by Angie Asam–Staff Writer
With a 42-36 victory over the Ishpeming Westwood Patriots the Onaway Cardinals wrestling team captured its first regional title in school history. The Cardinals now advance to the state semifinals, Friday, Feb. 23 at noon at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. Pairings for the battle of the top eight will be released Sunday.
Two weight classes into the dual with the host Patriots, the Cardinals trailed 12-0. Coach Mark Grant’s message to his team was simple “feed off this energy,” as he repeated it several times.
At 125 pounds Joey Galvez won by pin in 1:21 to get the Cardinals on the board. Two weight classes later Onaway took the lead 18-12 and never looked back. Pins by Teddy Peters at 130 and Matthew Grant at 135, both in the first period gave Onaway the lead. Brendan Fenstermaker won by pin at 140 pounds in 34 seconds, increasing the lead to 24-12.
Sam Tennant, battling through an injury to compete for his team, stepped to the mat at 145 pounds. Tennant put Brendon Perry on his back in the first period, and again in the third period as he won 10-7 to increase the lead to 27-12.
“There’s a kid who sacrificed it all for the team. He was hurting at districts and he told me he thought he could continue to wrestle but that he would rather go home and try to be ready for the team on Wednesday. What do you say to that? What a fantastic perspective,” said coach Grant.
Seth Enos took on a tough Rocco Carlson at 152 and put him to his back in the first period as he controlled the match and won 7-3.
Coty Ionetz won by pin at 160 pounds making the score 36-12 in favor of the Cardinals. At 171 pounds Colby Pauly took the mat against Brenden Collins and worked a first period pin to seal the deal for Onaway as they led 42-12 with four weight classes remaining.
Onaway would void 189 and lose at 215, 285 and 103 hanging on to the dual to win the first regional title in school history.
“We have been here three times, third time is the charm. What can I say, we have been talking about this since early in the year, about how possible it was,” said coach Grant. With nearly a full lineup coach Grant was able to establish some team goals this season.
The first was to have a winning dual record, the Cardinals are now 18-6, goal accomplished.
The second was to go after the conference title. The Cardinals avenged early season losses to Oscoda and Whittemore Prescott to clinch the district title at home Jan. 24, goal accomplished.
The third, a district title, which the Cardinals did in dominating fashion last Thursday in Rogers City. And the fourth winning a regional title, mission accomplished.
“It’s fun, the whole year has been about that,” said coach Grant, who jokingly told his team they are so gullible he told them they could win a regional title and they did it. “What more can you say than I am just dang proud of them. From kids that knew they were going out there to fight a bear with a stick, it was guts and determination. There were some really cool moments tonight,” said coach Grant.
In the regional semifinals Onaway defeated St. Ignace 48-36. Aidan Fry (103), Britney Wolgast (112), Galvez (125), Peters (130), Matthew Grant (135), Fenstermaker (140) and Enos (145) all won by pin while Ionetz took a void at 152 to give Onaway a 48-6 lead. Onaway then voided the remaining five weight classes, with the dual firmly in their grasp not wanting to risk injury, to take the dual 48-36.