Warren Woods Tower's Jajuan Lovejoy, right, was one of two grapplers to earn pins in the state semifinal.

Warren Woods Tower's Jajuan Lovejoy, right, was one of two grapplers to earn pins in the state semifinal.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

Tower wrestling ends season with semifinal loss to Gaylord

Titans finish season at 26-6 overall

By: Timothy Pontzer | Warren Weekly | Published February 24, 2018

KALAMAZOO — Bonus points proved to be the difference and downfall for Warren Woods Tower wrestling.

The Titans fell 41-27 to Gaylord High in the Division 2 state semifinals Feb. 24 at Wings Event Center.

Both sides won seven bouts, but the Blue Devils notched six pins and a technical decision, ending the contest with three straight six-point falls.

"It's tough, you have kids that are unfamiliar with the situation," Tower coach Greg Mayer said. "This is the first time they're wrestling on this stage. It's an experience, really a learning curve. Sometimes you try to do too much, so this was a good learning experience for some of our young guys. I believe they'll have the opportunity to do this again."

Tower earned pins from junior Chaise Mayer at 130 pounds and senior Jajuan Lovejoy at 160. Lovejoy's six-pointer gave the Titans a 27-23 lead with three bouts left. In the subsequent 171 battle, Tower junior Kullen Geoffrey held a 7-1 lead in the second period, but a Gaylord comeback and shoulder injury to Geoffrey resulted in a pin.

"That one was tough both ways," Gaylord coach Jerry LaJoie said. "The kid's shoulder popped out so we were worried about that. He caught his breath and came back, but he's great on top. We we're lucky to get that one. Tower is an awesome team. They have state medalists every year and are very well coached by Mayer. We wrestled really well today and got a few breaks to go our way."

The loss dropped Tower to 26-6 for the season. Mayer took pride in the way the campaign played out.

"We would like to win, we just didn't do enough," Mayer remarked. "This sport is really a vehicle to teach young men how to be successful in life. I think we've managed to do that and that makes it worth it. Seeing these guys commit real hard and commit to something bigger themselves, you know they can do great things. We're not going to quantify our success based on wins and losses or where we finish, but instead by the type of young men we put out."

Mayer said he is proud of the young men set to graduate this season, a group of seven seniors that he called crucial to the program's success. This season's finish marked a third straight appearance in the state final weekend, with Tower losing to Gaylord in the 2015 quarterfinals and falling last year in the state finals to Lowell High.

"When these guys were freshmen, we had a bunch of seniors that didn't come back out for the team," Mayer explained. "That was a team that we thought was going to be returning to the state championships. It thrust a lot of these current seniors into roles they weren't quite ready for. I'm happy they got to reap the rewards of that and see some results, knowing that perseverance and persistence pays off."

For eight Titans, the year is not quite over as they will compete in the individual state finals March 2-3 at Ford Field in downtown Detroit.

"Some of these guys will probably have rematches from here," Mayer said. "We're really looking forward to it. This loss can be used as fuel."