A.J. Benn, left, of Northwest High School battles Trevor Baker of Western High School during the Michigan High School Athletic Association district tournament at NWHS. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
By Jeff Steers
On a night of Michigan High School Athletic Association wrestling district action, points were hard to come by. Western High School scored just enough to upset Northwest in the Division 2 district final at NWHS on Thursday night.
The Panthers tied the Mounties at 28, but won on criteria – most wins by a count of 8-6.
Western joins five other area schools who will advance to regional semifinals in team wrestling on Wednesday of next week. Regional tournament winners advance to the MHSAA state team finals Feb. 28, 29 at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.
Also winning district titles in Division 3 were Napoleon and Onsted High Schools. The Pirates will wrestle No. 1 ranked Dundee and Onsted will wrestling Monroe Jefferson at a yet-to-be-determined site in Division 3.
Springport, Manchester, and Addison won Division 4 district titles. Addison will wrestle Union City in the regional semifinal in one Division 4 regional; and Springport will wrestle Byron and Manchester’s opponent has yet to be determined in another regional.
The MHSAA has yet to name geographic hosts for the regional tournaments.
Western didn’t care where they wrestled Northwest. The Mounties were undefeated in Interstate-8 Conference action including a 39-19 win against the Panthers earlier in the season.
But Western Coach Greg Hoffman said the Panthers wrestled well at the I-8 final and had some confidence going into the district tournament.
“We came closer (to Northwest) at the conference meet,” Hoffman said. “The minute before we left the building (at the I-8 tournament), the team felt we could get them (Northwest) at districts.
“They believed it.”
Northwest jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first four matches. The Panthers took the lead at 16-14 on a win by Brock Myers at 285 pounds. Western won a pair of key matches at 103 and 112 to extend the lead to 22-14.
The Mounties earned three consecutive wins – including a pin by Payne Boulter at 125.
Northwest led 28-22 heading into the final two matches. But Evan Dodd (135) and Gage Parker (140) each earned wins for Western to tie the score.
The outcome was determined on criteria – a listing of ways a tie could be broken. The Panthers won on most wins with eight in the 14-match event.
Parker supplied what would be the winning points for Western.
“There was a lot of pressure … I wanted to pull through for the team,” Parker said after the match. “We have beaten Northwest in previous year and knew we were a good team.”
Western will face Mason in the Division 2 regional next Wednesday.
Wrestling district tournament action
Feb. 12, 13
Division 1 at Battle Creek Lakeview
Holt 64, Jackson 9
Division 2 at Northwest
Western 64, Marshall 15
Northwest 72, B.C. Pennfield 6
Western 29, Northwest 28
Division 3 at Adrian Madison
Madison 54, Columbia Central 30
Onsted 45, Madison 31
Division 3 at Jonesville
Napoleon 45, Hillsdale 32
Jonesville 54, Michigan Center 18
Napoleon 46, Jonesville 33
Division 4 at Leslie
Springport 38, Leslie 30
Springport 46, Lumen Christi 28
Division 4 at East Jackson
Manchester 81, Vandercook 0
Grass Lake 40, East Jackson 36
Manchester 71, Grass Lake 12
Division 4 at Addison
Addison 60, Homer 20
Hanover-Horton 78, Concord 6
Addison 40, Hanover-Horton 27