Richmond is used to wrestling against the best. The schedule set up by coach Brandon Day takes the team all over Michigan and Ohio in search of some of the country’s top teams.
Now, to win a state title, Richmond could have to go through three of the top four teams in Division 3. The fourth, of course, being Richmond.
The Blue Devils open the team state tournament at 5:30 p.m. Friday against Birch Run at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. The Panthers, who are ranked No. 4 in the state, are the No. 7 seed. A win in the quarters would put Richmond in Saturday morning’s semifinals against either No. 3 Chippewa Hills or No. 6 Allegan. The state finals will be at 4 p.m. Saturday, and there’s a good chance Richmond will see No. 1 Dundee.
“It’s like when we won it in (2006), if we can knock off these three great teams in a row, nobody can question anything,” Day said. “We didn’t run from anybody, we didn’t beg for a seed, we didn’t wrestle a weaker schedule to get a higher seed. We went through some of the best teams in our country, and we beat the three best teams in our division to win the state title, if that’s what happens.”
Richmond and Birch Run were at the same individual regional tournament, with the Blue Devils qualifying 11 wrestlers for the state tournament, and Birch Run getting nine through. Here’s how the teams match up.
103: Roy Costello, Richmond vs. Jeremy Cox, Birch Run. Costello is 36-7 on the year and was a regional runner-up. He’s ranked No. 3 in Division 3 at the weight. Cox is 16-15 and did not wrestle at the regional.
112: Connor Behem, Richmond vs. Colton Fritzler, Birch Run. Behem is 35-9 on the year and placed third at the regional tournament. He’s ranked No. 4 in the division, and was seventh in the state a year ago. Fritzler is 20-16 and did not wrestle at the regional tournament.
119: Aaron Kilburn or Cody Keller, Richmond vs. Mason Breece, Birch Run. Richmond starts to have options here. Kilburn is a returning state champion who is 36-6 on the year, is ranked No. 2 in the division and defeated Breece in the regional final. Keller is 30-15 and placed fourth in the region. Breece is 38-8 and is the only wrestler Kilburn hasn’t pinned since he cut down to 119 on Feb. 7.
125: Kilburn or Alex Roberts, Richmond vs. Jerry Fenner, Birch Run. Roberts is 22-20 and was a regional qualifier. Fenner is 47-4 on the year, ranked No. 1 in the division at 125 and was a regional champion. He defeated Roberts 4-1 in the regional.
130: Graham Barton, Richmond vs. Adam Grim, Birch Run. Barton is 7-10 on the year, and a state qualifier, having finished fourth in the region. Grim is 40-11 and defeated Barton 4-3 in the consolation final at the regional.
135: David Kaltz, Richmond vs. Joe Damm, Birch Run. Kaltz is 18-20 on the year. Damm is 37-18 and qualified for state by placing fourth in the region.
140: Austin Vannatter or Zack Roberts, Richmond vs. Ean Taylor, Birch Run. Richmond could bump and have Vannatter at 145, where he is wrestling individually. It has plenty of options. Vannatter is 36-8 on the year and was a regional champion. He placed sixth in the state a year ago and is ranked No. 5 at 145. Roberts is 17-16 on the year. Taylor is 36-8 and was the regional champion at 140. He’s ranked No. 7.
145: Vannatter or Derek Wyatt, Richmond vs. Malachi Breece or Tyler Childs, Birch Run. Vannatter defeated Childs and Breece in the first two rounds of the regional. Both matches were two-point matches. Childs (31-8) did take fourth to qualify. Wyatt is 21-8 on the year.
152: Austin Pawlak or Colton McKiernan, Richmond vs. Breece or Childs, Birch Run. McKiernan was second in the regional tournament. Pawlak hasn’t wrestled since Feb. 7, but is 19-7 and won the Blue Water Area Conference tournament. He was ranked in the top four before the postseason.
160: Devin Skatzka, Richmond vs. Logan Bovee, Birch Run. Skatzka is a three-time state champion and 46-2 on the year. He pinned Bovee in the regional semifinals. Bovee is 34-8 and ranked No. 7 in the division.
171: Jordan Adams, Richmond vs. Justin Elliott or Steven Williams, Birch Run. Adams is 36-7 on the year, ranked No. 3 in the division. He pinned Williams in the first round of the regional. Elliott has the better record for Birch Run, at 23-5.
189: Brady LaFore, Richmond vs. Connor Koneiczney, Birch Run. LaFore is 24-15 and took third in the regional to qualify for state. Koneiczney is 16-13 on the year.
215: Anthony Hinojosa, Richmond vs. George Lahar, Birch Run. Hinojosa is 15-6 on the year, and lost 8-2 against Lahar in the first round at the regional. Lahar is 50-3, ranked No. 2 in the division, and was a regional runner-up.
285: Adam Boyd, Richmond vs. Colin Slavik, Birch Run. Boyd is 35-10 and was a regional runner-up. He’s ranked No. 2 in the division. Slavik is 38-10, and finished third in the region.
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo.
DIVISION 3 WRESTLING FINALS
At Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek
Friday, 5:30 p.m.
•No. 2 Richmond (29-5) vs. No. 7 Birch Run (22-9)
•No. 3 Chippewa Hills (26-3) vs. No. 6 Allegan (29-6)
•No. 1 Dundee (23-5) vs. No. 8 Mason County Central (29-7)
•No. 4 Swan Valley (39-1) vs. No. 5 GR Catholic Central (19-3)
•Semifinals, 11:45 a.m.
•Finals, 4 p.m.
WATCH: Matches will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv. There is a fee.