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 Roseville High’s Noah Clements gets position on his opponent during regional action Feb. 19 at St. Clair Shores Lakeview. Clements won his match by pin.

Roseville High’s Noah Clements gets position on his opponent during regional action Feb. 19 at St. Clair Shores Lakeview. Clements won his match by pin.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Dakota wrestling claims fifth straight regional title

By: Zachary Manning | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published February 25, 2020

 Roseville High’s Josh Specker battles with his opponent at regionals Feb. 19. The Panthers fell to Lakeview 42-39.

Roseville High’s Josh Specker battles with his opponent at regionals Feb. 19. The Panthers fell to Lakeview 42-39.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

ST CLAIR SHORES –– It may be a new year, but nothing has changed in the Macomb Dakota wrestling program.

That was evident by the way the Cougars came out and dominated their way to the program’s fifth straight regional title Feb. 19 at St. Clair Shores Lakeview.

Taking on Lakeview in the regional final, Dakota set the tone right away with a pin from Austen Alkazir at 140 pounds. Dakota finished the match with eight pins and downed the Huskies 66-9 to claim the title.

“It was a great atmosphere today, the kids were wrestling hard,” Dakota coach Ed Skowneski said. “Going into it, we knew we had some tough teams, some tough matchups, and I’m just happy that my guys stepped up to the challenge.”

The Cougars will now advance into D-1 quarterfinal action, which is set to take place Feb. 28-29 at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.

Dakota is no stranger to wrestling in Kalamazoo, and the Cougars always expect to compete when on the biggest stage.

“It’s one of our goals and we hope when we go out there that we wrestle our best, put on a good performance and represent Macomb County well,” Skowneski said.

In front of a raucous home crowd, Lakeview was able to slip by Roseville High 42-39 in the semifinal. The intensity didn’t waiver in the final, with every match just as loud as the other.

“It was really cool. We are blessed with awesome parents, awesome kids. Once in a lifetime experience,” Huskies coach Steve Nicholl said of the atmosphere. “Just to be a part of that, I had fun and I know they did.”

While the season may be coming to an end, Lakeview isn’t going home empty handed. The Huskies won a D-1 district title and took first in the Macomb Area Conference Gold Division.

With that, Nicholl was proud of the way his wrestlers competed against one of the state’s best in Dakota and the way they worked all season long.

“Top to bottom, they busted their (butts) every day,” Nicholl said. “We’re nowhere near as talented as a lot of these teams that we see, and we find a way to win. I like gritty kids. That’s what we are. We’re a tough, gritty bunch.”

Roseville and Lakeview provided the most competitive match of the evening, with the last couple of bouts playing a key role.

The Panthers went down early because of voids, but clawed their way back into the match. After going down 24-6, Roseville came all the way back to take a 33-24 lead with four pins and a decision victory in that stretch.

Lakeview would then respond with a run of its own, getting two pins and a void to lock up the match. For Roseville coach Michael Wilson and the Panthers, the loss stings, but it doesn’t take away all that they were able to accomplish up to this point.

“The past few weeks have been awesome. Our boys have been wrestling great. Just fell a little short,” Wilson said.

Over the last few weeks, the Panthers have played the underdog role. Wilson said his team’s district title was the first one in eight years.

“Everybody counted us out, because our numbers are down, but our boys battled and we pulled out some big upsets last week,” Wilson said.

Dakota took down Fraser High 58-7 in the regional semifinal round, but even with the score being lopsided, Ramblers coach Rick Julien didn’t see his team quit against one of the state’s best.

“I thought we wrestled hard. We didn’t run; we didn’t hide. Lot of good matches,” Julien said. “All in all, I was happy with my team.”

Julien wants to see his grapplers continue to put in work this offseason, and he’s confident he will be able to put a good product on the mat next season.

“We got better and better and better and tougher and tougher and tougher,” Julien said. “We’re young, so don’t count Fraser out.”