Macomb Dakota 140-pound grappler Brandon Alkazir gets his hand raised after a win at a Feb. 13 regional. Alkazir is one of nine Cougars grapplers who will battle at the individual state finals, set for March 1-2 at Ford Field in Detroit.

Macomb Dakota 140-pound grappler Brandon Alkazir gets his hand raised after a win at a Feb. 13 regional. Alkazir is one of nine Cougars grapplers who will battle at the individual state finals, set for March 1-2 at Ford Field in Detroit.

Photo by Sarah Purlee


Dakota wrestling coach looks back on latest run to quarterfinals

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 25, 2019

 Macomb Dakota 160-pound wrestler Eli Andary readies to lock up in a Feb. 13 regional match. The Cougars advanced to the state quarterfinals for the third straight year and fifth time in six seasons.

Macomb Dakota 160-pound wrestler Eli Andary readies to lock up in a Feb. 13 regional match. The Cougars advanced to the state quarterfinals for the third straight year and fifth time in six seasons.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

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In recent matchups, Brighton High has had Macomb Dakota wrestling’s number.

The Bulldogs bested the Cougars in a 2018 Division 1 state semifinal. Brighton earlier in this regular season knocked off Dakota too. 

The Bulldogs’ latest win over the Cougars came in a 60-10 victory in a D-1 quarterfinal in Kalamazoo Feb. 22.

Dakota ends the season with an 18-4 dual meet mark. The Cougars advanced to the state quarterfinals for the fourth straight year.

The Cougars’ accomplishments this season included their second straight Macomb Area Conference Red Division dual meet title. They also won the MAC Red/White Division tournament championship.

“I’m proud of these guys. They’ve come a long way throughout the year,” Dakota coach Ed Skowneski said. “We started shaky and we finished strong. Brighton is a good team. Our guys have to keep their heads held high.

“This group of seniors has been to the quarterfinals four times. When I first started coaching at Dakota, I was preaching that we wanted to make it to (the state quarterfinals). Then that moved to making it to the semifinals. We expected to be there. We’re never just happy to be there. We want to win it. This group of seniors is a good group to put the program in the right direction. They worked hard all offseason and it showed.”

In the quarterfinal, Brighton started with pins in five of the first seven matches to go up 30-10 halfway through the 14-fight bout.

Dakota’s points came from a pin by 112-pounder Brendan Ferretti and a major decision from 125-pounder Justin Tiburcio.

Brighton, which moved to 32-0 on the season with its quarterfinal win, recorded nine pins in the match. Brighton would go on to fall to Novi Detroit Catholic Central in the state final.

“(Brighton) has really talented wrestlers from top to bottom,” Skowneski said. “They’re a well-coached program and well-coached team with a lot of experience.”

The team portion of the schedule may be over, but the Cougars will be well represented at the individual state finals, which take place March 1-2 at Ford Field in Detroit. Dakota will send nine grapplers to the state finals. 

“Our focus is on individuals now. We talked about it a little bit after the (state quarterfinals),” Skowneski said. “We want everybody at practice to get everybody prepared. It’s a lot of these guys’ first trip to the finals. We’ve got good leaders on the team. They know what to expect. We’ll be prepared.”

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