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D4 WRESTLING: Clinton trusts the process to claim first crown, taking down powerful New Lothrop and Hudson

By: DAN STICKRADT, February 29, 2020, 10:46 pm

KALAMAZOO — Hold up, there’s a new sheriff in town.

Clinton joined the exclusive club of state title teams in Division 4 — a division long-since dominated by the likes of New Lothrop and Hudson.

In fact, the third-seeded Redskins had to defeat the top two seeds and storied programs en route to their first state crown.

After defeating second-seeded New Lothrop Saturday morning in the state semifinals (32-26), Clinton rallied back from an 18-0 deficit after four weight classes with a 36-3 run. The Redskins won nine of the final 10 bouts to record their 36-27 triumph over Hudson in the Division 4 state finals at Wings Arena.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Clinton co-coach Jeff Roland. “I was told to trust the process. You know five years ago we lost in the regional finals, then the next year in the quarterfinals. We’ve lost in the semifinals and (state) finals before (2019), but we’re never able to win it all.

“To come here and beat perhaps one of the most successful programs in state history in New Lothrop in the semifinals and to come back and beat the defending champs (Hudson) in the finals after being down big says a lot about the guys on this team. They wanted this more than anything and never gave up.”

Clinton lost to Hudson 45-19 in last year’s title match in first-ever appearance in the MHSAA finals.

“This is amazing. You couldn’t have scripted this any better,” said 145-pounder Kent McCombs, who won his match by technical fall. “To beat New Lothrop and Hudson and coming back down 18-0 (against Hudson) is incredible. Even when we were down by all that much, I had faith in my teammates that we could come back on them.”

Hudson has emerged as one of Michigan’s great programs but came up short after its early lead. Hudson’s CJ Berro (135) recorded a pin to give the Tigers the 18-0 advantage, but his team did not win again until the last weight class when the meet was already decided.

“I don’t want to take anything away from my team at wihats off to Clinton. I do not want to take away anything away from them. We both wrestled tough. They just wrestled better than we did.”

Hudson slipped to 8-4 in state title matches — all within the past 12 years. The Tigers (28-7) have competed in 12 straight state title matches — the longest active streak in the state.

———

CLINTON 36, HUDSON 27

119: Tyler Bolenbaugh (H) d. Zak Shadley 5-1; 125: Jackson Miller (H) p. Brian Baker 1:34; 130: Caden Natale (H) d. Landis Gillman 5-4; 135: CJ Berro (H) p. George Ames 1:05; 140: AJ Baxter (C) tech. fall Aden Barrett 20-4; 145: Kent McCombs (C) tech. fall Calix Campbell 15-0; 152: Dylan Smith (H) d. Spencer Konz 3-2; 160: Noah DeShano (C) d. Logan Sallows 5-3; 171: Brayden Randolph (C) tech. fall Cameron Underwood 24-9; 189: Logan Badge (C) p. Ethan Harris 1:54; 215: Jack Voll (C) p. Kyle Moll 0:31; 285: Will Felts (C) d. Seth Musgrave 1-0; 103: Connor Busz (C) d. Dallas Pibbles 4-2; 112: Bronson Marry (H) p. Chase Packard 1:19

RECORDS — Clinton 31-5; Hudson 28-7