Hartland defeats Davison, captures first state title
Mount Pleasant – It took a decade and a half, now Hartland coach Todd Cheney finally knows what it is to be a champion.
Running one of the gold standard wrestling programs in the state, Cheney has seen his Eagles advance to 15 straight Team Wrestling Finals, make it to 12 semifinals and finish runner-up five times, including a heart-breaking loss to Brighton in the finals last year.
This year the Eagles are champions, beating Davison, 36-23, for the Division 1 title Saturday at Central Michigan’s McGuirk Arena.
"I always tell the kids, ‘Win with class and lose with class’," Cheney said. "This year I don’t have to say that word (lose)."
You could see the relief in Cheney’s face after sophomore 119-pounder Carter Hankins loss by decision to Davison returning state champion A. J. Facundo secured that elusive state championship trophy.
After that match, as his wrestlers were celebrating and high-fiving each other, Cheney sat at his chair and wiped tears from his face.
"That was special," Cheney said.
It was special to the kids, too.
Senior 152-pounder Sage Castillo acknowledged that his team would not be denied this time around. Enough with second place and just being at the finals.
"Words can not describe this, it’s an amazing feeling," said Castillo, who improved to 52-0 with three weekend wins. "We believed this year. We actually believed that we could do it this year. We left no doubt,and when you leave no doubt, success will come."
The Eagles left no doubt early. Starting at the 135-pound weight class, Hartland raced out to a 21-3 lead thanks to a decision by Reece Hughes at 140 and pins by Castillo at 145, Logan Vish at 152 and Luca LaForge at 160.
Other Eagles to get wins were Andrew Spisz at 189, Brandon Krol at heavyweight, Kyle Kantola at 103 and Garnet Potter at 130.
Davison made a run at the Eagles in the lower weights, but it was not enough.
Davison coach Roy Hall was not making any excuses. He admitted losing to a focused and better team today.
The Cardinals advanced to the finals with a hard-fought win over Detroit Catholic Central in the semifinals, 29-25, Saturday morning.
"That (against Catholic Central) was a great match, but you have to beat a lot of quality teams here," Hall said. "And Hartland is a very good team and was very determined this year to finally get that win."
Hartland advanced the finals with a relatively easy 42-19 win over Oxford in their semifinal match.