Utica Ford II wrestling upends Utica High, wins second straight district title

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Online Only | Published February 12, 2020

 The Utica Ford wrestling team beat Utica High 36-33 on Feb. 12 to win a second straight Division 1 district title.

The Utica Ford wrestling team beat Utica High 36-33 on Feb. 12 to win a second straight Division 1 district title.

Photo by Jason Carmel Davis

STERLING HEIGHTS — The Utica Ford II and Utica High wrestling squads engaged in a battle in a Division 1 district final Feb. 12 at Ford, and it was nail-biter.

The Chieftains entered the last of the 14 bouts with a 33-31 edge after winning two straight matches to erase a 31-24 Falcons lead. Ford 152-pounder Gary Nilson, who eclipsed the 100-win mark earlier this season, built a 15-0 lead on his way to a technical fall win, giving the Falcons a 36-33 win and a second straight district title.

“I knew what I had to do,” Nilson said. “I was amped early on. Coach calmed me down and let me know all I had to do was win the match. This is big for us. We didn’t have a lot of success in dual meets, so to win another district title is great for the program.”

Ford advances to meet the winner of a Rochester Adams district in a D-1 regional semifinal Feb. 19 at a time and site to be determined.

Falcons coach Scott Scalici called the win a great team effort. He said the squad was down some wrestlers due to injury. The Ford coach commended the grapplers who stepped in.

“We got a lot from some guys who stepped up in a big spot,” Scalici said. “Without some of those efforts, we don’t win the match.

“Having (Nilson) there at the end — it was good. We just needed him to score and not do too much else.”

Utica coach Clint Davis commended his team for its effort in the bout. The match saw two ties and four lead changes.

“These guys have worked really hard all year. To see them come out here and fight how they did is great,” Davis said. “We felt like we gave ourselves a shot. We knew what (Ford) had coming. Nilson is a tough wrestler.

“We had a couple freshmen in the lineup and a junior who’s a .500 wrestler, and they fought hard. I’m proud of the guys.”

Scalici acknowledged the team made some sacrifices in the regular season so the team was ready for the postseason. The squad’s dual meet record isn’t as good as the Falcons would like, but the team reached one goal in winning a district championship.

“We sacrifice some team success to get the guys ready for the individual playoffs,” Scalici said, “but (winning a district title) was definitely a goal. We did it last year. We wanted to go back to back and at least get to a regional final. So this is good for the program.”