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 Photo by Patricia O’Blenes Macomb Dakota junior Nick Alayan grapples with an opponent from Warren De La Salle during a regional semifinal match Feb. 14. Alayan and the Cougars captured a third straight district crown by topping DLS and Anchor Bay High by a combined 121-15 margin.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes Macomb Dakota junior Nick Alayan grapples with an opponent from Warren De La Salle during a regional semifinal match Feb. 14. Alayan and the Cougars captured a third straight district crown by topping DLS and Anchor Bay High by a combined 121-15 margin.

Dakota grapplers capture third straight regional crown

By: Timothy Pontzer | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 20, 2018

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Valentine’s Day proved to be a lovely night out for the Macomb Dakota wrestling team.

The Cougars hosted the team regional finals Feb. 14, winning the two matches by a combined 121-15 score.

The title marked a third straight trip to the state quarterfinals and sixth in the past seven seasons. Dakota defeated New Baltimore Anchor Bay High 61-6 for the regional title. The Cougars opened the bout with three straight pins and a 26-0 run through the first five matches.

“Any time you go against Anchor Bay, they’re going to be tough,” Dakota coach Ed Skowneski said. “When you play against your rival, they’re always going to come to play and you have to have your best. It’s just like Michigan and Michigan State in football. It’s always going to be a good game.”

In the regional semifinal, Dakota won 61-9 over Warren De La Salle in a clash that saw the Cougars jump out to a 61-0 lead.

“All week, we’ve been talking about what our goals were and what it would take to get it done, and we did that today,” Skowneski said. “We have a lot of great guys on our team, and it’s not just the starters. We were able to move guys around and get guys experience in this environment. We’ll be wrestling again as a team in a week, so it was important to get everyone a little bit of mat time.”

Overall, Dakota recorded 11 pins in the two bouts.

“All year long we’ve been keeping track of our pins and techs, telling the guys to go out there and have fun with it by competing with each other,” Skowneski explained. “At the end of the year the teams that have been doing that all year long are the teams wrestling at a high level. We showed we can do that today.”

One of Dakota’s top performers was Layne Malczewski. The senior recorded pins in both of his bouts at 171-pound bouts.

“We’ve been working the whole year to get back to this point,” said Malczewski moments after receiving his medal. “When we lost in the (state) semifinals last year that left a bad taste in our mouth. We obviously want to advance from here and get to the finals.”

Last season saw Dakota record the first win in the state quarterfinals in program history. The Cougars will head to Kalamazoo for the team finals with the quarterfinal match taking place at the Wings Event Center Feb. 23. Seedings and matchups were determined after press time.

“Our goal is to be in that final,” Malczewski said. “We had a bump earlier in the year with Brighton (High), but we’ve faced adversity and made ourselves better.”

That loss to Brighton and a defeat to Novi Detroit Catholic Central are the only blemishes on Dakota’s record this season. The club sits at 29-2 in dual meets. Malczewski went 45-0 for the year, adding to his career total of 210-23.

“We have a very talented group here,” said Malczewski, who is committed to wrestle for Michigan State next season. “Coming in my freshman year, I didn’t think we’d be this good. But we added class by class and once everybody starting working together, we made each other better. Everybody feeds off each other. If one guy is down, we help them up. It’s one big family.”

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