By Ben Murphy
A year after coming in sixth place at the individual wrestling state finals, Farwell senior Tristen Zienkiewicz capped off his high school career with a story book ending- As division three’s state champion in the 160 weight class.
Zienkiewicz (49-2), who is the first wrestling champion in Farwell school history, began his championship quest on Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Palace of Auburn Hills by topping Cody Proudfoot of Perry in a 14-4 major decision.
In the quarterfinals he topped Forrest Courtright of Shelby with a third period pin and in the semi-finals he won with a 5-2 decision over Carson Whaley of Lake Fenton.
Zienkiewicz had to come from behind late to top Jared Elliott in the championship, winning 4-3.
Zienkiewicz trailed 2-0 entering the second period but with four seconds left in the session, scored a reversal to tie the match at 2-2 entering the third.
Then, in the third Zienkiewicz allowed Elliott to escape to give Elliott a 3-2 with about 1:25 left in the match, and after a couple close calls Zienkiewicz took down Elliott with about eight seconds left. From there, Zienkiewicz held Elliott down to hang on for the 4-3 win.
“I just kept going 110 percent and gave everything I had for every second,” Zienkiewicz, who finishes his career with over 170 wins said. “He was definitely a tough opponent, I feel like I just wanted it a bit more.”
The senior wrestler felt that his sixth place finish at the state finals the year before and his coach, Tyler Lentovich had a lot to do with his run to become a state champion this year.
“Last year’s experience definitely helped me and having my teammate (Glenn Beardsley) there too helped too,” Zienkiewicz said. “We both kind of kept each other in check and kept our eyes on the prize and I have great coaches that helped me stay focused too. I want to say a big thanks to coach Lentovich, he’s a great guy and he’s definitely helped me a lot through my career.
Beardsley (49-5), a freshman also had a strong showing at the state finals, coming in third place in the 112 weight class.
“It felt good,” he said of finishing third. “It was a great experience. I’ve been to a lot of big tournaments before and those kind of prepared me for this. I definitely want to have a state title by my senior year.”
Beardsley began his run with a 13-0 major decision win over Domenic Ciucci of Grand Rapids Central and beat Capac’s Joey Nemecek 8-3 in the quarterfinals.
He suffered his first setback in the semi-finals though, falling to Swan Valley’s KJ Suitor in a close 2-1 decision but followed that up with a 4-1 decision win over Kenny Reinhart of Dundee in the consolation semi-finals and won the third place match in a 2-1 decision over Arthur Payne of Montrose.
“We couldn’t be prouder as a community, school and coaching staff,” Lentovich said of Zienkiewicz and Beardsley. “Those two have developed into fine young men who posses not only the physical abilities of a champion but more importantly the intangible qualities like dedication, composure, humility and mental toughness. They’re the finest examples of what our wrestling program can do for people… We’re hoping that in a few years our Farwell wrestling will continue to grow into a program where high all-state finishes are the norm, strong team success is consistent and many people are excited to be a part of the wrestling opportunities Farwell has to offer.”