Inspired Eskymos edge Braves, secure victory

ESCANABA – It took nearly the entire wrestling season, but the Escanaba Eskymos finally earned a major victory Saturday by taking the Great Northern Conference title with 223 points.

Pre-meet favorite Gladstone was runner-up at 203 1/2, followed by Marquette 157 1/2, Kingsford 93 1/2 and Menominee 85 1/2.

“We wrestled good,” said Esky coach Jamie Segorski. “What we had here today was two depleted squads battling it out. This gave some of our younger kids a chance to wrestled and some of them stepped up. I think this gives us a little momentum going into the (Division 2) district. This is always an exciting time of the year. It’s nice to end the regular season on a positive note.”

Sophomore Kaleb Rahoi provided the Eskymos with a key victory in the fifth round, rallying past Menominee senior Chris Briar 5-4 for the 135-pound title.

Briar gained a 4-2 with a takedown early in the third period. An escape then pulled Rahoi within 4-3, followed by a reversal for the winning points late in the period.

“I thought for Kaleb to beat Briar was huge,” said Segorski. “That was a great win for him.”

Esky junior Travis Heller (160) ran his career win total to 121 with a technical fall (16-0) over Menominee’s Justin Briiinski.

Gladstone got the final round off to a promising start with freshman Jackson Simison (103) pinning Esky freshman Sergei LaMarche in 91 seconds for the league title. Classmate James Bruce then topped Esky freshman Trevor Iriving 6-1 in the lone bout at 112.

The Braves, however, were unable to catch Esky on this day.

“Considering we gave up a weight class and had some kids out with injuries, I felt we wrestled well,” said Gladstone coach Jesse DeBacker. “I think sometimes a loss like this is good for a team. Hopefully, this will get our kids to re-focus and work toward accomplishing their goals.”

Gladstone senior Josh Kadish (152) sustained a leg injury during the tournament and was unable to wrestle in the final round against Marquette’s Austin Johnson, who raised his career win total to 101.

The Braves were also within heavyweight Tom Bailey, who was nursing a hand injury, and Brandon Gagnon due to a rib injury.

Among those absent for Esky were Zach Priebe with a knee injury and Marlie Gillis and Ryan Timler due to illness.

Johnson, one of five Marquette champions, gained his 100th victory by pinning Kingsford’s Holden Visentainer in 82 seconds.

“I thought we wrestled very well,” said Marquette coach Charlie Gentz. “We brought down 10 wrestlers and half of them were champions. We have some injuries and haven’t been able to fill 112 and 119 all year. We just couldn’t compete with Escanaba which had a full lineup.”

The Redmen travel to Sault Ste. Marie for Wednesday’s D-2 district where they face the host Blue Devils in the opening round. The winner meets Esky in the title match.

Gladstone opens it D-3 district Wednesday against Menominee at Kingsford. The Flivvers host Negaunee in the opposite bracket, with the championship match to follow.