Four historically strong area wrestling programs got a tournament tuneup with double duals on Wednesday night. Only Fowlerville walked away unscathed.
After defeating CAAC Red opponent DeWitt and nonleague Mason, Fowlerville coach Dan Coon said the meet was a something his team can learn from.
“We still have a lot of things work on,” Coon said. “It doesn’t matter win or lose, we have to get better.”
Fowlerville’s drive comes with lofty goals. After defeating St. Johns earlier in the year, Fowlerville is in a position to win the conference, something the Redwings had a firm grasp on recently. By defeating DeWitt 49-22, they were able to keep that lead.
“After beating St. Johns, every CAAC match is important. It’s not very often you get to beat the No. 1 team, then you just have to hang on,” Coon said.
After defeating DeWitt, Fowlerville took on a Mason team that it lost to in the regional tournament last season, and defeated the Bulldogs, 57-15.
“Our team did really well tonight,” senior 189-pounder Brandon Ellsworth said. “Mason has always been our rival and they kicked us out of the regional the last two years, so it felt great to win that one.”
Fowlerville had seven pins in its match against the Bulldogs, including one by Ellsworth, who also pinned his DeWitt opponent.
Mason was down 33-11 against Eaton Rapids with five weight classes to go before scoring three pins, a technical fall and a forfeit victory to grab a 37-33 victory. It took Austin Droscha just 16 seconds to pin his 171-pound opponent, Mike Phillips, to complete the comeback.
“The team just decided, right now, we’re not going to let this get away from us. We’re going to go out there and take control of this dual,” Droscha said. “With my teammates getting their wins in front of me like they needed, it just gave me more adrenaline to go out there and finish it off.”
Bulldogs Coach Brian Martel wasn’t surprised with his team’s victory.
“We knew we were going to finish strong because that’s the stretch of our lineup we really rely on,” Martel said. “I think there was still a lot of confidence on the team knowing who we had left.”
When the Bulldogs fell behind 27-0 in their second match against Fowlerville, however, a comeback was not in the works.
“You don’t have many double duals when you wrestle someone the caliber of Eaton Rapids and Fowlerville in the same night,” Martel said. “This is what we need, two duals in the same night. That gets you ready for team districts and team regionals because you have to perform twice.”
DeWitt overcame a 29-7 deficit to edge Eaton Rapids 34-32 in the other dual.