program has won the MYWA Dual Team State Finals. The 3rd Grade & Under and the Middle School Teams both placed 3rd.All the current Freshman on the Hartland HS team were a part of the first Championship Elementary Dual team and they were also a part of the 2012 Championship Middle School team. With the continued success at the youth, middle school & high school levels, and the continued interest in and growth of Hartland Wrestling as a program in general, no doubt this "PROGRAM" which is their team slogan printed on all their spirit wear in a successful, unified effort to unite the youth and high school programs as separate, yet ONE, the tradition will in fact continue.
Although there was disappointment the high school team didn't move forward in the State Tournament, it wasn't in the wrestlers or coaches efforts. The Eagles defeated 3 teams this season that made it to the 2013 MHSAA Final Four (Rochester-D1, Lowell- D2 & New Lothrop -D4), and then the only losses they suffered were by the hands of the 2013 State Champs and Runner-Up in DCC and Davison. The team finishes with it's all time high 3.65 GPA, the highest in school history. This Hartland squad gave it all they had, they leave Battle Creek with no regrets.They will, as they do every year, re-focus, re-load and get back at it in the off season to once again prove to the State of Michigan, they return to Battle Creek for a reason... that's where they belong.