The first step toward a state wrestling title was conquered by several local high school wrestling standouts at individual district tournaments held throughout the state on Saturday.
The top four placers in each of the 14 weight classes advanced to this weekend’s regional round.
The bulk of the local mat stars competed at Westland John Glenn High School, which served as a regional springboard for 19 athletes who for one of the three public Livonia high schools or the host Rockets.
Led by freshman sensation Mike Mars, who won the 103-pound crown and improved to 44-1 with a 6-0 decision over Detroit Catholic Central’s Stone Moscovic, John Glenn carved out six spots in the regionals.
Also advancing for the Rockets are 135-pound Brad Speen (26-21), 171-pound Logan Beaudoin (25-20), 215-pound Nate Irvine (35-12), 125-pound champion Chase Spanos (37-5) and Beneteau, who is 40-11 at 130 pounds.
Six Livonia Franklin grapplers extended their season by at least one Saturday, including weight-class champion Nathan Atienza, who upended Canton’s Ty Jasman, 8-2, in the 140-pound final. Atienza improved his record to 43-2.
Others moving on for the Patriots are 171-pounder Mitchell Retting (36-16), 103-pounder Antonio Herrera (29-11), 112-pounder Johnny DiPonio (27-14), 125-pounder Adam Ross (29-18) and 130-pounder Nick Robertson, who improved to 41-12 following a 11-7 decision over John Glenn’s Payton Beneteau in their class’s third-fourth-place match.
Two of the Livonia Churchill wrestlers who earned regional berths won their respective weight class: 215-pounder Baker Hadwan, who improved to 41-6 after upending Dearborn Heights Crestwood’s Ali Beydoun in the final, 9-2; and 145-pounder Zac Leck, who moved to 30-9 following a 3-1 verdict over Northville’s Chris Koumariotis.
Also placing in the top four for the Chargers were Chase Gardner (40-10), who took third at 152; Jake Mercieca (39-10), who placed fourth at 285; and Josh Mussen (34-8), who was second at 112.
Two Livonia Stevenson grapplers turned in regional-qualifying performances: Connor Vaughan (31-4), who placed second at 171; and Brad Scott (36-5), who was third at 189.
Southgate Anderson district
Two Wayne Memorial wrestlers proved to be regional-worthy: 160-pound Jamon Higgins (34-11) placed third as did 189-pound Alex James, who improved to 35-13.
Higgins decisioned Temperance-Bedford’s Kyle Kahut, 12-11, in the third-fourth match while James outlasted Ann Arbor Pioneer’s Frederick Ortiz, 3-2.
Division 2 at Warren Lincoln
In a brutally-tough tournament loaded with state-ranked programs, Redford Union managed to push just one wrestler – Tavian Groves – on to the regionals.
Groves placed fourth in the 145-pound weight class after getting pinned by Warren Woods-Tower’s Demetreis Reid in the third-fourth tilt.
Division 4 at Clinton
Led by 215-pound champion Thomas Krueger, four Lutheran Westland athletes managed to earn regional berths. Krueger improved to 40-5 with his second-round pin of Clinton’s Austin Popp.
The Warriors also advanced another 215-pounder, Nic Glinn, who will take a 16-7 mark into Saturday’s regional competition.
Lutheran Westland’s Manny Rankin (119 pounds) and Andy Faith (125) both placed fourth. Rankin’s record is 29-16 while Faith’s ledger stands at 30-17.