Chippewa Hills wrestling places first at Joe Loren Memorial Invitational

REMUS — Last year, the Chippewa Hills wrestling team finished third at its annual Joe Loren Memorial Invitational.

But this year, the Warriors made sure no one was beating them on their home floor by winning the 24-team invitational on Saturday with 284.5 points.

The Warriors, who are currently ranked fourth in the state in Division 3, topped the sixth-best team in Division 3 in Swan Valley by 73.5 points for first-place honors while Big Rapids finished 13th with 81 points.

BATTLING FOR POSITION: Chippewa Hills’ Mason Dey (right) grapples with Swan Valley’s Sam McLean (left) in the championship match of the 152-pound bracket at the Joe Loren Memorial Invitational on Saturday at Chippewa Hills. The Warriors won their home tournament with 284.5 points as 14 wrestlers medaled on the day. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

BATTLING FOR POSITION: Chippewa Hills’ Mason Dey (right) grapples with Swan Valley’s Sam McLean (left) in the championship match of the 152-pound bracket at the Joe Loren Memorial Invitational on Saturday at Chippewa Hills. The Warriors won their home tournament with 284.5 points as 14 wrestlers medaled on the day. (Pioneer photo/Greg Buckner)

“This thing was massive and we competed hard (Saturday),” Chippewa Hills coach Nate Ethridge said. “I was real proud of our young guys. They hung tough through a lot of difficult situations and competed hard. I was happy with the way we wrestled back.

“Anytime you have this many good kids, you’re not going to have 14 champs,” he continued. “We’re good, but we’ve got to have kids who take a loss and hop back on it and battle back. That’s how you win these things.”

Chippewa Hills had 14 wrestlers take home medals, with Mason Dey (152) and Jaycob Sharp (140) leading the way with first-place finishes.

Dey, who came into the weekend ranked No. 2 in the state in his weight class, defeated the top-ranked wrestler in the weight class in Swan Valley’s Sam McLean in a 9-6 ultimate tie-breaker victory.

“It was a lot of doubt the whole time,” Dey said. “It was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’ I got tired, but I just kept pushing through and at the end it was so worth it. It was a really great feeling seeing my coaches and my team cheering me on.”

Earning second-place finishes for the Warriors were Slade Todd (135), Kevin Briscoe (160) and Brenden Barry (189). Mike Felix (125) and Billy Koepf (215) both earned third-place finishes while Austin Spedowski (130), Eric Russell (171) and John Spedowski (189) all came in fifth in their weight classes.

Kaden Ellis (112), Austin Young (119), David Spedowski (145) and Derek Stroble (171) all finished fifth to round out the medalists for Chippewa Hills.

“I feel like we’re on the right track,” Ethridge said. “You don’t want to peak on Dec. 20, but I’m proud of where we’re at.

“Obviously, we have places we can improve,” he continued. “But we’re in shape, we wrestled really hard and our kids care. That’s a good starting point.”

For Big Rapids, Nick Worden (135) and DeSaun Griffin (152) placed the highest for the Cardinals by taking third while Brandon Hatchew (103) finished fourth, Aaron Repke placed seventh (119) and Corey Trost finished eighth (103) to give Big Rapids five medalists.

“They’re making progress,” Big Rapids coach Ben Kosmalski said of his team. “I was happy with the way Worden and Griffin came back after a loss in the semis to take third. This tournament had a lot of very good competition.

“It gives you an idea of what you can expect from your kids as the season goes on.”

The Warriors are next scheduled to travel to Mount Pleasant for a tournament on Jan. 3, 2015 while the Cardinals will travel to Shepard for an invitational that same day.

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