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TK takes down Saxons to earn date No. 1

The Thornapple Kellogg varsity wrestling team celebrates with its district championship trophy after a 51-16 win over the host Saxons in the Division 2 District Final at Hastings High School Thursday. (Photo by Brett Bremer)

Brett Bremer

Sports Editor

The Trojans won the Battle for Barry County in December, and returned to the Hastings mats to win the rematch under the spotlight Thursday night.

The Thornapple Kellogg varsity wrestling team won ten of the 14 weight classes in its Division 2 District Final against host Hastings, scoring a 51-16 victory over the Saxons.

Hastings scored three consecutive pins in the final three bouts to earn a one-point win over Wayland in the district semifinal, 39-38, and then took a 9-0 lead through two weight classes against the Trojans. TK won the next eight weight classes though to take a 42-9 lead and clinch the victory.

“They're tough. We knew it going in, obviously,” Hastings head coach Darrell Slaughter said. “I am pleased with going 1-1 today. They sucked it up in the end to get Wayland. I can live with that.”

The win over Wayland was the 25th of the season for the Saxons.

Wayland had a 38-21 lead in the semifinal match with three weight classes to go. Hastings hd gotten its first 21 points from pins by Payton Miller at 152 pounds, Tyler Dull at 160, Jackson Dubois at 215, and a 7-6 win by Shane Dillon at 112 pounds, but a few other matches didn't got the way the Saxons were hoping for.

Still, they were in striking distance with Mason Denton, Robby Slaughter and Gabe Trick on scheduled to wrestle yet against the Wildcats.

“We knew we had a shot, as long as we didn't give up the pin at 125, then I knew we'd have a shot,” coach Slaughter said.

Denton built a 9-2 lead in the 130-pound match against Wayland's Lucas DeWeerd, and pinned him with ten seconds to go in the second period. Robby Slaughter followed that up by pining Mason Jozeska 21 seconds into the 135-pound match, leaving things up to the senior captain Gabe Trick.

Trick put Wayland's Dustin Loomans on his back 31 seconds into the 140-pound  match to give the Saxons another shot at the TK grapplers.

Heavyweights got the momentum rolling for TK in the district final with Hastings, with Adam Bush (171 pounds), Jake Middleton (189), Noah Rosenberg (215) and Carter West (285) each scoring a pin.

Bush, one of three seniors in the line-up for the Trojans, opened the scoring for his team by sticking Carter Smith with 12 seconds remaining in the first period.

“I went out there. I was feeling good. I cut most of the day, so I wasn't in tip-top shape, but I was still feeling pretty good,” Bush said. “I was feeling quite confident about it.”

Bush said it was a little bit of a tough match emotionally for him, calling Smith one of his best “Hastings friends.”

Middleton and Rosenberg each scored pins about half a minute into the second period, against the Saxons' Elias Sanchez and Tyler Oliver, and then West managed to secure the pin on Jackson Dubois just before the horn sounded at the end of the first period in the heavyweight match.

TK also got pins from Ashton Corson and Zack Gibson in the district final, and other victories from Hunter Pitsch, Jackson Curtis, Kyron Zoet and Matthew Middleton. Pitsch wrestled the 103-pound match, scoring a 6-0 win over Hastings' Zach Chipman, and Corson bumped up to 112 to pin the Saxons' Shane Dillon.

“Our lightweights are tough, but our guys behind them are just as tough. We know we have a few plays in there and a few kids like Hunter Pitsch, who has been in and out of the line-up. We knew that he was ready to step in and take that roll at 103,” TK head coach Dayne Fletke said, “ and then we could bump Ashton up, and Zack up, and pretty much everybody to 130.

“I was pretty proud of how all the boys wrestled. They wrestled tough and went out and did what they were supposed to do.”

A season ago, the Trojans took a solid victory over the Saxons in their December meet-up only to lose out to Hastings in the district tournament. TK head coach Dayne Fletke said that was nice motivation in the wrestling room, especially for his juniors and seniors, to look ahead rather than behind.

“I really wanted this one back,” Bush said. “We all fought, everybody. We prepared for it all week. We knew what was coming.”

The Trojans were scheduled to take on top-ranked Lowell in the Division 2 Regional Semifinals in Middleville last night, with Holland and Byron Center squaring off in the other semifinal match-up at TKHS.

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