By: Butch Harmon
Alma wrestlers to face Whitehall in quarterfinals in Division 3 team finals
By GREG CHRAPEK
ALMA – If making the wrestling team state finals for the first time in school history last year the Alma wrestling team wasted little time in making the return trip to Kalamazoo.
Riding the momentum of an epic comeback in the regional championship match against Lakewood-Lake Odessa, Alma is back in the Division 3 final eight at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. Alma, seeded sixth in this year’s bracket, faces Whitehall, the No. 3-seed, in Friday’s quarterfinal round scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
Alma is led into this year’s finals by its five individual state qualifiers. Sophomore Demetrius Castillo (119 pounds) is a defending state champion who brings a 32-4 record into this year’s finals. Jarrett Ferman (135) has a 32-3 record and is coming off an individual regional championship. Solomon Rosales (125) and Josiah Baltierra (130) have both won over 25 matches this season and provide the Panthers with an outstanding group of wrestlers from 119 through 135 pounds. Justin VanBlaricum has 28 wins this season and placed second at the individual regional.
Alma also boasts five more wrestlers that were regional qualifiers including Dominic Anguanio (112) who has 25 wins this season, Harrison Seeley (119) who has 24 wins, Adam Garcia (135) who has 23 wins, Jacob Munger (145) who has 24 wins and Norman Davis (189) who has 21 wins.
Alma needed all that firepower in its regional title match against Lakewood-Lake Odessa. Trailing 33-6, Alma wrestlers won the final eight matches to come away with a thrilling 38-33 win.
Whitehall enters the match with a stacked lineup that includes 10 individual state qualifiers. Kayleb Venema (189), a returning state placer, leads the way as he enters the finals with a 40-2 record after winning a regional title last weekend. Ira Jenkins (152) also won a regional title last weekend and brings a 34-6 record to the team finals.
Whitehall flexed its muscles at the team regional with a 54-9 win against Comstock Park in the regional title match.
Trenton Blanchard (160) and Allen Powers (215) both placed second at the individual regional and have 34 and 37 wins respectively. The Whitehall lineup also includes state qualifiers Aidan Weiler (103), Max Brown (125), Jacob Haynes (135), Marco Moore (140), Kyler Honore (145) and Jarrean Sargeant (215).
High School Sports Scene will be covering this year’s team state and providing updates throughout the day on both Friday and Saturday. Check out High School Sports Scene’s coverage at www.highschoolsportsscene.com or on our Facebook page at High School Sports Scene.