By Andrew Johnson
MOUNT PLEASANT – Richmond and Dundee have dominated Division 3 wrestling in Michigan for the past decade.
The Whitehall wrestling team managed to get past Richmond on Friday, but Dundee was just too much.
The Vikings only managed to win five of 14 matches against Dundee in the state semifinals at Central Michigan University on Saturday and fell 39-18.
Whitehall, which won the West Michigan Conference title and district and regional championships, finished the season with a 26-2 record.
Whitehall head coach Cliff Sandee said the Vikings were able to beat two of Dundee’s best wrestlers, but it ultimately wasn’t enough.
“We felt like we could win 8 matches and if you win 8 matches you have a chance to win a dual,” he said. “It just didn’t happen. That’s why Dundee is one of the best programs in the state and they were just better.”
Sandee said that even with the semifinal loss, his senior class left a mark on the Whitehall wrestling program that won’t be forgotten.
“This senior group is pretty special with them winning four county titles, four conference titles, four district titles and making it to four regionals. They made the culture now where it’s expected here, with three final fours in six years.”
The match started well for Whitehall when Jojo Dowdell defeated Kyle Reinhart in a 4-3 decision in the 152-pound match.
But Dundee responded by taking the next six matches and gaining a 27-3 lead.
Winning for Dundee in the six match stretch were Sean Sterling (160), Kyle Motylinski (171), Brandon Whitman (189), who won with pins, and Gabe Heiserman (215), Tyler Mayo (285), and Jonathon White (103), who won with decisions.
Derek McCollom (160), Joe Haynes (171), Jake Parmely (189), Luke Morningstar (215), Jordin Patterson (285), and Hunter Bower (103) were the losing Whitehall wrestlers in the six match stretch.
The Vikings didn’t fold up and go home after the rough start. Trenton Blanchard (112) attempted to start a Viking rally by defeating Daniel Jaworski 5-2.
Whitehall’s Corey Robinson (119) followed with a pin of Gavin Rorke only 1:12 into the first round to cut the Dundee lead to 27-12.
But the Vikings lost their momentum when they lost matches to Dundee’s Zachary Bellaire, who defeated Allen Powers 20-14 decision, and Cal McAvoy (130), who defeated Dominick Haynes 11-4.
With only three matches remaining, Whitehall faced a 33-12 deficit and was officially eliminated.
Even though the final three matches didn’t affect the outcome, they may have been the most entertaining of the match with Whitehall’s Reiley Brown (135) picking up a last minute victory in a 3-2 decision over Tylor Orrison.
Jwan Britton (140) followed Brown with an even more exiting finish. He trailed 3-2 in his match with Zachary Blevins with only seconds remaining, but was able to get a two-point takedown and steal a 4-3 victory.
Blevins is ranked first in the state at 140 while Britton is second. The two could easily meet again at next Saturday’s individual state finals.
“It felt pretty good, it was a plan to wear him out and do what I had to do to get the last second takedown, I just had to keep the match close,” Britton said. “I know that I can probably make it to the finals next week but its steps. I have to win my quarterfinal and semifinal match first.
In the final match Alex Motylinski (145) of Dundee put the final touches on a 39-18 victory with a pin of Josh Thommen (145) at the 3:00 mark of the match.