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Macomb Township

February 27, 2013

Dakota wrestling season ends at quarterfinals, after making new history for program

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Dakota’s Jake Johnson, top, wrestles with an opponent from Grosse Pointe North during a regional match. The Cougars’ team season ended at the quarterfinals. Johnson is one of four wrestlers from the team who made it to the individual state finals.

Macomb Dakota’s team wrestling season came to an end Feb. 22, as Hartland knocked the Cougars out of the team portion of the season 42-14 during the quarterfinal round in Battle Creek.

With the season now wrapped up, the Cougars can look back and enjoy the new standard they set for the program, including winning Division 1 district and regional titles, both of which were firsts in program history.

“I have a really good group of kids,” said co-coach Ed Skowneski said. “They work extremely hard; they’re dedicated. They want to learn; they want to get better. They set the tone for future teams.”

When a team is part of an unprecedented feat, players and coaches may be able to look back and find there was a turning point somewhere along the way. Sknoneski gave some thought as to when it may have come for his team.

“The first team tournament we had, we wrestled Holt and Rochester. Both teams are very good — ranked ahead of us. We beat both of them. Those two wins allowed the kids to believe it can be done.”

For Skowneski, it’s not too soon to think about what could lie ahead for the program.

“I’m extremely optimistic,” he said. “I already have kids asking me when we’re working out next. These kids got a little taste of success this year. You have to get to the state tournament before you can win a state title. This is just going build into the future. And now these kids know what it’s all about — know what they have to do — and (they’re) extremely hungry to go get it.”

Sal Caruso (103 pounds), Alex Bozinovski (145), Jake Johnson (152) and Antonio Balabani (189) were in action at the individual state finals March 28, after press time, at the Palace of Auburn Hills. For more on the individual finals, log on to our website at www.candgnews.com and see next week’s paper.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.