Grayling High School wrestling team earns fifth consecutive Lake Michigan Conference title with 5-0 league record, 1st place finish at LMC tournament
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
It was one of their goals at the beginning of the season: win a fifth consecutive Lake Michigan Conference title in wrestling. On Saturday, the Grayling Vikings accomplished the feat with a first place finish at the Lake Michigan Conference Championship Meet – an event hosted by Kalkaska High School this year – after posting a 5-0 record vs. league teams during the 2016-2017 regular season.
“That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?” Coach Andy Moore said. “The kids were excited about it. That was one of our goals: not lose any conference duals and win the tournament. We did both.”
Saturday’s LMC tournament featured five rounds of action with competitors from the six different schools in the conference that have wrestling: Grayling, Boyne City, Charlevoix, Traverse City St. Francis, Kalkaska, and Elk Rapids.
Out of 14 weight classes, the Vikings had five first place finishers: Andrew Hopkins (119), Max Halstead (125), Cole Hibbard (130), Reece Ferrigan (189), and Zach Kelly (heavyweight).
Hopkins did not have to wrestle in round one. In round two, he pinned a Kalkaska opponent in the first round. Hopkins scored a first round pin vs. his Elk Rapids counterpart in the next round. In his final bout of the day, Hopkins won by pin vs. Charlevoix.
Halstead, a freshman, pinned his first opponent – a wrestler from Elk Rapids – in the first round. In round three of the tournament, Halstead pinned a Charlevoix opponent in the first period. It was his last match of the day.
Hibbard had to wrestle in four of the tournament’s five rounds. He started his day with a 10-5 victory vs. Traverse City St. Francis. Next, he won a 13-6 decision vs. Kalkaska. In round three, Hibbard pinned a Boyne City opponent in the third round of the bout. He did not have an opponent in the fourth round. In round five, Hibbard won a 3-2 decision vs. Charlevoix.
Ferrigan pinned a Charlevoix opponent in the first round during a round one match on Saturday. In round two, he scored a first round pin vs. Kalkaska. In round three, he won a 17-1 tech fall vs. Grayling teammate Justin Bodkins. Next, Ferrigan won by pin in the first round vs. Boyne City. He won by pin in the first round vs. Charlevoix in round five of the tournament, finishing the day at 5-0.
Kelly, at heavyweight, started his tournament run with a win by pin vs. Boyne City. Kelly pinned his round two foe – a Traverse City St. Francis opponent – in the second period. In round three, Kelly won by pin in the first round vs. Elk Rapids. He pinned his Kalkaska counterpart in the first round to end the day at 4-0.
“Hopkins is a three-time (conference) champ,” Coach Moore said. “I’m really happy for Zach Kelly. He’s been so close the last two years to winning it. Cole Hibbard, he had a tough weight class. He wrestled really good on his feet.”
Other Grayling wrestlers also won matches and earned team points for Grayling on Saturday at the Lake Michigan Conference Championship Meet.
Logan Joseph (160) won a 4-0 decision vs. Charlevoix in round two of the tournament. Joseph won a 14-3 decision vs. Elk Rapids. In round five, Joseph won by pin vs. Traverse City Francis. His only loss of the day was a 12-9 decision vs. Boyne City in round three.
Tyler Withers (215) also had three victories for Grayling. He won by pin vs. Charlevoix, defeated a Boyne City opponent 5-3 in overtime, and ended the day with a 10-3 win vs Elk Rapids.
Parker Dole and Eli Bindschatel each had one win for the Vikings on Saturday. Dole pinned a Charlevoix opponent in the first period in round two of the event. Bindschatel won a 13-7 decision vs. Kalkaska in round two.
The scores between the top two teams on Saturday – Grayling and Charlevoix – were close throughout the tournament, and the Vikings trailed the Rayders in points going into round five. In the final round of matches, Grayling won all four of its bouts. The series included two wins vs. Charlevoix (Hibbard and Ferrigan), one victory vs. St. Francis (Joseph), and one victory against Elk Rapids (Withers). The Rayders did not win any of their round five matches.
Grayling won the tournament with 139 team points. Charlevoix took second place at 113.
Coach Moore said his team came into the tournament expecting to win it, and followed through on the mats.
“I thought we did what we wanted to do: win the tournament,” Coach Moore said.
Overall, the final Lake Michigan Conference standings were: Grayling, 1st; Charlevoix, 2nd; Kalkaska, 3rd; Boyne City, 4th; Traverse City St. Francis, 5th; Elk Rapids, 6th.
The Vikings will compete in team districts at Boyne City at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8. On Saturday, Feb. 11, Grayling High School will host individual districts at 9 a.m.