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Kingsley earns another shot at Gladstone

Feb. 7—KINGSLEY — The warm-ups speak for themselves.

Kingsley pumped up the volume, though.

Wearing warm-ups with "Redemption" in big letter across their backs, the Stags carved their way through Wednesday's Division 3 team wrestling districts at home, beating Manistee 64-18 and Traverse City St. Francis 40-24 to set up a revenge match against Gladstone next week.

"It's been our focus all year," Kingsley 144-pounder Jon Pearson said. "We've put 'redemption' on the back of our shirts and everything we have. That focus is Gladstone."

Gladstone won a controversial regional title last year, taking the trophy on a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty call on Sam Goethals after he won a match that appeared to seal a Stags state finals berth by a slim 39-38 margin.

Goethals' win put Kingsley up a point after the final match. He stood up, tossed his headgear to coaches and went to have his hand raised.

That's when Gladstone coaches asked for a penalty for throwing headgear, even though video of the match shows it wasn't much of a throw at all. The Stags were penalized one point, making the match a tie. Gladstone won on a tiebreaker.

"I've seen it when they chucked it," Pearson said. "He shouldn't have done it, but it happened. I haven't seen that (call) before. We just won regionals and were going to states. He was excited."

Gladstone visits Kingsley for team regionals next Wednesday, although each squad needs to win a dual to set up a title rematch. Kingsley faces Ogemaw Heights in the opening round, while Gladstone squares off with fellow Upper Peninsula program Kingsford.

"We want to get revenge for last year," Stags 190-pounder Caleb Bott said. "We had the win last year, but it is what it is. We just have to come back this year stronger than ever."

No. 10 Gladstone won its district final 76-6 over Cheboygan on Wednesday.

"It's going to be a little tougher," said Pearson, who won by decision last year against Gladstone. "We had 10 people go to state last year and this year we lost a bunch of kids, but we still think it's it's doable."

The unranked Stags won Wednesday's district for the program's fourth in a row despite several wrestlers hitting the mat while sick.

"The team pulled it together," Stags head coach Corey Crew said. "I'm proud of the adversity that we have faced all season. We look forward to competing next week at team regionals."

The team that hosted regionals each of the last four years has won it.

Bott said having the match won last year, despite the score officially saying Gladstone won 39-38 instead of the other way around.

"It is nice knowing that, but it also still stings a little bit," Bott said. "We going to go in there and give it everything we have."

Kingsley knocked off Manistee first, getting six wins by forfeit in the process. The Mariners had forfeit wins by Braden Cruz, Ava Pike and Genevieve Hanson.

The Mariners have only one senior on the roster, one dominated by girls. Five of Manistee's nine wrestlers are girls, including both captains in Joey Banicki — the lone senior — and Pike, a state qualifier a year ago.

Manistee heads to individual districts Saturday at Grayling, along with St. Francis and Kingsley.

Kingsley's winners against Manistee included Gavyn Merchant, Pearson, Cameron Dundas and Colton Goethals by void, before Tyler Unterbrink won the first actual match by pin in 3:44 at 165 pounds and Isaiah Cosgrove followed up with a 10-2 major decision. Bott added a fall with seven second left in the second period of his 190-pound match, with Max Goethals and Alex Drury getting forfeit wins at 215 and 120, Macy Pierce posting a 2:25 pin at 126 Nolan Hodges getting a 2:52 fall at 132 to close out the match.

The Stags started with a 17-0 lead on St. Francis in the finals, as Pearson won by fall in 1:36, Dundas won by 17-1 technical fall and Colton Goethals had a 3:36 pin at 157.

Beau Belanger (26-11) posted TCSF's first win, getting an escape with seven seconds left to win 7-6 at 165 in the night's closest match. Matthew Rialson followed by a pin with 53 seconds left in the third period to pull the Gladiators within 17-9.

"Rialson's match, to get a fall at that point when it's a really really close match, was big for us," St. Francis first-year head coach Chris Sheeran said. "It gave us a little bit of momentum. Let the kids believe that they could that they could roll with these guys."

Bott won by forfeit and Max Goethals posted his second win of the night with a 1:50 fall before SF's Garrett Russell won by forfeit at heavyweight. Both teams voided at 106 and 113, with St. Francis sophomore Luke Harper pulling out a 5-3 decision at 120 for his 18th win of the season.

Tyler Sheeran won by 1:24 pin at 126 for his 33rd win of the season to put Kingsley's lead to 29-24.

Hodges won by forfeit at 132 and Merchant posted a 17-2 technical fall to end the match with the Stags up 40-24.

"We're a young team and we worked hard today," Sheeran said. "We fought and had some grit today. I told the kids, 'Scratch claw for every inch of the mat we possibly can.' I'm proud with their effort there. We lose one senior this year, so we'll be back strong next year."

The Gladiators lose only one senior, Tyler Sheeran, and also have five eighth-grader wrestlers moving up next season.

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