It’s do or die time for high school wrestlers all over Michigan.
The Saline High School wrestling team survived their first two tests of the post season to win the team district championship Wednesday at Saline High School. It was the eighth straight district title for Saline.
Saline was the heavy favorite. The Hornets opened with a 51-24 victory over Huron and then clinched the trophy with a 65-16 win over Pioneer.
“We’ve done good things this year as a team, and this is one of those things we wanted to accomplish. We just wanted to go out and wrestle to the best of our ability. It doesn’t really matter who we’re wrestling against, it’s about how we perform,” Saline head coach Chad O’Brien said. “So we’ll go back tomorrow and watch film and take a closer look at how we performed.”
For many wrestlers, it’s their last chance to improve before the individual district tournament Saturday, where for every wrestler dreaming of grappling their way to the Palace of Auburn Hills, the mantra is, “win or go home.”
But thanks to Wednesday’s district victory, even those wrestlers who don’t make it through Saturday will live to fight on at least one more time. Saline hosts the team regional next Wednesday. The Hornets will face perennial powerhouse Bedford, who advanced with a 37-36 victory over Woodhaven Wednesday. Westland John Glenn and Belleville wrestle on the other side of the bracket.
Saline enters a tough regional with more confidence than they’ve had in past years.
“We’ve got a chance. We’re in with Bedford. We’ve upset them once. They’re a great team and John Glenn is a tall task. But with this young team and the way they’re improving, nothing is out of the question,” O’Brien said.
Saline had no trouble defeating a Huron team that lacked warm bodies in the weight classes. David Gould won an 8-4 decision.
Pioneer had more wrestlers, but Saline picked up even more wins.
Dylan Hughes, 130, pinned Renya Kushido in just 22 seconds. Kyle Hartman, 135, won a 16-0 tech fall. Daniel Poupore, 140, pinned Alexander Perez in 1:40. Elliot Hill, 145, pinned Cody Clair at 1:25. Jaylen Caruana, 152, pinned Alexander Baker at 3:40. Cade Gilless, 160, pinned Donovan Rees at 1:23. And Ryan Lampman, 171, pinned Josh Smith at 1:26.