by Angie Asam – Staff Writer
For the second year in a row senior Joe Traynham and junior Zeke Nave will represent the Onaway Cardinals at the Michigan High School Athletic Association individual state finals March 5-7 at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Traynham will be at the Palace defending the state title he won a year ago. Saturday he won the regional title at 112 pounds to punch his ticket.
In the first round of the regional tournament in Rogers City, Traynham pinned Maddy Lund of Bark River Harris in 35 seconds. He then defeated Patrick Stephens of Mio by major decision 12-1 to move on to the finals.
Traynham defeated Ryan Groendyke of Manton 13-1 to win the regional title.
“Joe wrestled well and I thought looked a little more dominant than in the prior weeks. He is getting his lungs back after battling an illness the week of districts. Although we still have some fine-tuning to do, he looked good and will continue to work toward achieving whatever level of success he can find at the state meet. We are just focused on putting together our best performance and when the dust settles we will see where he finishes,” said coach Mark Grant.
Nave is also making a return trip to the finals where he finished fifth a year ago. Nave was third at 125 pounds at the regional tournament.
In round one Nave pinned Timothy Huddleston of Norway in 1:58. In the semifinals he took on Camden Alden of Charlevoix, a familiar foe, and fell 11-8.
Nave then defeated Aris Morgan of Traverse City St. Francis by technical fall (16-1) in 5:30 to move on to the consolation finals.
In the match for third place Nave defeated Tucker Fansler of Leroy Pine River 5-0 to finish third and punch his ticket to the finals.
“Isaac responded to a disappointing loss the way I expect all of my experienced wrestlers to do. He focused on what
needed to be done and he did it. He knows that he has more to give and I think the loss at the regional will help him approach the state meet with a clear mind and his own vision of what is possible. I have had other wrestlers enter that tournament in worse position than him and just wrestle their way out of it. He fully understands that anyone can be beat on any given day and will use that approach at the Palace. When Isaac is firing on all cylinders he is as good as anyone on that bracket,” said coach Grant.
Senior Elijah Shockley also competed on the day but missed out on a trip to the state finals. Shockley lost to Aaron Bolo of Iron Mountain 7-4 in his first match of the day.
He then rebounded and defeated Reilly McMaster of Mio 9-3 to reach the consolation semifinals where he lost to Jeff Gross of Leroy Pine River 6-4 to end his season.
“Elijah had a great day. He is a first year wrestler who found himself one score away from punching his own ticket to the finals. He is so tough and such a fantastic athlete. Even more important, Elijah is a good person. I am so fortunate to have the chance to get to know young men like him, even if it is for such a short period of time like one season. He is a senior and will be headed off to explore life soon and I only hope that he takes with him some of the many lessons he has learned about life and himself over the past several months. He has left an indelible mark on me during the season,” said coach Grant.