By Ben Murphy
Fresh off its first ever district title, the Farwell wrestling team had hoped for continued success in the division three regional at Clare on Wednesday night. Instead, the Eagles suffered a 57-22 semi-final loss to Howard City Tri-County, ending Farwell’s season.
“We just have some holes to fill,” Farwell head coach Tyler Lentovich said. “This was our first stepping stone. We were 9-14 on the year so we’re just not a full team yet.”
Wrestling began in the 160 weight class, but Farwell’s wrestler was quickly pinned to put Tri-County up 6-0.
In 171, Farwell’s Tristen Zienkiewz pinned his opponent in the first period to tie the match up at 6-6, but from there the Eagles struggled.
Tri-County won the next four matches, two of which by voids to lead 30-6.
Glenn Beardsley stopped the bleeding momentarily in 112 by winning a 16-8 major decision to bring the score to 30-10 and in 119, an unidentified Farwell wrestler picked up a second period pin to make it 30-16.
Tri-County picked up three straight wins however, two of which by void to clinch the match up, 57-16.
Farwell ended the night on a high note, getting Garrett Mequiston a second period pin in 152.
“We’ve got five or six, sometimes seven, depending on who shows up solid kids,” Lentovich said. “It was a good year for us. The majority of them won a lot and a lot of them are young.”
Chippewa Hills beat Tri-County 37-24 to claim the regional championship.
The Eagles reached the regional semi-finals, by winning the Gladwin district on Feb. 5. The Eagles began the day by topping Clare 47-36 and narrowly edged out Gladwin 39-36 for the team’s first ever district championship and the first boys’ district title of any kind for the school since basketball in 1991.
“We wrestled pretty well,” Lentovich said. “We’ve got between five-to-seven guys that can be counted on and a couple of them can be counted on almost every time for a win. The rest of the win goes to the volunteer wrestlers who came out to help us fill the lineup for the night. We’d been anticipating trying to win the district since the beginning of the season and had been begging kids to practice for one week and wrestle for one night so we could make a run at it.”
The Eagles managed to find five wrestlers to come in and help.
“Fortunately we got some help from athletes in other programs and we were able to pull off a narrow victory utilizing their numbers combined with our studs,” Lentovich said. “It’s really just a building block for our program as we wanted to win it to try and boost numbers and gain financial support for the coming years when we have some talent coming up.”
The Pioneers however, had a different take on the night.
“It was going to be a really close head-to-head match because we were both voiding the same weight classes,” Clare head coach Kyle McKay said. “On the last day of Alphas, Farwell went and found five kids that have not wrestled at all this season… These individuals were able to walk onto the mat and take a void against us, giving Farwell the win… Overall, we had a level playing field with Farwell before they brought in these wrestlers. I was very disappointed that this was how we lost, especially when we wrestled them four days earlier in at the Jack Pine Conference championships none of these wrestlers were on their roster then.
“Two of the kids were unfamiliar with how to put a singlet or headgear on,” McKay added. “Very frustrating and very heartbreaking for my team because they worked really hard and really wanted this district title. I am saddened that we are done as a team this year but nothing we can do about it now, we gave it our all and everyone on our team was here since day one of practice and for that I am proud of them.”
Farwell and Clare also competed at individual districts on Saturday at Chippewa Hills.
The Eagles had Glenn Beardsley (112) come in first, and according to Lentovich is the first individual district champion at the school in recent history, if not the first. Tristen Zienkiewicz took second in 160 and Nate Carlon took fourth in 189 to round out regional qualify Eagle wrestlers.
The Pioneers had two champions, Brandon Ayris at 171 and Brenden Hensley at 215. Logan Emery also moved on with a third place finish, as did Bob Green (285) and Michael Evers (125) with fourth place finishes.
“I am very excited for the boys that made it to the regional tournament,” McKay said. “I am looking forward to their attempt at making it to the individual state finals. Ayris and Emery are making an attempt at their third trip to the (state finals) and I am hoping that they can finish high. Hensley has had an outstanding season at 215 and I am looking forward to seeing what happens when he runs into some stiffer competition at regionals. Green and Evers showed a lot of heart coming back and winning their matches in the blood round (win or go home). It is going to take even more heart for them to wrestle through for a spot as a state qualifier.”
Farwell and Clare compete in Kingsley in individual regionals on Saturday. The top four in each weight class move on to the division three individual state finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills Feb. 27-March 1.