Any time there’s a BWAC wrestling meet, teams come ready to face some of the best competition in the state.
That was the case Friday night as Almont, North Branch, Richmond, and Yale met in the Broncos’ gym for the first league competition of the season. The Blue Devils and Bulldogs entered as the No. 4 and No. 8 teams in the state for Division 3, respectively.
After Richmond topped North Branch 58-21 and Yale defeated Almont 73-6, they met each other on the mat for a highly-anticipated match.
What’s more than facing another state-ranked opponent in a conference opener, the Blue Devils did so at the end of what head coach Brandon Day called a “unique week.”
“It’s been a unique week, we’ll just say that. It’s out of our control,” Day said. “I’m proud of the kids. I told them it would’ve been real easy to make excuses and not perform well – not even come tonight – but we did what we needed to do and I’m super proud of them.”
The Richmond school district was shut down last week after a threatening note was found, leaving students and teachers out of the classroom and the wrestlers out of their gym. Taken out of their rhythm and routine, the Blue Devils still managed to take down Yale, 42-22.
“It gives the kids a ton of confidence,” Day said. “If we get to actually practice in our own gym, that’ll be awesome.”
“I want to hand it to Richmond and their boys. With what they went through this week at school and the adversity they had to face…they really showed that they’re still the team to beat in the league and that was really impressive,” Yale head coach Rob Majcher said.
Majcher said the match came down to pins. Richmond won nine of the 14 matches on the night, five of them by pin, dramatically extending the team’s lead with each one.
“Their kids got the big pins and bigs wins when they needed them and our kids got some wins but weren’t able to get the pins when we needed them,” he said.
One of the biggest pins for the Blue Devils came from sophomore Jacob Fink (120-lbs). Yale was gaining momentum with back-to-back wins when Fink had to face last year’s state runner-up, sophomore Landon Sopha.
After a close battle, Fink finally pinned Sopha with 30 seconds remaining in the third period.
“It was exciting. I had some doubts because that kid was a state runner-up and I didn’t make it out of regionals last year, so that was a big upset for us. It really helped out the team,” Fink said.
Another notable win came from junior Conner Bergeon (138-lbs) who pinned his opponent within the first minute. The victory put the Blue Devils ahead 39-13, securing the team’s success with just three matches remaining.
Yale, however, did prove its own resilience in the next two matches as senior Alex McMillin (144-lbs) won by a narrow 6-5 decision after he picked up two points in the last minute, and junior Jeremy Griffith (150-lbs) pinned his opponent in the first period.
“Jeremy is our hammer, our go-to guy. He continues to be a great leader for our team,” Majcher said. “Knowing the outcome of the match was already in the bag for Richmond, it was nice to see him go out there and do what he needed to do, and we’re going to continue to need him to do that for us all year.”
“You just always have to be ready mentally. You can’t be scared to go out there and lose, you’ve got to go out there with your best effort,” Griffith said. “I just worked my moves and I know I can be better.”
The next BWAC quads will take place this Wednesay and Friday. Algonac, Armada, and Richmond will meet in Almont on Jan. 11, and while Yale will host Cros-Lex, Imlay City, and North Branch on Jan. 13.
“We’re only going to get better. We’ve got a bunch of young kids out there that are battling their butts off,” Day said. “We had great attendance over Christmas break. I think we practiced 20 times and a lot of young guys made that jump.”
Full BWAC scores from Friday:
Algonac def. Imlay City 51-15
Algonac def. Cros-Lex 51-13
Cros-Lex def. Armada 39-31
Imlay City def. Armada 44-28
North Branch def. Almont 72-12
Yale def. Almont 73-6
Ricmond def. North Branch 58-21
Richmond def. Yale 42-22
For in-game updates and other news, follow Calli on Twitter @ newberry_calli
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