Postseason Roundup: Benzie advances to 2nd day of wrestling state finals for 1st time ever; TC West completes 'Phillips Sweep' at regionals; Sabres girls win regional title; Titans' hockey season ends in regional semis

Feb. 23—KALAMAZOO — Saturday night might be all right for fighting, but Friday afternoon was made for wrestling as the Benzie Central Huskies did something no previous team had done in program history.

The Huskies took to the mats at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo on Friday, knocking off Iron Mountain by a 59-13 final in the Division 4 state championship quarterfinals. The victory advanced Benzie to the semifinals and the second day of state championship wrestling action for the first time in Huskie history.

"This feels amazing," Benzie head coach Josh Lovendusky said. "The kids wrestled well. There were a couple little jitters, but we came out on top where we needed to."

The third-ranked Huskies will battle D4 No. 2 St. Louis with a bit of revenge on their minds after the Sharks sent Benzie home in the state quarters last season. St. Louis toppled Maring, 39-26, to advance to the semifinals, which begin at 9:30 a.m. Saturday back at the Wings Event Center.

"You can't overlook anybody," Lovendusky said. "St. Louis is a tough team. We lost to them last year by a match, so we're looking forward to the rematch. I think we definitely have a shot to be in the finals. St. Louis has a tough lower end of their lineup. We have a tough upper end of our lineup with some tough kids down below."

Several Huskies wrestled up a weight class in a strategic move from Lovendusky and the Benzie coaching staff to set their lineup for the two-day tournament.

"There's a chess game that's happening," Lovendusky said. "We only have the one weigh-in, so we have to make sure we have our lineups set for the whole tournament. To give us the best chance to win the whole thing, we had to have certain kids in certain places."

Some of those bumping up a class included Dalton Geetings from 150 pounds to 157, Tyron Brouillet from 157 to 165, and Conner Wenkel from 165 to 175. Brouillett, who won district and regional championships at 157 pounds, took a three-point loss to last year's state runner-up.

"The kids did what they needed to do," Lovendusky said. "Tyrone, he wasn't happy, but he understands the reasons for it and he understands what he did for his team. So it was really cool to see him go out there and wrestle for his team."

Benjamin DeRidder picked up career victory No. 100 in his junior year, winning via pin at 126 pounds. Cage Edingfield won via pin at 106 points; Dayne Gillison won via pin at 113; Zavier LaBonte lost via pin at 120; Nathan Higgins lost by decision at 132; Jacob Gillison won by decision at 138; Joe Morse won via pin at 144; Owen Cruden won via forfeit at 150; Geetings won via tech fall at 157; Wenkel won via decision at 175; Michael Pfeiffer won via pin at 190; Lane Sanchez won via forfeit at 215; and Ryan Kincaid won via forfeit at 285.

"Across the board, we had guys step up," Lovendusky said. "Fifty-nine points scored at the state finals. The only other team that scored more was Hudson, and they're last year's state champion."

Lovendusky credited the wrestlers, the coaching staff and the Benzie community for helping the Huskies get this far.

"Everyone has worked their tails off to make everything come together," he said. "Sometimes it's a struggle, and sometimes we fight. But that's what families do, and we've learned how to overcome our obstacles and make things happen."

Hudson, which is ranked No. 1 in D4, battles sixth-ranked Manchester in the other semifinal. The top-ranked Tigers decimated their quarterfinal opponent, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran, 72-3. Manchester won 30-22 over Bronson.

"Hudson has five No. 1-ranked kids on their team," Lovendusky said. "So when you're trying to beat those kids, it's tough. At this level, it's trying not to give up bonus points if you lose and it's trying to get bonus points if you win."

The championship finals are set to begin at 3:45 p.m.

"They're calm, but they're levelheaded," Lovendusky said of his wrestlers. "They're excited knowing they made it to the second day, but the job isn't done. They know there is more to go."


Titan girls sweep top 3 spots

MUSKEGON — Traverse City West's Taylor Phillips, Jordan LaFleur and Alyssa Tanner made the Division 1 individual regionals at the Sherman Bowling Center in Muskegon as easy as 1-2-3.

Phillips won a Division 1 regional championship by just one pin over her teammates, rolling a six-game series of 1,181 while LaFleur and Tanner tied with a 1,180. LaFleur won the tiebreaker with a high game of 233 to earn second place while Tanner finished third.

All three qualified for the individual state finals at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park on March 1-2.

The Titans, however, fell seven pins shy of qualifying for the state finals as a team. West finished in third place with a combined score of 2,895. Grand Haven took second at 2,901, and Rockford won with a 2,990.

On the boys side, Cooper Phillips completed the "Phillips Sweep" by winning the individual regional championship with a six-game score of 1,280.

Traverse City Central's Carter Banton qualified for state along with Cooper Phillips, finishing sixth with a 1,207.

Neither West nor Central qualified as a team. The Trojans finished third and the Titans took sixth.

TC Christian girls win regional crown

TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City Christian varsity girls bowling team dominated the competition at Friday's Division 4 regionals at Lucky Jack's in Traverse City.

The Sabres combined to roll a 2,817 — nearly 400 pins better than runner-up Oscoda — to win a regional title and qualify for the state tournament as a team.

The TC Christian boys team will head to the state finals as well. The Sabres finished second to regional champion Houghton Lake, rolling a 3,153.

The Division 4 state finals take place at Northway Lanes in Muskegon on March 1-2.

Rambler boys win regional title

CHEBOYGAN — The Boyne City varsity boys bowling team left Spare Time Lines in Cheboygan with a regional championship trophy in tow Friday.

The Ramblers rolled Baker games of 192, 152, 204, 226, 170, 157, 190 and 147. Boyne City finished game one with a total of 1,046 and game two with a total of 915 to finish in first place in Division 3.

In game one, high scores went to Zach Piechan (258), Jonathan Shepherd (238), Eric Mansfield (204), Tim Aemmer (174) and Liam Dart (172). Game two high scores went to Mansfield (215), Piechan (191), Dart/Lukas McLeod (175), Aemmer/Tim Payton (168) and Shepherd 167.

The D3 state finals take place at Jax 60 in Jackson on March 1-2.


Titans fall to Sparta in regional semis, 5-3

MUSKEGON — The Titans fought back from down 4-0 with 10 minutes left in the second period to get within 4-3, but they could not complete another postseason comeback after Sparta tallied an empty-net goal with 42 seconds remaining in the game at the Trinity Health Arena in Muskegon on Friday. The Titans end their 2023-24 campaign at 11-14.

Traverse City West: Jonah Starr 1 goal; Brandon Meyers 1 goal, 1 assist; Kallen Ray 1 goal, 1 assist; Lincoln Seyferth 2 assists; Hudson Robinson 1 assist.