L’Anse Creuse grappler looks to become program’s latest state champ

By: Jason Carmel Davis | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published March 4, 2015

 Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse senior 119-pound grappler Brendan Hazelton enters the state finals with a 54-1 record. Hazelton is pictured during a Feb. 21 regional tournament.

Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse senior 119-pound grappler Brendan Hazelton enters the state finals with a 54-1 record. Hazelton is pictured during a Feb. 21 regional tournament.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse senior 119-pound wrestler Brendan Hazelton is looking to join a select group of grapplers from the school when he takes the mat for the 2015 Division 1 state finals, set for March 5-7 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Hazelton, 54-1, is trying to become the sixth wrestler from L’Anse Creuse to win a state title. He hopes to join Pete D’Luge (1972), Chad Biggert (1990), Tom Aceto (1999), Eric Neil (2002, 2003) and Cameron Amateis (2008, 2009) on the list of L’Anse Creuse wrestlers to end a season ranked No. 1.

This is Hazelton’s third trip to the state finals. He finished fifth at 112 pounds last year, earning All-State honors. The senior won his weight

class at a regional Feb. 21 at Oxford. Earlier this winter, Hazelton won his weight class at the 2014 Macomb County Wrestling Invitational. He also won a county title in 2013.

Hazelton enters as the No. 5 seed at 119 pounds. There are 16 wrestlers in each weight class who make the state finals. The top eight placers earn All-State honors.

“This year is different. I have my highest-ever seed, which means I have an easier road, I guess, and a better chance to win it,” said Hazelton, whose only loss came to a wrestler on a D-2 team.

“I’m going into it with a goal of winning a state title.”

Hazelton said he feels he’s pushed himself harder than before. He and L’Anse Creuse coach David Prince have traveled from school to school looking for the best competition in preparation for the state finals.

Prince said he’s not teaching Hazelton anything new in the days leading up to the state finals. He said, at this point in the year, it comes down to the wrestler.

“I just try to help him keep the good habits he’s built up the last four years as a varsity wrestler,” said Prince, who began coaching Hazelton when he was in the sixth grade. “Mindset is huge, too. (The state finals) can become physically draining. We’re just trying to stay positive and have a good outlook on what’s to come.”

Hazelton said coaching is huge in the state finals. He said Prince is very helpful.

“He’s out there giving me instructions as loud as he can,” Hazelton said. “His voice is very distinctive.”

The senior grappler said he’s working on footwork leading up to his last prep state final. He’s come to realize that scoring the first point often leads to winning a match at the state finals — a venue where pin falls can be few and far between.

“If I can get the first point with my feet, I’ll feel pretty secure, because at the state finals, you’re in a lot of grind-it-out matches,” Hazelton said. “There’s a lot of 3-1, 3-2 final scores. I just have to be active the entire match.”

Hazelton is hopeful for another strong showing in Auburn Hills. He said it still hasn’t hit him yet that he has a chance to go out as a state champion.

“I’m just going to go out and wrestle my best and see where that takes me,” Hazelton said. “All my time wrestling comes down to this one weekend. Three days. It’s a lot of pressure, but it’s not as crazy as it was before.”

For more coverage of the state wrestling finals, check www.mhsaa.com and www.candgnews.com.

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