Key wins flip script as West wrestlers upend Central

Jan. 10—TRAVERSE CITY — As Logan Keller went, so did Traverse City West.

Keller reversed a loss from earlier this season, and the Titans did the same, toppling Traverse City Central, 51-30, for West's first regular-season win over its rival in three years.

The Titans freshman 175-pounder pinned Jesus Montelongo in the third period, a few weeks after he was pinned by Montelongo in West's holiday tournament.

"He pinned me with roll when I was trying a half nelson," Keller said. "I stayed humble. I'm friends with that guy. But it felt good to win the match."

Montelongo led 8-7 going into the third before Keller secured the win via pin 48 seconds into the period to boost his record to 16-7.

The Titans reeled off three more wins after Keller's to take a 39-18 lead with four matches left.

"That was monumental because he that got the whole momentum swing going," West head coach Berard Priante said. "Then Nick (Pawlowicz) went out there and won and Brady (Vaughan) won, then Bode (Tokie) won. At that point, that pretty much put the match away."

Three of those four big wins came from wrestlers moving up a weight class.

"We moved kids up to get a little better matchup," Priante said. "But they go the other way, they're winning and we're losing. Those were big matches."

Pawlowicz also reversed his fortune against Central's Gavin Love. They wrestled each other in a joint practice, and it didn't go well for Pawlowicz.

This time around, he recorded a pin 1:03 into the second period.

"I was nervous going into it," Pawlowicz said. "It went better than I expected."

The junior started wrestling only two months ago and has a 12-10 record.

Vaughan recorded a takedown in his match before the clock even started running and pinned his opponent in 29 seconds at 215 pounds, while Tokie needed just 1:13 to win by fall at heavyweight to lead 39-18.

"I knew if I stuck to my technique and what my coaches taught me, I could pull off the win," said Tokie, who has a 4-3 record this season. "Wins against the Trojans mean a lot to our school. It means a lot to the community. And we expect more."

Central bounced back with victories by Davonne Orns at 106 and Michael Risinger (17-4) at 113, both by first-period pin to trim the lead to 39-30, but West's Aiden Geetings won at 120 by forfeit and Matthew Quigley kept up his undefeated season with a 1:19 fall to improve the state's No. 3-ranked wrestler at 126 pounds to 26-0.

West started the match with a 10-0 decision by Alex Reynolds at 132 and a Caleb Thomas pin at 138 with eight seconds left in the second period of a match that was scoreless before the fall.

Central's Brady Slocum (15-3 and ranked No. 16 at 138 pounds) won at 144 after a second-period right elbow injury by Boden Holmes to start a string of three straight Trojan wins, with Landon Maddox following up with a pin with only four seconds left in the first period and Grady Rousse (14-3 and ranked No. 7 at 150) getting a fall at 158 with just nine ticks left in the first period.

West's Trapper Holmes won by pin in 1:01 at 165 pounds to set up Keller's big match.

"Great matches for us as a team brought it back for Boden, who got injured earlier," Pawlowicz said.

Central was without heavyweight Johnny Ferguson, 144-pounder Ryker Craig and Reece Schulz due to injuries. Central head coach Don Funk said he hopes the three are back by districts, when the Titan and Trojans are likely to clash again in a bracket hosted by TC West that also includes Midland.

"They're resting up and hopefully they're all back by the end of the season," he said. "We're looking for a good postseason run where we look competitive. Everybody every week is getting better, and I'm excited to see how much higher we can reach going into the postseason."

Central won 40-33 last season and had won two in a row in the rivalry.

"It was a big win," Priante said. "We've been getting better every week. We're building momentum, so this was a big one to keep that keep that ball rolling."

Priante, who served as the Titans head coach from 1997-2012 and stayed active in the program ever since, said he gets asked frequently what it's like to be leading the program as head coach once again.

"It's easy when you have kids that want to learn and want to work hard," he said. "It's easy. I don't do anything. I just show up and teach them stuff and they go out there and work hard and learn."

The Titans won the Fulton tournament and placed in the top six of the competitive Chippewa Hill and Grand Haven tourneys.

Both Central and West return to action in Saturday's 10-team tournament at the Grand Traverse Resort that features numerous ranked teams, including Westland John Glenn, Adrian, Kingsley, Clinton, Gladstone, TC West, Lowell's varsity B, Montrose and Warren De La Salle.

Exhibition match winners for Central included Michael Smith (215, pin), Jonas Bulger (144, pin), Aiden Shutler (138, decision) and Dylan Conklin (144, pin). West had exhibition wins by Dan Kettler (138, pin) and Harper Rinal (132, pin).

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