by Angie Asam-Staff Writer
Senior Casey Watson (189) and junior Joe Traynham (112) won individual regional titles in wrestling Saturday in Rogers City. Sophomore Zeke Nave (119) finished second and all three will be competing at the individual state finals Feb. 27 through March 1 at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Watson pinned Reiley Somers of Manton in 1:14 to start his day. He then defeated Hesperia’s Freddy Vanderstelt 14-0 to punch a ticket into the finals where he pinned Pine River’s Tyler Mccurry in 1:28 to claim a regional title.
“Casey was the first to qualify for us and it was great to see him take that next step from where he ended last year. Pinning his way through the tournament was very nice for him and by finishing first he put himself in the best possible position for the finals. It is his first trip down to the Palace and I am sure he sees himself doing well. He has never backed down from a match before and that mentality has given him the ability to respond in big match situations,” said coach Mark Grant
Traynham defeated Manton’s Ryan Groendyke 15-1 and Tony Moore of Pine River 11-0 to get into the finals. In the finals he took on Rudyard’s Jimmy Spencer, the third consecutive tournament where the two would face off in the championship match. Traynham defeated Spencer for the conference title Feb. 1 with Spencer taking the district title over him Feb. 8.
Saturday was Traynham’s turn as he defeated Spencer 6-1 to capture the regional title. “Joe was the next to punch his ticket and he finished his day on the top of the podium as a regional champion by avenging a loss in last weeks district final match. Joe wrestled an impressive day while dominating all three of his matches defeating Spencer in the finals. Joe is also making his first trip to the finals after putting in a very impressive off-season wrestling for Team Michigan in both Florida and North Dakota in between 6 different intensive training camps. Joe has invested a lot of time and work into this season and he is reaping the rewards of his efforts,” said coach Grant
Nave defeated Forest Area’s Landon Elliott 6-4 and Kyle Leonard of Whittemore Prescott 6-1 to get into the finals. In the finals he fell to Zach Schaub of Traverse City St. Francis 10-2 to finish second. Nave will be making his second consecutive trip to the state finals.
“Isaac made it 3-for-3 for my guys getting into the finals and extending his season.
He has been in that situation before and knew how to handle the pressure that all the wrestlers feel in that qualifying match. Making a return trip to the Palace is always fun and he will be looking to take a step forward from last year, but that goes without saying. Zeke has had more than his fair share of issues this year but he has listened well and done things right to give himself the best chances for being ready for the final push to the podium. He will be working this week to improve where he fell short on Saturday and prep himself for next week,” said coach Grant.
Watson enters the state tournament as the No. 7 ranked wrestler at 189 pounds in Division IV. Eh will face Jonesville’s Garret Griffiths in the opening round of the finals. Watson is 24-4 on the season.
Traynham enters the tournament ranked No. 6 and will take on Maher Rameirez on of Bangor in the first round. Traynham is now 39-4 this season.
Nave is honorable mention in the rankings and will take on No. 6 ranked Lamont Cannon of Highland Park in the first round. Nave is 17-6 on the year.