The final BWAC duals took place Friday night, all but deciding this year’s conference champion. Algonac is the only team left unbeaten at 7-0 after topping Richmond 35-28 in an exciting matchup. The overall champion will be decided later at the BWAC tournament.
“There were some battles out there and I thought both sides wrestled hard,” Muskrats head coach Brian Ranger said. “Obviously I’m thrilled to get the victory, but the one in a couple weeks would mean a lot more.”
Ranger said the key to the Algonac’s success was trust within the team, highlighting a few key matches early on that sparked confidence in the rest of the lineup.
It started with Mark Romanowski (157-lbs) who won by a 7-3 decision, followed by Connor Hadden (165-lbs) with another three points. Josh Kasner (175-lbs) then picked up the first pin, giving Algonac a 12-0 lead.
“Mark, he’s tough and he doesn’t get mentioned a lot. He’s been wrestling really well for us and he came out and got a nice win,” Ranger saiad. “And then Connor, he wrestles our two toughest guys in practice every day…so he’s been getting a lot better and came right out with a win too, so that was big from two guys who don’t always get as much credit.”
Algonac would void at 190-lbs and Richmond’s Brady St. John (215-lbs) and Matthew Misch (285-lbs) would each pick up a win, putting the Blue Devils ahead 13-12 through six matches.
Sky Langewicz (106-lbs) gave the Muskrats back a lead with an 11-2 major decision, and Chris Campbell (113-lbs) picked up Algonac’s second pin of the night to extend it.
From there, the Muskrats led 22-13 and never looked back, although the Blue Devils kept it close.
Richmond’s Noah Harris (120-lbs) would pin Emmanuel Lenkiewicz, but Algonac’s Lucky Gartin (126-lbs) pinned Jacob Fink. Steven Shannon extended the lead further after a 5-3 decision over Brian Nichol, but the Richmond’s Conner Bergeon kept his team in the fight with a 3-0 decision. It was 31-22 with two matches to go.
“We just need one win, so it was nice to have David Clemons, one of our captains go out there,” Ranger said.
Clemons won by an 11-3 major decision at 144-lbs, putting victory out of sight for Richmond. The Muskrats would void the final match at 150-lbs.
Ranger said his athletes won’t be enjoying the victory for very long, knowing the task in front of them this weekend at the BWAC tournament. They’ll need to place third or higher in order to secure the overall title, and after that, they’ll turn their focus to districts.
“I’m going to try to not let them get too big headed about this because we’ve stil got a lot of wrestling and good teams down the road,” Ranger said. “We’ve just got to make sure we keep working hard and trusting each other.”
Adding to Friday night’s excitement, Croswell-Lexington pulled off a 37-33 victory over No. 8 in the state Yale. Cros-Lex hasn’t been mentioned in the rankings and was 3-3 in league competition heading into the match.
“I didn’t know if we were going to win or lose, I really didn’t know,” Cros-Lex junior Joey Scaramuzzino said. “We’ve figured out our weight classes and the practice tempo has improved. The team is very young, only one senior, so everyone just needed to learn to believe in us.”
Belief was built early on in the dual after the Pioneers secured four pins in the first five matches, taking a 24-6 lead. But as Scaramuzzino (who had a pin at 215-lbs) said, that wouldn’t be enough to secure a victory.
Yale’s Grady Francek halted the Cros-Lex momentum with a pin at 106-lbs, and from there it would be a matter of hard-fought wins that would add up to much-needed points for the Pioneers, starting with Braylon Davis at 113. He picked up three points with a 6-2 decision over Landon Sopha.
“[The momentum] was kind of up and down,” Davis said. [The win] helped us get up again.”
Yale’s Kersten McClelland (120-lbs) pinned Isaiah Solis, narrowing the deficit to 27-18. That’s when Miles Levitt (126-lbs) and William Herman (132-lbs) each picked up narrow decisions for the Pioneers, putting them ahead at 33-18.
James Gumtow (138-lbs) was up next, and he extended his team’s lead even further with a 13-5 major decision and secured the victory for his team as only three matches remained.
“Herman had a really good match, he battled and scored two with like five seconds left. Gumtow had a really good match too,” Scaramuzzino said. “It was a battle. It was a rivalry and really fun.”
The win has come at just the right time for the Pioneers as they gear up for the district tournament.
“After the first dual we didn’t know how this season was going to go, but now we all think we can do well in districts,” Davis said.
Algonac finishes the regular season duals at 7-0, Richmond 6-1, and Cros-Lex, Imlay City, and Yale are all 4-3.
Imlay City defeated North Branch (1-6) Friday night 60-20 and celebrated junior Dominic D’Ambrosio’s (132-lbs) 100th career win en route to victory as he pinned his opponent within 15 seconds.
Armada (2-5) and Almont (0-7) also wrestled on Thursday as the Tigers defeated the Raiders 66-6.
The final BWAC tournament is scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 4, in Richmond.
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