WRESTLING: Oxford rallies past Grandville to reach Final Four for seventh time
BY DAN STICKRADT
BATTLE CREEK — Ben Line has learned a lot over the years from his older siblings.
With former Oxford standouts Zach Line and Prescott Line teaching little brother Ben the ropes, the current senior used the advice andcarved out his own highlight Friday afternoon at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
With his Oxford wrestling team clinging to a 26-23 advantage heading into the final weight class, the youngest Line pinned Grandville’s Eppe Saarenheimo to the mat in just 1:51 to seal the deal at 215.
The additional six points gave Oxford a 32-23, come-from-behind, victory over Grandville in the Division 1 state quarterfinals. The win propels the ninth-ranked Wildcats to the state semifinals for the seventh time in 16 years to face top-ranked and top-seeded Davison (23-4), which crippled Livonia Franklin (68-0) in another quarterfinal match Friday.
Hartland and defending champion Novi Detroit Catholic Central will face off in the other semifinals match, with Division 1 and Division 4 semifinals beginning at 9:30 a.m.
“My brothers have always reminded me that the opposition works just as hard, so you have to find a way to work a little harder,” said Line. “I’ve always listened to what they have to say. They have been here before.”
No pressure with the match on the line.
“I knew I had to win the match. It was great to turn around and look into the stands and seeing all of our fans celebrating and to have all of my teammates there to pat me on the back,” added Line. “We wanted to get back here this year. We had a little bit of a chip on our shoulders.”
Grandville led Oxford 23-15 with four matches to go, only to see the Wildcats storm back with a 17-0 run with four victories to close out the meet.
Zeb Throne (160) gutted out a 3-2 victory over Tyler Sisco, Wes Maskill (171) gained a four-point, 15-7 major decision triumph over Sam Greco, and Grant Krause (189) also added four points on the board to put Oxford up 26-23 with a 12-4 major decision over Quinn Connor.
“It finished up pretty close to the way we thought it would be,” offered Oxford coach Paul McDevitt. “When we scored it out on paper, we thought it could be 27-27. But we had a few places where we got some bonus points and a few others where we didn’t allow them to get bonus points even though they won a (particular weight class). That was the difference.”
Oxford has reached the state quarterfinals eight times since 1999 and this will be the seventh time the Wildcats have reached the semifinals, including 1999, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
“Last year we didn’t make it here,” reminded McDevitt, whose team lost to Rochester the district finals last season. “This year our goal was to make it to Battle Creek, try to win our match on the first day and get the chance to wrestle one of the best teams in the state in the semifinals. We now have that chance.”
OXFORD 32, GRANDVILLE 23
285: Zach Wood (O) p. Kasey Osterink 0:24; 103: Zach Wood (O) p. Kasey Osterink 0:24; 112: Alex Hrisopoulos (O) d. Josh Brower 7-4; 119: Keedan Hoezee (G) maj. dec. Garrett Tyrrell 16-5; 125: Collin Campbell (O) d.ec Boony Merryweather 6-5; 130: Mason Priest (G) maj. dec. Vinny Vackaro 13-4; 135: Collin Tomkins (G) p. Dustin Hurtado 1:36; 140: Eddie Schlickenmeyer (O) d. Kameron Bush 4-0; 145: Davon Rivera (G) d. Peter Economou 7-2; 152: Jake Brower (G) d. Noah Kinne 8-4; 160: Zeb Throne (O) d. Tyler Sisco 3-2; 171: Wes Maskill (O) maj. dec. Sam Greco 15-7; 189: Grant Krause (O) maj. dec. Quinn Connor 12-4; 215: Ben Line (O) p. Eppe Saarenheimo 1:51.
RECORDS: Oxford 25-4; Grandville 17-2.