Pine River nabs regional wrestling title

LEROY — Pine River’s wrestling team hasn’t been to Battle Creek for the team state finals in seven years.

But the Bucks made sure on Wednesday night they would be going this season.

Pine River defeated Traverse City St. Francis 68-12 and Rogers City 58-19 to clinch the school’s fourth ever regional title.

“They came out and didn’t let down, especially on St. Francis,” Pine River coach Tim Jones said. “If you come out there thinking you’re going to win it, you’re off your game. But they weren’t. They were ready to go regardless of who was on the mat.”

Pine River improved to 25-5 and will wrestle at Battle Creek at 1 p.m. Friday in the Division 4 state quarterfinals. Pine River, faces Manchester, seeded fourth.

“I have to tip my hat to Pine River,” Hurons coach Pat Land said. “They have a great squad. I think they have just as good a shot as anybody in the quarters. Tim always puts a quality team on the mat. This year, he has a lot of seniors. I think they’re ready to make some noise at Battle Creek.”

Rogers City won on a forfeit over Mio AuSable after school officials learned mid-afternoon, after the team had arrived in Pine River, that it had used an ineligible wrestler in the districts. The Bucks won 12-of-14 matches against St. Francis with Jake Roberts (112), Jordan Stone (119) Tony Moore (125), Robert Rogatzki (135), Travis Carlson (145), Tyler McCurry (189) and Chase Morrison (275) winning with pins. Other winners were Dillon Stevens (103), Andy Alberts (140), Joe Rigling (152), Jeff Gross (171) and Josh Jackson (215).

The win over Rogers City was almost as easy with Pine River rolling to a 46-0 advantage. When Tucker Fansler (130) pinned Andrew Huselhun in 1:04 for a 46-0 lead with only six matches remaining, the Bucks sealed the victory.

McCurry (189) and Jackson (215) won by voids for a 12-0 lead. The first actual match featured a pin by Morrison (285) over Lane Curtis in 37 seconds. Nate Park (103) defeated Sam Sobeck 10-0, Andrew Park (112) pinned Tommy Vogelheim in 3:40, Stone (119) pinned Tristan Baller in 2:14, Moore (125) won by pin in 2:37 and Fansler won by fall.

After Rogers City’s Justine Sale defeated Phil Ragatzki (135), Brady Long (140) pinned Max Kowlewsky in 2:52 for a 52-3 lead. After wins by Rogers City at 145, 152 and 160, Gross ended the night with a 1:29 pin over Juan Beltram.

“Rogers City, a perennial state team, is always a tough program,” Jones said. “Our kids came out ready to wrestle.”

Roger City ended its season at 22-11.

“Our 189-pounder got hurt earlier in the year and has been out since January,” Land said. “We only have 19 guys on our team. We lost our regular 140-pounder here last week in practice.”

In past years, Hesperia, not in the regional this season, was a roadblock in Pine River’s hopes of going to the state finals.

“You hate to say you wish the other team was here to get the monkey off your back, but this is a year our team was pretty strong,” Jones said. “We thought if we (faced) Hesperia, we’d kind of be able to do the same thing to them. It didn’t happen that way. So we’ll just take what we can get.”