Richmond’s David Kaltz goes for a pin against Algonac’s James Ladd Wednesday night during the Division 3 regional semifinals at Richmond High School.
RICHMOND – Just because Richmond winning a regional wrestling title and advancing to Battle Creek has become somewhat of a foregone conclusion, it doesn’t mean the Blue Devils don’t appreciate each step of the journey.
On Wednesday night, Richmond knocked off Croswell-Lexington 60-10 in the regional final — and defeated Algonac 75-3 in the semifinal — to win its seventh straight regional title, and advance to the state quarterfinals.
“It’s an awesome experience to be back, we look forward to it every single year,” said Richmond senior Austin Vannatter, who had a pair of wins at 145 pounds. “Hopefully we can make the finals and win it this year, we haven’t won it since my freshman year. I just can’t wait, it’s the best time of the year.”
The Blue Devils, who have wrestled in the state title match in each of the past five years, will learn their quarterfinal opponent Sunday when the MHSAA announces the seeding for the state finals. The Blue Devils will most certainly be a top-two seed, along with Dundee, and have a shot at No. 1.
On Wednesday, the Blue Devils were dominant, winning 24 of their 28 matches, with 17 of those wins coming by pin. Four of the 24 were voids, meaning 17 of the 20 (85%) matches Richmond wrestled, ended with a pinfall, most of those in the first period.
“Bonus points are so important the next couple weeks,” Richmond coach Brandon Day said. “We got some good matches out of some guys. We have a couple things to tweak and fix, but we’re healthy, and I really think we’re wrestling our best going into the important part of the season.
“When you get a chance put someone away, put them away. I have flashbacks to 2007, having people on their back against Dundee in the finals and only getting majors instead of falls, and you lose by a point, you lose by two.”
Cros-Lex actually led Richmond early on, getting a major decision from Brandon Turner at 135 to go up 4-0. The Pioneers led 7-6 after a decision from Collin Lieber at 152. But Richmond won nine of the final 10 matches to pull away and get the win.
Devin Skatzka (160), Jordan Adams (171), Brady LaFore (189), Adam Boyd (285), Jacob Hatcher (112), Cody Keller (119), Aaron Kilburn (125) and Alex Roberts (130) each won by pin for Richmond in the final, while David Kaltz (140) and Austin Vannatter (145) won decisions, and Roy Costello (103) accepted a void.
Francisco Puebla won a decision for Cros-Lex at 215 to give the Pioneers their third win of the dual.
“I have a ton of respect for (Cros-Lex coach) Joe Lilly,” Day said. “When I was a little kid, he was the guy in this area. When my brother was wrestling in high school, Joe Lilly was the guy. They’ve got a good team, and I wish them nothing but the best.”
Richmond won 13 of the 14 matches against Algonac, with Nick Fredericks giving the Muskrats a 7-1 decision at 135.
The Blue Devils picked up six in most other weights, however, as Roy Costello (103), Alec Ziza (112), Cody Keller (119), David Kaltz (140), Austin Vannatter (145), Derek Wyatt (152), Devin Skatzka (160), Brady LaFore (215) and Adam Boyd (285) all winning by pin. Owen Vannatter (125), Alex Roberts (130) and Jordan Adams (171) each won by void, while Tyler Marino (189) won a major decision.
Cros-Lex defeated Clawson 62-9 in its semifinal match. Brandon Turner (135), Brendan Ling (140), Keagan Silverthorn (160), Garrett Gelinski (119) and Nick Barnhart (125) each won by pin for Cros-Lex, while Collin Lieber (152) and Ryan Beyer (171) won by technical fall and Connor Woodruff (112) won a major decision. Trevor Woodruff (145), Francisco Puebla (215) and Jose Garcia (285) each took a void.
“I thought it would be a little better matchup there, but we took it to them, then Richmond took it to us,” Lilly said. “We wrestled tough. We’re young still and they wrestled tough. Getting 10 points on Richmond, I was hoping around there, maybe a little more. They’re a heck of a team, and I wish them the best at states. We were happy to be here.”
Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PaulCostanzo