David Kruse leads Lowell to state-record tying five consecutive title; Dundee defeats Richmond in the D3 final
(Photo Courtesy: MHSAA)
Kalamazoo – Lowell joined elite company on Saturday.
The Red Arrows became just the third school in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Team Wrestling format history to win five straight state championships with a 43-17 triumph over first-time finalist Gaylord in the Division 2 final at Wings Arena.
Lowell joins Hudson (D-4, 2009-2013) and Davison (D-1, 2002-2006) as programs that have reached the summit in five consecutive seasons.
“This is (an) amazing accomplishment. How in words do you describe winning five in a row,” said Lowell coach RJ Boudro. “It truly does take an entire community; the athletes, the coaches, the parents, the administrators and others around the community to be able to accomplish something like this.”
Dave Kruse, Lowell’s 189-pounder, echoed those sentiments. He was a four-year starter for the Red Arrows (20-4) and ended the match with a victory in his weight class.
“I’ve been here and won four and we’ve won five in a row,” said Kruse. “We have amazing expectations here and the seniors each year want to keep it going.”
Lowell, which has competed in the finals 14 times in the last 20 years with eight state titles, never trailed Gaylord (37-2). The Red Arrows led 13-0 to start, held a 13-12 advantage through seven matches before capturing five consecutive matches for a 34-12 lead to ice the title.
Lowell won 9-of-14 matches overall.
Gaylord has reached the quarters and semifinals several times over the years but made its grand entrance into the final match.
“We had a great run for a team from northern Michigan,” said Gaylord coach Jerry LaJoie. “We’re a Division 2 school in an area of Division 4 schools. Not a lot around Gaylord. We don’t have kids moving in all the time. We just work with what we got and do our best. That being said, I am super proud of the season we had getting to the finals. We won 37 matches.”
For the seventh time in nine seasons, both Dundee and Richmond have met in the Division 3 finals.
Perhaps none of them were as anticipated as this year’s face-off.
Richmond won last year on a tie-breaker after the two teams registered 28 points through 14 weight classes. Officials had to go eight-deep on the criteria chart to decide the winner.
This time, it was top-seeded Dundee that prevailed in the D-3 finals in a 40-15 victory over second-seeded Richmond.
Dundee captured its 10th crown. Richmond has captured seven titles with six runners-up trophies to boot, as the two have clearly become the most dominant Division 3 programs over the past 20 seasons in Division 3.
Richmond has participated in the finals 13 over a 22-year span.
“Ever since last year, we were very motivated,” said Dundee 215-pounder Brandon Whitman, an undefeated Mr. Wrestling candidate.
“There was no way we wanted to go through that again. We worked so hard togged back here and win it this time.”
Veteran Dundee coach Tim Roberts said that motivation was never a problem after last season’s gut-wrenching experience.
“The motivation started that day (we lost to Richmond),” said Roberts. “It was a work-in-progress from over the summer to the start of the season to all season long. We were fixing a wrong. That’s what we felt. What did we do wrong last season? And what can we do different this time to fix the wrong.
“I thought we did a great of staying focused all season long and we finished it off with the victory today,” continued Roberts. “We brought back a lot of very good kids, but so did they. We were blessed with some great freshmen that came in and helped us.”
Leading 24-15, Dundee closed with a 16-0 run to close out the match for the school’s fourth title in six years. The school also owns seven runner-up finishes dating back to the early 1990s.
Highlights of the Team Wrestling State Finals will be on STATE CHAMPS! High School Sports Show – Sunday, February 25th at 9:00am on Fox Sports Detroit