(Prep Wrestling) Escanaba, Gladstone send three to championship

MARQUETTE – Three area wrestlers were in the hunt, but came up a little short in their quest for individual titles in Saturday’s Marquette Challenge.

Escanaba junior Zach Priebe and senior Kaleb Rahoi and Gladstone senior Tom Bailey reached the championship round, each settling for runner-up honors under the spotlight in the Marquette High School gym.

New Lothrop (near Flint) took the home the championship trophy for the first time in 11 years with 246 points, followed by three-time defending champ Merrill, Wis. 204 and Grandville 155.

“It’s kind of fitting for this group of seniors to go home with the trophy,” said New Lothrop coach Jeff Campbell. “It’s usually an eight-hour bus ride up here, but this time we got snowed in and it took about 10 hours. Our fans travel well. The town gets excited. They want to be here and the kids feed off that. The tournament was awesome and the finals are pretty special. Our younger kids get a chance to see what this is like, and they can’t wait to get their chance to wrestle under the lights.”

New Lothrop senior Josh Wendling, who won the 160-pound division, was selected Most Valuable Wrestler and Merrlll junior Scott Arneson received an award for the most pins. He pinned four opponents in eigth minutes, 10 seconds.

Gladstone placed sixth with 114 points and Esky took ninth at 79 1/2.

“A lot of things went good and a couple things went real bad for us,” said Gladstone coach Jesse DeBacker. “We had such a disappointing loss (at Escanaba) Thursday night. I think our kids knew what they had to do to step up, and we’re leaving this meet with a much better feeling. We need to stay focused and keep moving in the direction we’re going.”

Iron Mountain junior Jared Gauthier was the lone Upper Peninsula grappler to be crowned champion, taking an 8-4 decision from Gaylord senior Seth Lashuay in the 125 final.

“I was told by a couple coaches he liked to use the chest crusher,” said Gauthier, who overcame a 4-0 deficit. “Most of the kids in Gaylord use that. I knew what to expect. I was down 4-0, then got a reversal. That turned the tide bigtime. It’s very rewarding to come here and win my first Marquette Challenge, and do it against top-notch competition. This is what makes you better.”

Rahoi dropped an 8-2 decision to Sparta sophomore Joel Rees in the 145-pound final and Priebe got pinned 3:09 into the 130 final by Arneson.

Priebe reached the title match by taking a 9-0 decision from New Lothrop junior Dalton Birchmeier.

“Zach wrestled an excellent semifinal match, and the 145 final was a good match,” said Esky coach Jamie Segorski. “Kaleb was in it, but he got a little high a couple times. Those are little things that can be fixed.”

Priebe appeared to hold his own in the title bout, but surrendered takedowns to Arneson late in the first period and early in the second prior to being pinned.

“He got a few good shots and turned me,” said Priebe. “One thing I learned is I have to stay in my offense and sustain my shots. I just have to move forward from here.”

Segorski had similar thoughts.

“Zach gets the picture,” he said. “He’s a good kid who’s doing some real good things.”

Bailey was pinned 1:37 into the 285 final by Merrill senior Tyler Schmidt, ranked 15th in the nation.

“It was pretty exciting to see Tom get into the championship round,” said DeBacker. “We haven’t had anybody in the finals here for about 4-5 years.”

Additional area place winners include Gladstone’s Bobby Beauchamp (135) and Esky’s Travis Heller (160) in third, Gladstone’s Jeremy Kadish (152) and Jake Cronick (189) fourth and Esky’s Hunter Sadler (152) fifth.

“I thought 160 was a loaded weight class,” said Segorski. “Travis wrestled real well to get third.”

Four other U.P. grapplers placed fifth. They were Iron Mountain’s Alex Edwards (119) and Jacob Weslin 145), Marquette’s Hunter Moore (130) and St. Ignace’s James Cryderman (160).

“Alex had to sit out the first round,” said Gauthier. “Otherwise, I think he could have been in the semifinals. Jake lost in the opening round, but wrestled real well to get fifth. It was nice to see these guys stand on the podium.”

The summary: