By Shawn Liverance
Local Sports Journal
AUBURN HILLS – It was a day of 2s and 3s for Muskegon area wrestlers at the MHSAA Individual State Finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Saturday.
The 2s would have been Whitehall ‘s Sika twins winning state championships in back-to-back matches.
The 3s were the third state championship for Whitehall’s Zack Cooper and the third time Hesperia’s Zack Yates placed in the top-three only this year he won a state championship. And, Whitehall coach Cliff Sandee coached three state champions.
On a day when the Muskegon area had seven state finalists, four of them came home with titles and none were more exciting than the Sika twins winning state titles minutes apart.
Steven Sika took on Caro’s Skylar Ley and totally dominated their 160-pound Division 3 title match.
The senior built a 10-1 lead after one period and eventually won his championship on a technical fall by the score of 19-4.
“I really just wanted to take charge of the match early on,” said Steven Sika, who finished the season with a 55-3 record. “It will really only mean something if my brother wins his match. That is what I am thinking about.”
Well, Steven got his wish as his brother Joe followed with a state championship of his own.
Although the score didn’t indicate it, Joe was nearly as dominating as he beat Caro’s Trevor Jaster 4-1 in the 171-pound championship match.
“I knew I had to win after my brother did,” Joe said. “Actually, I don’t watch his matches. I have a coach who makes sure I don’t. The only two times I watched him this season I lost.”
A pair of take downs is all Joe needed to complete his senior season with a 53-2 record.
“Me and my brother always said ‘let’s win matches and tournaments together’ and well, we won the biggest tournament of the year today,” Joe said.
Although the Sika’s won back-to-back titles, it was teammate Zack Cooper who gave Whitehall its first state championship of the day and the first for Sandee as coach of the Vikings.
In workmanlike fashion, senior Zack Cooper beat Grand Rapids West Catholic’s Blake Russo 7-0 in the Division 3 championship match.
It was the third state championship for Cooper, who won back-to-back titles with Chippewa Hills.
“This is a validation of all my hard work,” said Cooper, who finished with a 55-1 record. “I can’t believe I am a state champion let alone three-time champion. Coach Sandee is like a second dad to me and the guys took me in and made me feel great.”
The Vikings nearly ran the table in the finals, but Reiley Brown of came up short in his bid to become a state champion in his freshmen season. He fell to Leslie’s Kanen Storr 9-6 in the Division 3 103-pound championship match.
Brown, who finished with a 47-6 record took a 5-4 lead into the final period, but Storr, who finished with a 54-0 record, took control of the match with three points on a near fall early in the third period.
Overall, Sandee could not have been happier for his four wrestlers.
“I could not have imagined having three state champions,” said Sandee. “What a day. I can’t really explain how it feels right now.”
For Hesperia’s Zack Yates, the third time was the charm in his Division 4 title match and he kept an unbelievable streak intact for the Panthers.
It was the 11th straight year Hesperia has had at least one state champion.
Wrestling at 119 pounds, Yates needed only 59 second to pin Hudson’s Issac Dusseau.
In 2010, he finished third at the finals and last season he was runner-up.
“It feels great to finally break down that door,” said Yates, who finished with a 53-1 record. “It was also nice pay back to beat a kid from Hudson after they beat us in the team finals.”
Yates, a junior, joined his brother Dan as state champions at Hesperia.
Dan, who wrestles for the University of Michigan and was a three-time state champion, was the first one to greet his younger brother when he exited the mat.
“To have him there was great,” said Yates. “He has always been there for me.”
Hesperia junior Chase Siersema came up short in his bid for a state championship for the second time in three years as he dropped a 2-1 match to Hudson’s J.D. Waters in the 135-pound Division 4 state title match.
Siersema, who lost in the title match in 2011 as a freshman, battled Waters to a scoreless tie after one period, but surrendered a reversal in the second period to fall behind 2-0.
Siersema, who finished the season with a 57-7 record, managed an escape point in the third quarter, but could not secure a tying point.
Hart’s Spencer Reterstoff saw his great run end in the Division 4 title match at 152 pounds.
The junior, who had never advanced past districts his first two seasons, fell to Caro’s Jared Bruner 8-4 in his championship match.
Reterstoff, who finished with a 53-5 record, fell down 4-1 after one period and could never comeback against Bruner, who finished with a 51-3 record.
Muskegon was well represented on the medal stand Saturday as 27 wrestlers finished in the top-eight of their respective weight classes to earn all-state honors.
In Division 1, Grand Haven’s Camden Bertucci (112) finished third and Dakota Juarez (160) placed fourth and Connor Moynihan (171) finished in sixth place.
In Division 2, Reeths-Puffer’s Tyler Sternberg (140) placed third, Spring Lake’s Billy Belcher (285) finished in sixth place and Fremont’s Luke Spotts (125) placed seventh.
In Division 3, Shelby’s Austin Felt (112) placed sixth, Newaygo’s Trenton Roesly (130) finished seventh, Whitehall’s Logan Irey (112) was third and Logan Morningstar (285) placed fourth.
In Division 4, Hart’s Jonathan Zarzoza (189) placed sixth, Klayton Ruggles (135) finished seventh and J.R. Hinojosa (215) finished eighth.
Kent City’s Shane Rodenburg (171) finished in third and teammate Konner Wolter (215) finished fourth.
Holton’s Hayden Cregg (135) placed fourth and Montague’s Sawyer Smith (152) placed sixth.
Hesperia’s Lee Siersema (160) finished in third place, Cash Bolles (145) and Eldon Graham (189) placed fourth, Mark Workman (140) finished fifth, Davian Gowens (103) was sixth and David Jacobs (130) was seventh.