Heller, Rahoi power Esky in Division 2

ESCANABA – Five Upper Peninsula wrestlers reached the title round. Four were crowned champions in Saturday’s Division 2 individual district at Escanaba High School.

A pair of Esky wrestlers were among the champions as sophomore Kaleb Rahoi copped the 135-pound division and junior Travis Heller finished on top at 152.

Also winning were Marquette senior Curt Calovecchi (171) and Sault Ste. Marie junior Steven Kymes (140).

Heller, the fourth-ranked D-2 wrestler in the state according to Michigan wrestler, used a third-period reversal to gain a 6-4 triumph over third-ranked Trent Hunt of Gaylord.

“I beat him in the Marquette Challenge (on Dec. 15), then he beat me in the finals at Gaylord (in the Northern Michigan Championships) two weeks ago,” said Heller. “I made some mental mistakes when I wrestled against him at Gaylord, but came in here with a winning attitude. I really wanted this match.”

Heller took a 4-1 lead with a takedown 30 seconds into the second period. Hunt then trimmed his deficit to 4-2 with an escape with 46.1 seconds left in the period and tied the score with a reversal with 20 seconds remaining.

A 3-0 semifinal victory over Big Rapids senior Brandon Buck enabled Heller to reach the finals.

“That was a good match,” said Heller. “I rode him pretty well. I think being in a hard six-minute helps you for the rest of the day. It gets the adrenaline going.”

An early takedown set the tone for Rahoi, who blanked West Branch Ogemaw Heights junior Dylan Nichols 9-0 in the 135-pound title bout.

“I had to do what I could on my feet and get as many points as I could,” said Rahoi. “Last year, I took fourth in this district. It will definitely be a big difference going into the regional as a district champion. I’ll have a better idea of what to expect. Although, there’s going to be a lot of tough wrestlers down there (at Bay City Western on Saturday). I’m going to have to wrestle my tail off and hope to get a win.”

The Eskymos also qualified freshman Sergei LaMarche who placed third at 103, and sophomore heavyweight Bill Soper, who took fourth.

“To get four out of this district is really good,” said Esky coach Jamie Segorski. “We had a kid like Zach Priebe who came in here 26-5 and didn’t make it out, which says a lot about how tough this district is. Also having four U.P. wrestlers win here today says a lot about what we do. All of the qualifiers at 125 and 152 were ranked among the top 10 in the state and 160 was absolutely loaded. Our fans were exposed to the kind of wrestling I don’t think they’ve seen here before. Our district is as good as any in the state.”

Esky resumes in the team regional at Mount Pleasant, where it will face Greenville Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Greenville sent six to the finals in Saturday’s individual district, with four crowned champions.

In the 171 final, Calovecchi squeezed past Big Rapids senior Kyle Carter 9-7 on a takedown at the final buzzer.

“I was tired and he was real fast,” said Calovecchi. “I knew I had to make something happen. I was pretty sure I had it (the final takedown), and the refs did a pretty good job talking it over. I think my coaches (Charlie and Tony Gentz) did a real good job preparing me. This is my last chance, so I know I have to give it my all. The last two years I was runner-up, so I think this will help a little. But I’ll still have to wrestle good in order to make it to the state tournament.”

A pair of takedowns and a reversal enabled Kymes (140) to earn a 6-3 triumph over Greenville senior Kyle Reamer.

Marquette senior heavyweight Rainger Rossway also reached the finals where he dropped a 4-2 decision to Ogemaw Heights junior Tom Dematio.

Also among the U.P. qualifiers was Marquette senior Joe Iwanicki (215), who took third.