Richmond celebrates their victory over Dundee for the Division 3 State Championship.
BATTLE CREEK — Connor Behem’s knee locked up during a morning practice session Saturday. At that moment, it’s doubtful the Richmond senior, who was dealing with a torn MCL and meniscus, was thinking about being the hero.
But at 5:48 p.m., less than 12 hours later, Behem recorded the most important pin of his life, sticking Dundee’s Harry Wallace to give Richmond a 27-25 win against its archrival, and lock up the Division 3 state championship.
“I knew our team needed me in the end,” Behem said. “I knew I needed to go out there and get six, so I went out there on a mission, I knew what I was going to do.”
Behem’s pin capped off a comeback victory for the Blue Devils, who had trailed 25-12 with three matches remaining. Adam Boyd won by decision at 285, Roy Costello won by pin at 103, and Behem finished it off at 112.
Richmond put itself in that position by not giving up bonus points in seven of the eight matches it lost, and the one match that did result in bonus points was simply a major decision. It was a stark contrast to a year ago when the Blue Devils lost 34-24 despite splitting the 14 matches with Dundee.
“Everyone did their job, it was great,” Richmond senior Devin Skatzka said. “We saved bonus points at the last second in like 10 matches – three or four matches, I don’t know. I’m so pumped right now. It was a whole team effort. I had it thought out in my head, and I knew we still had a chance and we could pin at (103) and (112). I’m just freaking out right now.”
Dundee led 16-3 after six matches, an Aaron Kilburn decision at 125 the only thing that had Richmond from being shut out to that point. Austin Pawlak won by decision at 152 for the Blue Devils, and Skatzka won with a pin at 160 to make the score 16-12. Dundee’s next three wrestlers, however, were all ranked in the top four in their respective weight classes, and Donny Mandell, Brandon Whitman and Tye Thompson each won a match. None got their team more than three points, however.
“Brady (LaFore), Jordan (Adams), Hosa (Anthony Hinojosa), Graham Barton, Alex Roberts bumps up a weight man,” Richmond coach Brandon Day said. “(Not giving up bonus points) is all you can ask from them.”
Boyd kept Richmond’s hopes alive with his 3-0 win at 285, and Costello set the Richmond cheering section ablaze with a pin in 31 seconds at 103, bringing his team to within four points.
“They asked me to do something, go out and cradle the kid,” Costello said. “I did that for them. It’s a dream. That was pretty good to do. It feels awesome.
“The vibes from the crowd was amazing. I got pumped up listening to them.”
Anticipating another pin, the crowd erupted as Behem started to take Wallace to his back, and erupted along with the Richmond bench as the official slapped the mat.
“It’s awesome,” Behem said. “Words can’t describe this feeling right now. They cannot.”
Richmond defeated Chippewa Hills 32-19 in the semifinals.
The win featured just one pin, as Aaron Kilburn picked one up for Richmond at 125 pounds. That gave his team a 9-0 lead, as Cody Keller had won a 13-6 decision at 119 to open the match.
Devin Skatzka won by technical fall, 21-6, at 160 pounds for the Blue Devils, while Austin Vannatter (140), Austin Pawlak (152), Jordan Adams (171), Brady LaFore (189), Adam Boyd (285) and Roy Costello (103) all won by decision.