Braves take regional title

GRAYLING – The Gladstone Braves wrestling team finally vanquished a perennial regional roadblock, then they recovered from a slow start in the final against Grayling, to secure their first regional title since 2008.

The Braves won three games by forfeit in the regional championship victory over Grayling, however the Vikings still won three of the first four matches that were played.

Sam Taylor went down to Gage Toomey 9-2 and Grayling’s Michael Phipps pinned Keenan Barron at 135 and 152 respectively. Gladstone picked it up in time though.

Starting at 189, the Braves took six of the next seven to secure the victory. Jake Kujala’s pin of Darren Joseph at 119 clinched it for Gladstone.

“Kujala wrested great in both matches, he actually clinched them both for us with two big pins. That was really big,” said Gladstone head coach Jesse DeBacker.

In the semifinal, the Braves overcame Roscommon 46-28, defeating a team that had eliminated Gladstone in each of the past three seasons.

“We wrestled real tough against Roscommon and we focused for that match,” said DeBacker. “We had some that went our way, some that didn’t, but when it came down to it, the kids really stepped up.

“Josh Kadish wrestled outstanding and so did Jared Syverson and Jake Cornick but in reality, everyone wrestled good. Even all of our losses were really close. As a team we were just on our game for the first match. We got off it a bit in the second,. We came out kind of flat and still got the win.”

Gladstone will now travel to Battle Creek for the state quarterfinals on Feb. 22.