Warren Woods Tower tops DeWitt High with dramatic comeback

The Titans will face Niles High in the semifinals

By: Timothy Pontzer | Warren Weekly | Published February 24, 2017

MOUNT PLEASANT — With only three matches remaining in the Division 2 state quarterfinals, Warren Woods Tower was headed to its first loss of the season.

After a quick pin at 215 pounds, the Titans were down 33-18. The No. 2 seed in the tournament, Tower needed a major comeback to stave off an upset by DeWitt High.

In the span of roughly 10 minutes in real-time, Tower saved its season, closing out the contest with a 17-0 run to improve to a perfect 27-0 on the year.

"I didn't doubt it, I believe in these guys," said Tower coach Greg Mayer. "More importantly, they believe in each other. If it is mathematically possible, I'll give us a chance every single time."

The rally started with senior Nathan Pipes delivering a pin at heavyweight.

"I felt that pressure, but I feel like I came in just as good as I could," Pipes said. "It was an intense match, with a great finish. Going out there I knew that my team needed me. Being the only senior that didn't make it out of the individual state tournament, this is the greatest moment of my life. I'm so happy I could do this for my team."

The Titans are sending a school-record 11 grapplers to The Palace of Auburn Hills next weekend, but Pipes fell short in regionals. His coach praised his senior for delivering.

"I'm very, very proud of him," Mayer said. "I'm very proud of the way he went out there and allowed himself to be a part of something that is bigger than just him. There is a lot of time, blood, sweat and tears invested by him, and I'm so happy he was able to come through."

Pipes' pin was followed by another fall, this time from sophomore David Stepanian at 103. That narrowed the deficit to 33-30, meaning a major decision or better was needed for the win.

Mayer's nephew, Chaise Mayer came through, earning a 20-4 victory that earned a technical fall and five points to cap off an improbable comeback.

"We had a lot of things not go the way we planned," Chaise Mayer said. "We were down, but we knew it was possible. We knew we had the right guys, and we always believe. I knew what I needed to do. There were times of doubt for sure, but I believed in the hard work we put in."

Tower advances to the first state semifinal in program history. Things looked bleak for the Titans following an upper-body injury to sophomore Keef O'Connell in the 145-pound bout. O'Connell was forced to withdraw, surrendering six points to kick off a 17-0 DeWitt run.

"We certainly didn't expect to give up six in that match," Greg Mayer said. "Giving up the bonus points there, (DeWitt) did a great job of capitalizing and building momentum. Most teams have struggled to do that so far against us, because we really don't give up bonus points in dual meets. But at that point, we saw our opponent take advantage."

The coach admitted that his team was not used to being in that position during its unblemished campaign, but like his wrestlers, he never had any doubt.

"There were lots of ups and downs," Greg Mayer said. "We just had to stay even-keeled. For some of our guys, that may be the first time watching three or four losses back to back. However, they believe in each other and the team concept."

The Titans advance to face Niles High at 11:30 a.m. on Feb. 25, the No. 6 seed that upset St. John's High 36-26.

"I knew from my freshman year, this is what I wanted the most, a team state championship," Pipes said. "We have two more duals to do it."

On the other side of the D-2 bracket, No. 1 seed Lowell High defeated Tecumseh High 41-20. No. 4 Marysville High topped Allendale High 37-16.