The Clare and Farwell varsity wrestling teams competed at the division three individual regionals at Kingsley on Saturday, with Clare moving on all three of its competing wrestlers to the state finals and Farwell moving on one.
Clare’s state qualifiers are Dominik Herkel, Logan Emery and Brandon Ayris.
“Regionals is always an extremely nerve-racking day with so many good wrestlers and only four spots available to go to states any thing can happen,” Clare head coach Kyle McKay said. “Ayris and Emery have been here before so they are accustomed to the pressure but Herkel was making his debut at regionals and he came out wrestling great. There was nothing that was going to get between Herkel and his opportunity to become a state qualifier in his last year of wrestling for Clare.
Herkel (senior, 145, 25-14 record) began his day with a 3-1 decision in overtime over Boyne City’s Connor Mills. Herkel faced off against Johnny Finney of Bullock Creek next but fell in an 11-1 major decision.
Herkel survived the next round with a technical-fall over Michael Phipps of Grayling to clinch his spot in the top-four, but fell to Mills 6-3 in the third-place match in a rematch from earlier in the day.
Emery (junior, 160, 37-7 record) topped Negaunee’s Tyler Lajoie in the first round with a pin in the second period but fell to his second round opponent Wesley Asel of Garber in the semi-finals in an 8-4 decision.
Emery survived the next round with a 6-0 decision win over Brandon Gagnon of Gladstone to punch his ticket to the state finals, and finished his day with a win in the third-place match over Justin Steiger of Mason County Central with second period pin. This marks Emery’s second trip to the state finals.
Ayris (junior,171, 11-7 record) began his day with a 10-3 decision over Brian Lark of Kingsley and won his semi-final match over Eric Russell of Chippewa Hills with a 20-7 major decision to secure his second-straight state finals appearance.
In the championship match, Ayris faced off against Jake Cronick of Gladstone, but was pinned mid-way through the second period to settle for second place.
“I am really looking forward to seeing what these guys can do at (states),” McKay said. “We have a small group of supporters that have been following us all season and I am hoping with the prestige associated with being a state qualifier, that these boys can get their town behind them when they head down to wrestle.”
Farwell junior Tristen Zinkiewicz (37-12 record) was the lone state qualifier for the Eagles, coming in second place in the 160-pound class.
He began his day with a 9-3 decision win over Tyler Knudsen of Benzie Central and earned a 5-2 decision win over Justin Steiger of Mason County Central to move on to the finals.
In the finals, Zinkiewicz faced off against Wesley Asel of Garber, falling in a 3-0 decision.
“He wrestled well on the day but I felt he is capable of wrestling better,” Farwell head coach Ryan Cuningham said. “Tristen is healthy right now and has been wrestling well in practice. We are looking forward to to some good things happening for him at the state tournament.”
The individual wrestling finals are at the Palace of Auburn Hills Feb. 28 to March 2.