MASON – The DeWitt wrestling team is headed to the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history.
The Panthers punched their ticket to the final round of the team state tournament with a 48-17 victory over CAAC Red rival Mason in a Division 2 regional final Wednesday night at Mason High School.
DeWitt, ranked No. 7 in Division 2 in the final Michigan Grappler team state rankings, avenged an earlier loss to the No. 10-ranked Bulldogs.
“The guys felt like they left something behind when we lost [to Mason].” DeWitt coach Brian Byars said, “We were hoping for the chance to see Mason so we would get the chance to get it back.”
The finals started with JD Greathouse grabbing a win for Mason with a pin. However, the Panthers went on to win the next four matches and never looked back.
Mason battled back and brought the match to within eight points, but a late-round pin by sophomore Ronnie Slater helped clinch the regional title with three matches left.
Slater recorded two pins on the night and avenged his regular-season losses to Mason’s Seth Bunting. Bunting had previously defeated Slater two times, both by fall.
“I wanted to make a statement and it was really time to kick it into gear.” Slater said, “I went out there thinking I was going to win and with that mindset, I knew I could do it.”
DeWitt swept the remaining weight classes to close out the 48-17 victory in the title match.
“Our mantra for the last week has been ‘Let’s make history,'” Byars said. “We are the first time at DeWitt. This team is so willing to sacrifice and do whatever they have to do to get to the next level.”
The Panthers cruised to a quarterfinal victory over Eastern by the score of 74-3, while Mason and No. 8-ranked Eaton Rapids battled it out until the final match.
Mason fought back from being down 21-4 by winning five straight matches to advance to the final. Tanner Miller sealed the win with a victory by decision over Hayden Campbell in a match that was decided with 19 seconds left. That match gave the Bulldogs the 34-29 win.