by Angie Asam–Staff Writer
Senior Onaway wrestler Joe Traynham was named the most valuable wrestler in the lower weight division at the Gaylord Northern Michigan Championships Saturday. Traynham won the title at 112 pounds. Joe Galer (2000) and Zack Galer (2002) are other Cardinals who have earned the honor of being most valuable wrestler at the Gaylord tournament.
“Joe wrestled solid and did exactly what he was expected to do. He is getting more focused now and seems to be a bit more fluid in his movements, which is a good sign for this time of the year. It was nice to see him be recognized for all of his hard work by receiving the most valuable wrestler award,” said coach Mark Grant.
In the round of 16 Traynham pinned Whittemore Prescott’s Brandon Neiman in 1:30 to move on to the quarterfinals where he pinned Tom Merchberger of Sault Ste. Marie in 2:22.
In the semifinals he won by major decision over Pinconning’s Nathan Childs 15-2 to move on to the finals where he pinned Mio’s Patrick Stephens in 1:08 to claim the title.
NOT TO be outdone by Traynham, junior Zeke Nave took the title at 125 pounds. Nave had a bye in the round of 16 and then won by technical fall over Aris Morgan of Traverse City St. Francis 17-0 at the 4:00 mark to move on to the semifinals. In the semis he battled Gaylord’s Trent Hibner and won 4-3.
In the finals Nave pinned Charlevoix’s Camden Alden in 4:00 to take the title.
“Zeke is hitting that next level and believing in himself more every day. He won a tough semifinal match and maintained his composure very well under the adversity of the moment. He is starting to believe in himself as much as I believe in him, that makes it more fun,” said coach Grant.
Senior Elijah Shockley went down to 171 pounds for the Gaylord tournament. He pinned Jake Kinglesmith of Traverse City St. Francis in 2:39 to start his day. He then fell to eventual champion Tyler Blagg of Ogemaw Heights by pin at the 3:46 mark. In the first wrestle back round he got caught by experience and was pinned in 2:26 to end his day.
“Elijah naturally progressed to 171 so we decided to run him there to see how it went. He wrestled very well; he just had a tough draw that put him in the better side of the bracket. Although he did not make it to the medals, he got to wrestle the best kid in the bracket and made that kid work for the win. He is showing so much athleticism and determination right now, who knows where that will take him,” said coach Grant.
Senior Raymond Self (130) also competed but had a tough draw and finished 0-2 on the day.
“Raymond simply had a tough day. He is tough, fast and strong. He does not like to lose and he is working hard to keep that from happening. Over the next few weeks we will keep him moving forward to see what the postseason will bring. Everybody starts at 0-0 once the district charts are posted.
THE CARDINALS are in Rogers City Saturday for the Straits Area Conference/North Star League challenge beginning at 10 a.m. Team districts are set for next Thursday in Charlevoix with the individual district tournament next Saturday in Manton.