Different team. Different place. Different year.
For the eighth straight year, Richmond wrestling is off to the Division 3 state finals in search of its eighth state title since 2000. It goes without saying, but head coach Brandon Day knows how to get his team prepared for this weekend.
“It’s man time,” Day said. “It’s time to be a grown up. I tell them if you can put your selfish wants on the side and look in the mirror and truly say you gave everything you can give, we’re going to be fine.”
This year the Blue Devils – along with seven other Division 3 title hopefuls – will be heading to Central Michigan University to compete at McGuirk Arena instead of Battle Creek, where the tourney was previously held.
While the location is different, the outlook will be identical as Richmond and Dundee are two teams with giant targets on their backs. The Blue Devils and Vikings have met in five of the last six finals, with Richmond winning three of those meets. Richmond also won another in 2011 against Lake Fenton.
However, should the two powerhouses meet, it will be during Saturday’s semifinals as Richmond is seeded No. 4 and Dundee No. 1. It’s certainly a surprise to see Richmond outside of the top three, but Day insisted it’s not a big deal as they’ll “have to beat everyone anyway.”
Richmond’s state finals trip will start with a meet against No. 5-seeded Whitehall at 4 p.m. on Friday. Whitehall is, of course, no slouch, boasting seven wrestlers in Division 3 ranked in the top 16 of their weight class according to michigangrappler.com.
Reiley Brown (135), Jwan Britton (140) and JoJo Dowdell (145) all represent Whitehall as top three wrestlers.
Richmond – who will send nine wrestlers to the individual state finals – will counter with nine ranked wrestlers, including top-ranked senior Aaron Kilburn (125).
Of course, one of the top Blue Devils will be junior Roy Costello (112), who as one of the heroes of last year’s title win. With his team down eight points with two matches to go, Costello got a pin in the 103 pound match to set the table for then-senior Connor Behem to win it all in the final match.
“I think about it all the time,” Costello said. “(I remember) just looking at my team members and my coaches, and seeing them all know that we did it.”
This year’s team has a different look to them as they have a solid mix of experienced juniors and seniors and a good number of underclassmen. One of those newcomers is freshman Hunter Seguin, who was in the bleachers as a fan for the last few state title trips.
“I remember wanting to be on the mat really badly,” Seguin recalled.
There’s no doubt Seguin has the chance to be a big contributor on the mats as he won the individual regional title last weekend.
The Blue Devils will have to wait until this weekend to see who truly steps up, but Day is confident his team has grown enough to surprise the field as the No. 4-seeded squad.
“These younger kids, they progressed a lot quicker than most thought they would,” Day said. “We knew we had a lot of talent in the room, we just needed it to progress and develop, and it did. We’re right there.”
Division 3 quarterfinals
No. 1 Dundee (18-0) vs. No. 8 Delton Kellogg (18-3)
No. 4 Richmond (24-10) vs. No. 5 Whitehall (25-1)
No. 3 Lake Fenton (38-3) vs. No. 6 Birch Run (26-4)
No. 2 Remus Chippewa Hills (39-1) vs. No. 7 Gladstone (16-1)