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Veitch's 800th win keeps Vikes atop GLAC

The Lakewood varsity wrestling team gathers with coach Bob Veitch as they celebrate his 800th dual meet victory following wins over Perry and Leslie at the GLAC Quad at Lakewood High School Wednesday, Jan. 8. (Photo by Brett Bremer)


Brett Bremer

Sports Editor

Lakewood wrestling coach Bob Veitch remembers win number one as a thrilling Viking upset of Caledonia, with a couple big headlocks taking down state-ranked Fighting Scots nearly 40 years ago.

Dual win number 799 came Wednesday evening as the Lakewood varsity wrestling team opened the second GLAC Quad of the season with a 72-6 win over Perry. Victory 800 soon followed as the Vikings defeated the Leslie Blackhawks 51-30.

“It is like any program. If somebody stays at a program long enough and builds stability there is success,” Veitch said. “I don't care what sport it is. I have been here long enough and had good kids, and we've been successful.”

“He is a nervous wreck,” the Vikings current co-head coach Tony Harmer said of Veitch. “It doesn't matter if we are wrestling the worst team, he always wants the best for the kids. That means all 14 that are wrestling, he wants them in the best position to win to have a great experience.”

Veitch entered the season third on the MHSAA list of all-time winningest wrestling coaches behind only Stevensville Lakeshore’s Bruce Bittenbender and Hudson’s Scott Marry.

The Leslie Blackhawks came into this season as the Vikings’ top challengers for a conference crown. The Lakewood wrestlers, ranked fifth in the state in Division 3, are now 4-0 in GLAC duals.

Lakewood got rolling early against Leslie. Nathaniel Graham beat Leslie state qualifier Ethan Fehrenbach 8-4 in the 160-pound bout to open coach Veitch’s 800th varsity wrestling coaching victory. Kyle Petrie scored a pin at 171 for a 9-0 Lakewood lead. After a Blackhawk pin at 189, Lakewood’s Jon Clack pinned Leslie state qualifier Ben Smieska in the second period of the 215-pound match. Smieska, who Clack pinned at the Individual State Finals a year ago, came out strong scoring two take downs of Clack in the opening period before the Viking state medalist earned a second-period reversal and put Smieska on his back.

Veitch called it a huge win for Clack because he was able to through a couple of unsuccessful early attempts to throw Smieska.

The Vikings added five forfeit wins and a pin from Kanon Atwell to finish off the Blackhawks. It was a banner night for Atwell too as he earned his 150th varsity victory with his 6-4 decision against Perry’s Jacob Orweller who was the lone returning state qualifier in the Ramblers’ line-up.

“It's really positioning. It's a chess match for later on,” Harmer said of the showdown with the Blackhawks, who they will see again at the conference meet. “You're trying to match up your best guys against their best guys, but in the same sense you don't want to give up any loses that could put you in a bad position (in the dual), but you need to know that going into the league meet for individuals. I am sure that is what they were doing.”

Leslie got some big points doing that at 152 pounds, moving up 140-pounder Grant Weber who managed to pin the Vikings' Vern Fields early in the second period of their bout.

“We've got some work to do, staying in position and moving more on the bottom. I think Vern will come back strong. He's going to want it,” Harmer said.

In all, four Vikings were honored with banner presentations at the home meet. Clack was presented with his 150th varsity win banner as well Wednesday and Fields was honored for his 100th varsity victory. Clack, is a three-time state qualifier and two-time state medalist. Fields and Atwell each qualified for the individual state finals as freshmen, and Atwell returned to the finals as a junior last winter to earn his first state medal.

Coach Veitch, who has been leading the program along with Harmer the last couple of seasons, said it was great kids who allowed him to reach milestone after milestone throughout his long coaching career, with the assistance of great coaches and parents, terrific program sponsors and most of all the support of his wife who allowed him to coach a sport he loves all these years.

Veitch said he expects this to be his last big round numbered milestone.

The Maple Valley grapplers were in the old gymnasium at Lakewood High School Wednesday too, and will finish off GLAC duals at home against the Vikings Jan. 29. The Lions faced the same foes the Vikings did Tuesday, falling 50-18 to Leslie before a tough 33-30 win over the Perry Ramblers.

AJ Raymond scored a 2-0 win over the Lions at 171 pounds against Leslie's Nathaniel Courtney, getting a third-period reversal for the only points of the bout. Jesse Brumm scored a 14-8 decision against the Blackhawks' Cannon Risner at 130 pounds for their team's other win on the mat.

Gage Ertman and Jordan Thorton at 103 pounds and 112 respectively, scored forfeit wins against Leslie for the Lions.

In the end, the Lions' dual with Perry came down to the 145-pound match where Tristin Collins needed a win to clinch the dual for Maple Valley. Collins had his ups and downs throughout the match with Drake VanWormer, but the two battled to a 4-4 stalemate through three periods. Neither wrestler was able to score in the initial overtime session, or either of the two tie-breaking rounds before a reversal by Collins in the ultimate tie-breaking round finally secured him and the Lion team the win.

Raymond at 171 pounds had a pin for the Lions in the dual with the Ramblers, and Brumm and David Hosack-Frizzell each scored decisions. Hosack-Frizzell's came in overtime too, a 3-2 victory over Andrew McConnell at 189 pounds. Brumm bested Seth Grooms 8-2 at 135 pounds.

Maple Valley got forfeit wins by Ertman, Dante Buttleman and Cody Taylor in the dual. Taylor's arm-raising at 152 pounds finished off the three-point win for the Lions after Collins' victory.

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