Blue Devils, Muskrats to rematch on the mats this Friday
It might not be in February and it might not be in Kalamazoo, but Friday’s dual meet between the Algonac and Richmond wrestling teams is bound to feel like a state championship.
“It’s going to be an awesome environment that prepares us for later in the year,” Blue Devils head coach Brandon Day said.
In the latest Division 3 state rankings, Algonac remains third and Richmond follows in fifth.
Both are currently 6-0 in the BWAC. Both are returning a lot of talent. And there's no doubt both will be bringing their best.
“My kids are pretty confident no matter the situation, but at the same time, last year’s last year. We’re not living off last year,” Algonac head coach Brian Ranger said. “We’ll take a little bit of confidence from it, but it’s a brand new year and a brand new dual meet. It’s 0-0.”
Algonac defeated Richmond when the two teams met last year, handing the Blue Devils their first league dual loss in years. They recovered to win the BWAC tournament, however, keeping their conference win streak intact since 2004.
The Muskrats are 28-1 on the season so far, losing only to Macomb Dakota, a top-five Divison 1 team. Richmond’s record, on the other hand, wouldn’t cast votes for a state ranking, but they’ve faced upper-division powerhouses like Detroit Catholic Central, Lowell, Rockford, and many others.
“I don’t know if we even have a winning record,” Day said. “The physical training is a big part, but it’s the mental training…and telling the kids, ‘Hey, I promise ya, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep moving forward.’”
All told, records and rankings won’t mean much when these two teams hit the mat tomorrow night.
Richmond returns all-state athletes like seniors Eddie Olson (190-lbs) and Noah Harris (126-lbs) to lead the way, along with several underclassmen who are showing great improvement, according to Day.
“We’re real sophomore and junior heavy this year...Every day we’re getting better," Day said. “So far we’ve got great improvement from guys like Brady St. John (215-lbs), Jack Akans (175-lbs), Gavin Frick (157-lbs), and Brian Nichol (132-lbs). Those guys have put a ton of time in and been really consistent and coachable.”
As for the Muskrats, they bring in all-state sophomore Chris Campbell (120-lbs) and juniors Josh Kasner (190-lbs) and David Clemons (144-lbs). The Muskrats also have girls division state champion Sky Langewicz, who will fill a key spot at 106-lbs.
“We’re more balanced than we’ve been in the past,” Ranger said. “I feel like we’re fairly strong across all weight classes, but that’s how Richmond has always been. I think that makes for an exciting dual meet because every one of their kids who goes out there is tough and hard to score points on and pin, so that’s what we’re trying to get over here too.”
And as exciting as Friday will be, the final conference champion will be decided next Saturday, Feb. 4 at the BWAC tournament.
From there, should both teams advance out of their respective district tournaments, they could battle once more in the regional for the chance to keep their seasons alive and represent the area at the MHSAA State Finals, which will be the main focus.
"If we want to get back to the team State Finals, we’ve got to wrestle Yale and Algonac and possibly Imlay City again, so our goal is to peak at that time,” Day said. “But we’re definitely looking forward to a good match Friday.”
“Richmond has been the best in the area, if not the whole state for a long time, so we’re excited to see where we stack up against those guys,” Ranger said. “We want to go out there and do the best we can, but ultimately it’s just a part of the process to get ready for the end of the season.”
Friday’s dual is set for 5:30 p.m. in Richmond.
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