Individual wrestling championships have many winners, in all sizes and weight classes
Auburn Hills – For Kyle Barkovich, Saturday was it.
There would be no more opportunities to win a state championship.
The Lawton High senior not only pulled it off and lived out his dream of being a state champion wrestler, but he did so at the Palace in dramatic fashion.
Trailing Hesperia’s Gerrit Yates 11-6 in the third period in his Division 4, 135-pound state championship match, Barkovich flipped over his opponent and recorded a pin in 5:18 to win his final high school match.
Needless to say, Barkovich was pointing towards the crowd in complete jubilation immediately following his come-from-behind victory.
“Unbelievable,” Barkovich said. “This was what I dreamed about.
Barkovich, a four-time state finals placer who finishes his senior year with a 59-2 record, finally reached the top rung on the medals podium.
“That was my goal ever since last year,” said Barkovich. “I knew that this would be it and I didn’t want to lose my last match. I gave it everything that I had and once I had him I kept squeezing harder and harder until I got the pin.”
Barkovich placed sixth as a freshmen, fourth as a sophomore and second as a junior, where he posted a 50-3 record but lost to Jonesville’s Carter Ballinger, 5-3, in overtime in the 130-pound final.
“I have trained so hard, went on a really tough training program after last season,” said Barkovich, who also competes in football, track and field and baseball, and will graduated with 10 varsity letters. “I did not want to walk off this mat the last time with a loss and never winning a state championship.”
Whitmore-Prescott’s Ryan Prescott does not allow his opponents much breathing room.
Check that, no breathing room.
The senior three-sport athlete ended his wrestling career with another win Saturday in the Division 4, 285-pound finals. It ended with a 9-0 defeat of New Lothrop’s David Robertson.
Prescott finishes the year with a perfect 31-0 record and 30 pins — and did not allow any of his opponents to score points on him.
Michigan High School Athletic Association officials are researching to see if that has ever happened before in the nation for a high school wrestler —holding the opposition scoreless for an entire season.
“I didn’t want to give up any points, said Prescott. “Last year I let a couple of guys off the hook. I gave up around 12 points. There was no way I was going to let them off the hook this year.”
Closing out with 151 wins, Prescott exits as a four-time state placer, finishing second as a freshman while winning state titles as a sophomore, junior and senior.
The all-state lineman and a state placer in the shot put and discus on the Cardinals track and field team, said he has received tremendous support from his family, coaching staff and the communities that comprise Whitmore-Prescott.
He will not take any time off, either, getting right back into the mold Monday for track practice and try to earn some state golf in that sport as well.
“I will celebrate Sunday with my family, but I won’t take any time off. I will head to track practice Monday and try to have a great season there, maybe win a state championship.”
TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL SUPREMACY
Brighton’s Nicholas Brish, who competes at 171, has enjoyed a four-month run that few ever get a chance to enjoy.
Brish helped Brighton not only hold down the No. 1 ranking in the Division 1 team polls all season, but helped the Bulldogs claim a team state championship last weekend in Battle Creek — the school’s first in the sport.
As an individual, he posted a fine 48-2 record this season and ended his prep career with a 5-2 decision over Rochester Hills Stoney Creek’s Andrew Price at Saturday finals.
“It’s been an incredible journey this year,” said Brish, a three-time state placer. “This is what we dreamed of as a team. And now winning an individual title as a senior, what else could you ask for.”
JOIN THE CLUB
Davison’s Lincoln Olson became the 20th wrestler in state tournament history to become a four-time state champion and about an hour later Richmond’s Devin Skatzka followed suit and accomplished the same rare feat to join the exclusive club.
Skatzka blanked Ida’s Alex Phillips 15-0 at the 3:52 mark to put the finishing touches on the four-peat and a 193-win prep career.
“You come into high school with dreams of being successful and maybe winning a state championship,” said Skatzka. “But to win four and be part of that (group) pretty amazing.
“This was a dream of mine,” continued Skatzka. “I remember watching Brent Metcalf and Adam Coon and all those guys win their fourth — it’s just a dream. To get to enjoy that with my dad in my corner, it’s pretty awesome.”
Skatzka, who also plays football and baseball, will wrestle for Indiana University next year. He previously won individual titles at 135, 145 and 152 and was part of the Blue Devils program that won team state titles in wrestling in 2012 and 2015 as well as state runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2014. Combined, that’s six state titles and two runners-up — again a feat few can possibly fathom.
“You can’t make this up,” he smiled. “I don’t think it has completely settled in yet.”