Redskins’ varsity wrestling team advances to state for first time

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Clinton’s varsity wrestling team placed first at regionals to qualify for the state finals. Photo submitted.

For the first time ever, Clinton High School’s varsity wrestling team has qualified to advance to the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Division 4 state team wresting finals in Battle Creek.

The Redskins qualified by winning the regional championship at Memphis on Thursday, Feb. 13, with a 48-24 victory over Byron in the regional final.

Clinton advanced to the regional final with a dominating 58-18 win over Memphis in the semifinal.

The dual opened at 103-pounds and Hunter Mellinger got the Redskins off to a quick start with a pin in just 52 seconds.

Following a pin by Memphis at 112-pounds, Zech Johnston came out and recorded a pin in 1:53 to put Clinton back on top 12-6.

Memphis answered with back-to-back pins at 125- and 130-pounds to take a 18-12 lead.

However, the Redskins didn’t give up another loss, taking the next nine weights classes to secure a shot at the regional title.

Clinton’s Tanner Phillips (135) started the nine-win streak by beating a regional qualifier 8-2. Hunter Trubiano (140) followed with a pin in 3:43 and Jeffrey Rolland (145) avenged an individual district tournament loss by upsetting his opponent 8-3.

Nicholas Rolland (152) and Kam Ward (160) followed with pins to put Clinton up 37-18.

Kenny Deshano took the mat against a wrestler that pinned him Saturday but recorded the biggest upset of the night with a sound 18-9 victory to seal the semifinal win.

Keagan Ward (189) followed with a pin in 1:33 before Memphis forfeited the last two weights to Brett Tschirhart and Tanner Bowles for the final score.

The Redskin’s continued wrestling soundly and went on to earn its first ever Regional championship and a trip to Battle Creek for the state final with a 14 point win over Byron.

Clinton dropped an 11-8 decision at 112-pounds to open the meet and trailed 4-0.

Fletcher Mellinger (119) received a forfeit for Clinton while Zech Johnston (125) recorded a pin to give Clinton a 12-4 lead.

A pin at 130 and a loss at 135 by Byron had Clinton behind at 13-12.

Huntter Trubiano (140) and Jeffrey Rolland (145) again answered the bell for the Redskins recording pins in 1:37 and 1:04 respectively and Clinton never trailed again.

Clinton lost a decision at 152-pounds before senior captains Kamdan and Keagan Ward recorded pins at 160- and 171-pounds to put the ‘Skins up 33-16.

Byron fought back and recorded a pin at 189 to cut Clinton’s lead to 33-22.

Brett Tschirhart clinched the title for Clinton in dramatic come-from-behind fashion. Trailing 3-2 with under 20 seconds remaining, he recorded a takedown and 4-3 win to seal the regional title victory at 36-22.

Byron recorded a pin at heavyweight before Clinton freshman Hunter Mellinger closed the meet with a first period pin for a final margin of 42-28.

“This team has fought so hard all year to get to this point,” said Clinton coach Jeff Rolland. “They decided day one they wanted to be regional champs and put in the work for it. Tonight it paid off and [assistant] coach [Casey] Randolph and I are so happy and proud of this group of 28 young men. We will represent Redskin Nation proudly on the big stage at Battle Creek Friday, February twenty-first!”

Clinton will face the number one seed, Hudson, in the opening quarterfinal round on Friday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m.

Carson City-Crystal, the number four seed, faces Hespria in the other bracket.

The winners wrestle in the semifinal at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22. The final follows the same afternoon at 4 p.m.

Clinton had nine wrestlers advance to the blood round at the individual D-4 regional at Hudson on Saturday, Feb. 15, but each failed to advance to the state meet.

“This is the story of this team — no studs just 28 hardworking solid kids,” said Rolland. “Watch for us in the future though as we return eight of these 10 and several more very similar in ability!”

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