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 Utica Eisenhower’s Reese Willing, left, locks up with Rochester Adams’ Aaron Wildrick in a Division 1 team district semifinal Feb. 12 at Adams. Willing beat Wildrick by a 7-1 decision, but Ike fell to the Highlanders 49-24.

Utica Eisenhower’s Reese Willing, left, locks up with Rochester Adams’ Aaron Wildrick in a Division 1 team district semifinal Feb. 12 at Adams. Willing beat Wildrick by a 7-1 decision, but Ike fell to the Highlanders 49-24.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Eisenhower, Utica High wrestling bow out in district playoffs

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 18, 2020

SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — Playoff time means elimination matches. It means seasons ending earlier than some would hope. That was the case for both the Utica Eisenhower and Utica High wrestling teams Feb. 12 in Division 1 district tournaments hosted by Rochester Adams and Utica Ford II, respectively.

Eisenhower fell 49-24 to Adams, which would go on to beat Rochester Hills Stoney Creek 39-36 in a district final.

After receiving a first-round bye, Utica faced Ford in the district final, but the Macomb Area Conference Blue Division champions dropped a close match 36-33. The Chieftains ended the season at 9-7 overall and 5-0 in the MAC Blue.

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

Utica’s Santino Dinoto (103 pounds), Nikko Simovski (125), Michael Bahoura (140) and Nick Kola (285) were all able to pin their opponents. Zach Dries (215), Tahami Waris (119) and Hunter Ali (145) all earned victories via decision.

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

Eisenhower coach David Drath said this season was a disappointment from a wins-and-losses perspective, but the Eagles were a fun group to be around. Ike finished at 0-7 overall and 0-5 in the MAC White Division.

“It’s a great group of kids, no problems in school. At the end of the day, I think that’s more important than wins and losses,” the coach said. “They’re good kids and they’re good to be around. When you don’t win many dual meets, that becomes the important part.”

To start off the match, Ike’s Ian Guisinger won via pin in 23 seconds at 103 pounds. In the next match, Reese Willing beat his opponent 7-1 at 112 pounds.

The other Eisenhower victory came from 130-pounder Hayden Willing by a 6-5 decision. The Eagles also won two matches by void.

“This is our third time wrestling Adams this year. I was really hoping to do better,” Drath said. “We learned more about how they wrestle and we worked on combating that. It just didn’t seem to come through.”

With 14 freshmen on the team and more kids coming up through junior programs, Drath said the future is bright for Eagles wrestling. The key, however, will be making sure the majority of those 14 freshmen see their senior year on the wrestling team.