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February 20, 2012

Roseville High wrestling team downs Sterling Heights for regional title, heads to state finals

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Roseville High wrestling coach Davon Gray celebrates with the trophy his squad earned in winning a regional title. In two years as the Panthers’ coach, Gray has led the team to two regional titles.

WARREN — For the third straight year, Roseville High’s wrestling team is going to the state finals.

This year’s finals take place Feb. 24-25 in Battle Creek. Pairings were not available at press time, but can be found on www.mhsaa.com closer to match day.

In the regional final against Sterling Heights High, which had the feel of two totally different matches, the Panthers found themselves in a 22-12 hole after seven matches. Roseville, starting with the 160-pound bout, went on to close the regional final with a 31-6 run on its way to a 43-28 victory and another trip to Battle Creek.

Pins in each of the final three matches capped the comeback.

“It’s a great feeling to see us come back like that,” said 160-pound grappler Alex Mafteiu, who sparked the Roseville run by taking three points and cutting into the Stallions’ lead.

“I knew I needed to go out there and get some points, so I just fought as hard as I could.”

Roseville coach Davon Gray called Mafteiu’s victory a turning point for his team. But that was just one of a number of “swing matches” Gray highlighted. The others — at 171 pounds, 189 pounds and heavyweight — ended in Roseville wins, too.

“We just came together as a team,” said Gray, a Roseville alum who won individual state titles in 1993 and 1994.

“Even when we got down, we just kept going after it and fought our way to a win.”

In the regional semis, Roseville downed Royal Oak 50-19, while Sterling Heights slipped past the University of Detroit Jesuit 37-36.

Sterling Heights High coach Shawn Murray credited the Panthers and added that his team represented the school well on its run.

“We fought hard,” Murray said after the match. “There were just a couple matches I thought we’d get that we didn’t.”

The Panthers will need to continue to fight if they want to bring Roseville a state title. Last year, it lost a quarterfinal match to eventual Division 1 runner-up Novi Detroit Catholic Central.

Gray jokingly said his squad needs to avoid the Shamrocks to win a state title. On a more serious note, the Roseville coach said he uses the regular season to prepare his squad for playoff matches. He added his team is peaking at the right time.

“We’re going to be pretty confident going in, but we’re going to have a good, tough week of practice to get us ready,” Gray said. “We know it’ll be tough, but if we stay together and fight, we can do anything.”

For photos from wrestling regionals and more on Roseville’s run to the state finals, visit www.candg news.com.
 

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.