Pine River wrestlers end season with loss to Hesperia

LEROY — It’s always been a formidable challenge for the Pine River Bucks to take down Hesperia in wrestling.

Wednesday night, the Bucks made some progress in their regional semifinal showdown against the No. 4-ranked Division 4 team in the state. But Hesperia still had too much firepower in posting a 42-25 victory over the host Bucks.

Pine River’s season ended at 25-3. Hesperia also beat Mio 76-0 in the title match to win the regional and improve to 26-3.

“We knew it would be a fight from the beginning,” said Pine River coach Tim Jones. “From what I saw, (his wrestlers) believed they could win. Swing matches we obviously didn’t win.”

The Panthers won the first three matches to get a key 13-0 lead. Pine River narrowed it to 23-9 after nine matches. But Hesperia went 19-0 in the next three matches to clinch the win.

Logan Eaves got the Panthers to a big 3-0 lead at 125 on a 7-2 win over Elliott VanDreumel. Zack Yates, an undefeated defending state champion, pinned Robert Ragatzki in 1:42 at 130 pounds and Trenton Roesly won 17-3 over Darwin Dean at 135 for a 13-0 lead.

“There were several key matches,” said Hesperia coach John Dingledine. “Some matches didn’t happen the way we thought.”

Justin Cole got the Bucks back in it with a dramatic pin in 56 seconds at 140 pounds over Kade Witte. Cole came out of nowhere to turn over Witte and put the Bucks on the board.

That seemed to fire up his team even when Ben Rigling lost on a pin in 51 seconds to Hesperia’s Chas Siersma at 145. The Bucks, trailing 19-6, would win three of the next four. Kyle Nixon edged David Jacobs 2-1 at 152 for the Bucks. Mark Workman at 160 notched a 10-2 win over Jeffrey Cross for a 23-9 lead. But Adam Langworthy won 9-1 over Colin Kleiner at 171 and Travis McCurry notched a pin at 189 in 2:40 to cut the lead to 23-19.

But Eldon Graham netted a win for Hesperia over Dominic Garcia at 215 pounds in 5:00. Josh Erke won 10-5 over Chase Morrison of Pine River at heavyweight and the Bucks’ 103-pounder Nate Park lost 17-2 to Cory Agens. A 37-19 lead to two matches left sealed the deal for Hesperia, which netted a 16-0 win at 112 over Jordan Stone.

“I thought we were in there the whole time,” Jones said. “I thought we had a real chance. We came to their toughest part of the lineup in the middle. They had a tough kid at 215 that swung the match wide open.”

Tony Moore for Pine River ended the match at 119 with a pin in 2:30 over Cameron Roesly.

“Definitely the heavyweight match was a key match,” Dingledine said. “They beat us Saturday in the blood round (of the individual districts). We came back and beat them there. Another key match at 189, we beat them and they turned around and beat us.”

The first match of the night “was a big one,” Dingledine said. “It was a momentum builder for both teams. They wrestled Saturday and we won by about the same score we won (Wednesday) by. We knew it would be close. Their kids battled hard and we knew ours would battle hard. That really set us strong. The first match is always a key matched to start out the momentum.”

“That was a big match for us,” Jones said. “That was one we thought we could win. We had a big win at 140 and a big win at 189. We got some of those big wins. We just didn’t get some of the little ones.”