Indians fall to Niles in state quarterfinal
Winning the first three of four matches at the Division II state quarterfinals in Battle Creek on Friday, Feb. 22, had Tecumseh’s varsity wresting team looking like it may advance to the state semifinals. However, No. 3 ranked Niles came from behind and put an end to the No. 6 ranked Indians’ season (30-13 overall) with a 36-26 final.
St. John’s, the No. 1 ranked team in the tournament, defeated No. 2 ranked Lowell 42-20 for the state championship.
Lowell advanced to the final with a 31-26 victory against Niles in the semifinal.
“We would of liked to get back to the Final Four, that was one of our goals this year and we didn’t get it done,” said Tecumseh head coach Tony Greathouse. “However, I am extremely proud of this team. They handled themselves like great young men Friday night, competed really hard and stuck together until the very end.”
Tecumseh’s Landon Pelham opened Tecumseh’s quarterfinal match against Niles at 189-pounds and lost by decision (9-5) against Ryan Casey.
Preston Pelham gave the Indians their first win of the night in the following 215-pound match. He defeated Travis Edwards by major decision (14-2) for a 4-3 Tecumseh lead.
Heavyweight Joe Rebottaro followed with another Tecumseh win, defeating Derek Scott 4-0 to give the Indians a 7-3 advantage.
Ricky Azelton recorded a major decision (17-5) at 103-pounds over Niles’ Courtland Lamberton and Tecumseh increased its lead to 11-3, but Niles would win the following five matches to overtake the Indians.
At 112-pounds, Niles’ Brendon Meek defeated Nick Wyatt by tech-fall (22-7) and Nicholas Zimmerman won by decision (11-6) at 119-pounds over Jake Hilton to tie the semifinal match 11-11.
Niles’ Darek Bullock-Mills pinned Luke Liuzzi (1:06) at 125-pounds and the Vikings regained a lead (17-11) they would not relinquish.
Noah Hall pinned Wyatt Cadmus (4:42) at 130-pounds and Warren Smith defeated Kyle Humphries (135) by decision (16-9) before Tecumseh won another bout.
Tecumseh’s Anthony Lesko (140) won by decision (8-1) over Kevin Reed and the Indians set the score at 26-14.
Niles’ Casey Burandt pinned Bryan Tripp (:37) at 145-pounds to increase the Vikings’ lead to 32-14 and the Indians needed to record pins in the final three bouts to tie the match 32 all. Unfortunately for the Indians that didn’t happen. Tecumseh closed out the competition with two pins and a loss by major decision.
Tecumseh’s Travis Byrd pinned Fritzel Findeisen (:47) at 152-pounds but Niles’ Jerrico Lamberton won by major decision (15-1) against Taylor Jardine at 160-pounds.
Cole Amstutz (171) pinned Niles’ Sean Craig (1:31) to end all matches.
It was the second consecutive appearance at the state meet for second season Indians’ coach Greathouse (60-17).
“When evaluating this season as a whole, we don’t just look at the wins and losses, we look at the progress and the journey that we had,” Greathouse said. “We made more progress as a team this season than I have ever seen and that is a testament to the dedication and hard work of these wrestlers and also our excellent coaching staff. It was a team effort all the way, from the wrestlers to the coaches to the parent support all the way down the line.”
The Indians have six continuing their season at the individual finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday and Saturday, March 1-2.
Advancing to the palace with regional titles are Tecumseh’s Landon Pelham (44-10) and Preston Pelham (46-9). Also advancing to the Palace are Azelton (37-14), Lesko (46-7), Amstutz (39-10), and Rebotarro (45-9).
“I can’t wait to see what our six individuals can do this weekend, they are all seasoned wrestlers who will be ready to take care of business,” said Greathouse. “They will need to stay focused on taking it one match at a time and anything can happen, I think all six have a great shot of advancing far into the tournament and they can all place if they just go out and wrestle the same way they have all season long.”
Results from the Division II individual state finals will be reported in next week’s Tecumseh Herald.