Macomb Dakota wrestling competed in the Division 1 state quarterfinals for the fifth straight year. Pictured, 145-pounder Joey Papas has his hand raised after a Feb. 19 regional round win.

Macomb Dakota wrestling competed in the Division 1 state quarterfinals for the fifth straight year. Pictured, 145-pounder Joey Papas has his hand raised after a Feb. 19 regional round win.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Dakota wrestling coach looks back at another state finals

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published March 4, 2020

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KALAMAZOO — The Macomb Dakota wrestling program over the last half of a decade has established itself as one of the best in Division 1 in the state.

That continued this season, as the Cougars won a fifth straight D-1 regional title and advanced to the state quarterfinals, where they squared off Feb. 28 with three-time defending state champ Novi Detroit Catholic Central.

The Cougars battled valiantly before falling 58-16 in the quarterfinal bout.   

“I’m proud of how we competed,” Dakota coach Ed Skowneski said. “Last time we wrestled Catholic Central they shut us out, so being able to win three matches and be right there in a lot of others was good to see.

“(Catholic Central) is a really good team. Our kids went out and had fun, and competed.”

Dakota (20-9 overall) following the 140-pound bout cut the Shamrocks’ lead to 26-16 by way of a pin from Sal Tundis. Catholic Central won the final six bouts to secure the win.

The Cougars got pins from 119-pounder Brendan Ferretti, who won a 2019 individual state title, and Tundis. Dakota 130-pounder Brad Weiand scored a major decision win in his bout.

“It was great to see (Tundis and Ferretti) score those pins,” Skowneski said. “They’re both hard workers and captains on the team. That kept the crowd in it and kept our guys motivated. Both of those scores came at a good time.”

The team portion of the season is over for the Cougars, but 11 Dakota grapplers will take to the mats at Ford Field for the individual state finals, set for March 6-7.

Skowneski said he’s proud of where the program is at this point. It’s now expected that Dakota wrestling will compete for a state title on an annual basis, he said.

“We want to get to the (state) semifinals and finals, and ultimately win a state title,” Skowneski said. “Each year, we have a great group of seniors who instill that mentality in the younger guys. It’s a continuous cycle.”

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