Pine River enjoys quarterfinal win

MOUNT PLEASANT — Joe Rigling knew it was all up to him, and the 152-pound Pine River wrestler delivered.

Rigling, wresting a lower weight than his usual 160 pounds, had the 152-pound match on Friday in the Division 4 state wrestling quarterfinals against Decatur at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena. The Raiders had a 34-32 lead but Rigling, in a match that was 0-0 after two periods, got the takedowns and escapes he needed for a 4-2 victory, giving the Bucks a 35-34 win and their first ever trip to the state semifinal.

“It’s one of the best feelings in the world,” Rigling said. “We’ve never made it this far, as long as I’ve been in high school.”

The No. 7 seed Bucks (26-4) faced No. 3 seed Hudson (17-14) on Saturday, with the winner going to the title match later in the day. Hudson eliminated the Bucks from the tournament.

Pine River had a 32-22 lead when Tucker Fansler (135 pounds) got a major decision with a 9-0 win over Hayden Grissom. But Decatur got two straight pins for the 34-32 lead and it came down to the final weight class.

“I was scared out of my mind,” Rigling said. “I didn’t give up. I wrestled tough all the way through. We picked up a win where we didn’t expect.”

“We were right where we wanted to be,” Pine River coach Tim Jones said.

The match started at 160 but Pine River opted to go with Chris Rehkopf who was pinned in 0:47. Then the Bucks won three straight for a 16-7 lead. Raden Holmes (171) pinned Fritz Williamson in 2:48 and Bryan McCurry (189) pinned Everette Blonde in 1:07. Josh Jackson (215) earned a 15-4 major decision.

Andrew Frisbie (285) was pinned, but Dylan Stephens (103) got a fall at 3:32 for a 22-12 Pine River lead. Tyler Signor (112) and Andrew Park (119) dropped decisions but Jacob Roberts (125) rallied to pin Kohl Matlock in 3:35 for six critical Pine River points. Lucian Parish (130) got a major decision 13-1 over Pine River’s Nathan Park. Then Fansler gave Pine River its 32-22 lead, setting up the drama for the final three matches.

“In the middle weights, we ran into some tough kids,” Jones said. “We were hoping to win those and thought that might seal it. But we started adding it up and it came down to the last one.”

Rigling’s opponent was a state-ranked wrestler.

“I’m not counting this team out of anything,” Jones said. “We’ve done some things this year we didn’t think we would.”