Whitehall wins 12th straight city wrestling title; Lipka and Thomas three-peat

By Steve Gunn
LocalSportsJournal.com

WHITEHALL – It’s hard to win a city wrestling championship.

It’s even more difficult to repeat.

So that says a great deal about the Whitehall wrestling squad, which captured an incredible 12th consecutive team title on Saturday at the Greater Muskegon Athletic Association City Wrestling Tournament.

Whitehall’s Trenton Blanchard gets down low before wrapping up his opponent in the finals. Photo/Leo Valdez

“It’s a good run, I feel really good for our seniors,” said Whitehall Coach Cliff Sandee, whose team won the tournament in its own gym this year. “This is always a good gauge for us. It’s a good test.

“Reeths-Puffer (which took second place) is a good wrestling team. To beat them, it feels good.”

The Vikings weren’t the only ones to enjoy the thrill of repeating as city champions.

Montague’s Matthew Lipka and Reeths-Puffer’s Brett Thomas also pulled off a pretty rare achievement, winning their third individual city titles.

Lipka, a senior, pinned Reeths-Puffer’s Jack Tevrucht in 1:30 in the 140-pound finals to claim his third city metal. His victory in the finals was also his 150th career victory.

“It was pretty cool,” said Lipka, who is now 30-0 on the season. “Last year I tried to get my 100th (at city), but missed it by a week. This year it felt really good, because it landed right on the championship match.”

Whitehall’s Jarrean Sargent tries to go for the roll and pin. Photo/Leo Valdez

Thomas, also a senior, pinned Orchard View’s Jordan Tuttle in 1:14 in the 285-pound finals.

“It’s a big deal, especially with a team like Whitehall here, to win it back-to-back-to-back,” said Thomas, who is now 26-2 on the season.

Whitehall rolled to its 12th straight team title with 239.5 points. The Vikings had seven weight class champions, four wrestlers who placed second, one who placed third and one who took fourth.

Reeths-Puffer took second place with 192, followed by Fruitport (116), Orchard View (91), Ravenna (55), Mona Shores (47), Montague (44.5), Muskegon Catholic (26), Holton (24) and Muskegon (18).

Winning individual titles for Whitehall were Hunter Bower (119), Mitchell White (130), Tom Balaskovitz (135), Trenton Blanchard (152), Derek McCollom (160), Kayleb Vennema (171) and Jarrean Sargent (215).

White captured his first individual city title in exciting fashion, breaking a tied match in the finals and winning 7-6 by getting a one-point escape with three seconds left.

Reeths-Puffer’s Jacob Blawat holds his tongue out after winning a tiring match at 112. Photo/Leo Valdez

“I was either going to overtime or taking it right now, so I took it right now,” said White, a senior who took second place last year in the 125-pound class. “I was on my butt, I figured I could get it done right there, so I took a chance and got out.”

Vennema also won his first individual title, which meant a lot, considering he lost in the city finals last year by one point in overtime while nursing a very high fever.

“I had a fever of like 103, I think,” said Vennema, a sophomore who is now 28-3 on the season. “This feels great.”

Sandee, the Whitehall coach, credited several other Viking wrestlers for great performances on Saturday.

“Balaskovitz, that kid is a leader,” the coach said about his 135-pound champion. “He doesn’t pin people, then he goes out and pins a kid from Shores in the finals.

“Sargent (the 215-pound champ) was sub-.500 last year. I don’t know if he pinned his way to the title today, but if he didn’t he came close.”

Sandee also gave a shout-out to Kyler Honore, who was filling in for the injured two-time city champion Josh Thommen, and finished second in the 145-pound division.

“That kid, filling in for a two-time city champ and making it to the finals, that was impressive,” Sandee said.

Other individual champions at the tournament were Jacob Blawat (112), Caleb Jenson (125) and Hunter McCall (189) of Reeths-Puffer; Gary Johnson (145) of Ravenna and Connor Sykes (103) of Fruitport.

Blawat won one of the more exciting championship matches of the day, beating Fruitport’s Zack Sykes in overtime, 3-1.

Taking second in their respective weight classes were Matthew Goodrich (103), Hadden Young (125) Kyler Honore (145) and Allen Powers (189) of Whitehall; Crue Cooper (171) and Zack Sykes (112) of Fruitport; Brendan Hyatt (119), Andrew Puckett (215) and Jordan Tuttle (285) of Orchard View; Alex Chipman (130) and Jack Tevrucht (140) of Reeths-Puffer; Zach Donahue (135) of Mona Shores; Devon Forner (152) of Ravenna; and Ryder Smith (160) of Muskegon Catholic.

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