Indians fall to St. Johns in state wrestling semifinal
The final seedings in the Division 2 state championship team wrestling finals at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek over the weekend, February 21-22, proved extremely accurate as the top three schools finished exactly as expected by the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
But competition was also much closer than anyone expected with St. Johns beating Tecumseh by just two points, 35-33, in the semifinal before falling by only one point (35-34) against Lowell in the championship final after a 34-34 deadlock. The Red Arrows earned the championship trophy by winning the dual on the fifth criteria — or tiebreaker — total six-point wins.
Tecumseh hit the mats swinging and took a 12-0 lead in the semifinal against St. Johns after winning the first three bouts with a pin at 125 (Robert Comar over Derek Droste, 2:22), and decisions at 130- (Jake Hilton over Bret Fedewa, 7-4) and 135-pounds (Wyatt Cadmus over Alejandro Guajardo, 8-4).
A fall at 140-pounds (Zac Hall over Tyler Maclachlan) and a tech fall at 145-pounds (Mark Bozzo over Kyle Humphries) had St. Johns down by just one point (12-11) with nine matches remaining.
St. Johns took its first lead of the match (17-12) with a pin at 152-pounds with Drew Wixson beating Devin Moore (3:41).
The Redwings increased their lead to 23-12 with another pin at 160-pounds (Logan Massa over DJ Tirado).
The teams traded pins in the following two matches with Tecumseh’s Travis Byrd beating Noalyn Gove (171, :24) and St. John’s Angus Arthur beating Kody McCrate (189, 3:38).
The Redwings held a 29-18 lead before the Indians sent out three of their top three wrestlers looking to turn things around.
Landon Pelham (51-3) delivered a pin at 215-pounds to set the team score at 29-24 and his brother Preston Pelham (50-1) followed and recorded a three point win by decision (9-2), but the Indians were still behind 29-27.
Ricky Azelton (48-3) gave Tecumseh a 30-29 lead after winning by a 6-2 decision for another three points with only two more matches remaining.
St. John’s Ian Parker pinned Tecumseh’s Jarred Waite (1:48) at 112-pounds to give the Redwings a 35-30 lead and the entire weight of the contest fell upon the shoulders of Tecumseh’s 119-pounder, Drew Marten (45-9).
Anything short of a pin in the final bout and the Indians’ season was over. Marten closed the first period down 0-2 but tied the match 4-4 and then 6-6 before winning by just one point at 7-6.
However, the Indians were three points shy of beating the Redwings and closed the season with a solid record of 32-3.
In its final victory of the season in the quarterfinal on Friday against Warren Woods Tower, the Indians won the first four bouts. The event opened at 285-pounds with Preston Pelham recording a pin over Josh Pickett (1:19) to get the Indians’ fans on their feet.
Azelton (103) followed with a 9-5 decision over Joe Schindler and Marten (112) pinned Touger Lee (3:13). Robert Comar (119) defeated Al-Amunil Haque 10-5 and put the Indians up 18-0.
The Titans recorded their first points with a major decision (18-6) over Jake Hilton at 125-pounds but Tecumseh’s Cadmus made up for the loss of four points by adding six by way of pin at 130-pounds over Nick Weilemann (3:14).
Warren Woods Tower won the next three matches but was still down 24-14. Recording the wins for the Titans were Nico Martini (135, Maj Dec.) over Cody Marcum, Janice Donald (140, Dec.) over Kyle Humphries and Alfred Bowlson (145, Dec.) over Josh Marcum.
Tecumseh secured the quarterfinal victory with pins in the last five matches.
Devin Moore (152) pinned Leng Lee (2:59); Travis Byrd (160) pinned Garrett Pehote (2:58); Drake Vandenberg (171) pinned Nathan Pipes (:28); McCrate (189) pinned Tyler Vargo (1:20); and Landon Pelham (215) pinned Darrell Cowart (2:30).
Tecumseh’s head coach is Josh Lindeman. His assistant coaches are George Lesko and Nick Conklin.