By Ben Murphy
The Clare varsity wrestling team competed in its first Jack Pine Conference bout on Thursday, Jan. 9 in Meridian, but fell to the Mustangs 46-27. The Pioneers also wrestled against the Gaylord ‘B’ team and fell to the Vikings 40-39.
“(We) had a tough time getting rolling from 103 to 152,” Clare head coach Kyle McKay said.
Against the Mustangs Logan Emery (160) scored the first points of the night with a 10-5 decision win and Brandon Ayris (171) and Hart Smalley (189) both won with pins in the first period.
Brenden Hensley (215) also won by disqualification after his opponent illegally slammed him to the mat.
In the second match, against the Vikings Michael Evers (125) won with a pin, Braxton Gomez (145), Emery (160), Eric Litke (171) and Brandon Ayris (189) all followed with pins as well. Smalley (215) earned a 6-3 decision win and Bob Green (285) won with a void as Clare came up just short, 40-39.
“It was a tough night for us as a team,” McKay said. “Between voids and inexperience we just can’t put enough points on the board. It’s like playing football with seven guys, you are going to score some touchdowns but the other team is going to score more. Nonetheless, we had some outstanding matches that we wrestled and I think the JPC championships are going to be very interesting.”
The coach also noted that Hensley may miss extended time after getting injured in his match against Meridian.
“I am disappointed to lose Hensley to an illegal slam,” McKay said. “Especially since (his opponent) and Hensley have been wrestling against one another since they were little.”
Clare (0-1 JPC) wrestled against Houghton Lake in another JPC match on Wednesday and returns to the mats Jan. 23 in Gladwin.