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Hartland making yet another bid at first state title

By: Jeff Chaney, February 26, 2016, 5:38 pm



Mount Pleasant – Just making it to the Wrestling Team finals isn’t good enough for coach Todd Cheney and his Hartland wrestling team.

Bringing home a Division 1 state championship is all the Eagles want this year.

That’s because Hartland’s wrestling program is no stranger to the finals and qualified for its 15th straight finals this weekend at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena.

And in that stretch, the Eagles have made it to 12 semifinals and five state title matches only to finish runner-up each time.

But this year could be that year when Hartland brings home that elusive title.

The Eagles come into this weekend’s finals as the top seed and hammered that point home Friday during quarterfinal action, defeating perennial power Temperance Bedford 53-24.

Hartland advances to Saturday’s semifinals, where the Eagles will take on Oxford, a 40-28 winner over Hudsonville.

"We are tired of just getting here and placing second," Cheney said. "We cut some guys down in weights, with thinking that will help us achieve our goal. Today’s match was a good start to that."

The match against the Kicking Mules didn’t start well for Hartland as Bedford raced out to a 12-3 lead.

It was at 285-pound weight division where the match turned around for Hartland. Heavyweight Brandon Krol beat Tim Stevens in overtime, 4-2.  It was a battle of two state qualifiers.

That started a streak of nine straight wins by the Eagles, with most of those wins coming with bonus points.

"That win at heavyweight got us on a good roll," Cheney said. "Brandon loss to Stevens in the first round at state last year, so that was a big win for him." 

Undefeated senior Sage Castillo (152) ended the streak of nine straight Hartland wins with a pin of Ian Tyburski in one minute, 14 seconds.

Like his coach, Castillo is sick of just making it to the finals.

"I am sick and tired of coming in second and in the top four," said Castillo, whose team was second to champion Brighton last year. "There is no doubt in my mind that we can win this this year. We have put in way too much hard work not to win a state title this year. We want to come here and finish the job this year."

Only time will tell as the semifinals begin Saturday 10 a.m. The championship matches in each division start at 3:30 p.m.

In the other Division 1 quarterfinals, Davison beat Grand Ledge 37-18 and Detroit Catholic Central beat Macomb Dakota 36-16.