Esky racks up ninth straight district title

SAULT STE. MARIE – With a flurry of pins the Escanaba Eskymos took control early in a Division 2 team wrestling district Wednesday night.

The Eskymos held off a rally in the upper weight classes by Sault Ste. Marie, and prevailed 53-30 over the Blue Devils for the district championship.

It was the ninth straight team district championship for the Eskymos, who advance to team regionals at Mount Pleasant Feb. 13.

“We knew coming in that the Sault matched up with us real well this year,” Escanaba coach Jamie Segorski said. “Credit to our kids for pulling this one out and making things go in our favor.

“We came in and beat the scale first,” Segorski said. “We had no problems at weigh in. Then we wrestled well on the mat.”

Marquette was also scheduled to be part of the three-team district, but the Redmen could not field a complete team and did not make the trip. The host Sault Blue Devils took on Escanaba for the district title.

Winning the first four matches by pins and the fifth by major decision, the Eskymos stormed to a big lead. Zach Priebe (125 pounds), Tyler Adams (132), Kaleb Rahoi (135) and Kevin Priebe (140) registered consecutive pins to start the dual match.

The Eskymos finished with six pins overall, and won two matches by forfeit. Kevin Priebe prevailed in a close contest, pinning Sault High’s Michael Davis in 4:21 of their 140-pound match, which gave Esky a 29-0 lead.

“Kevin Preibe’s third period pin was a key one to get us rolling,” Segorski said. “He’s a real scrapper, and he fought all the way through it. It was nice to jump out to an early lead. That gave us a chance to rest Alec Slaga. He’s coming off a little injury, so we forfeited at 152 to let him get healthy.”

The Blue Devils got on the scoreboard via a forfeit, as Steven Kymes was uncontested at 152 pounds. Kymes is the reigning U.P. champion at 145.

The Blue Devils were dealt a difficult hand before the match began. Michael James was unable to wrestle due to an ankle ligament injury suffered in basketball pre-game Monday night at Pickford. Making matters worse for the Blue Devils, their 119-pounder did not make weight, leaving coach Del Craven shuffling his lineup from the get-go.

“We knew we were in a tough position going in,” Craven said. “We had to bump everyone up a weight class from 125 through 171. We gave it our best, but the odds were stacked against us.”

The Sault registered four straight pins between 171 and heavyweight to get within 35-30 on the scoreboard.

But Esky stopped the Blue Devils’ momentum in the next match as Sergei LaMarche pinned Thomas Merchberger at 103 pounds, avenging a loss earlier this season from the Northern Michigan Championships in Gaylord.

“We knew we were going to be able to score from our feet in that one,” Segorski said. “I think Sergei had 10 or 12 takedowns in that match. He kept his motor going and scored his points.”

Esky won the final two matches (112 and 119) by forfeit.

Escanaba and Sault Ste. Marie wrestlers are among 14 schools participating in Division 2 individual districts Saturday at Escanaba. The top four in each weight class advance to individual regionals.