Walled Lake Western wins D-1 wrestling district

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published February 12, 2020

 The Walled Lake Western wrestling team poses for a photo after winning a D-1 district title Feb. 12. Regionals are set for Feb. 19.

The Walled Lake Western wrestling team poses for a photo after winning a D-1 district title Feb. 12. Regionals are set for Feb. 19.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

 West Bloomfield High's Demetrie Ruiz takes down his opponent Feb. 12. Ruiz won his match by pin.

West Bloomfield High's Demetrie Ruiz takes down his opponent Feb. 12. Ruiz won his match by pin.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

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WALLED LAKE –– After a pair of dominating performances in the semifinals, Walled Lake Western and West Bloomfield High were set to battle for a Division 1 district wrestling title Feb. 12 at Western.

West Bloomfield went down 12-0 early, thanks to two voids to open the match. But the Lakers quickly worked themselves back into the match and stayed there throughout.

The Warriors held a 30-23 lead heading into the 160-pound match, and the Lakers needed some momentum. Ralph Rogers gave the Lakers just the spark they needed, pinning his opponent late in the match.

Following that up was Devon Isaac at 171 pounds, who won his match 9-2, giving West Bloomfield its first lead at 32-30.

With just three weight classes remaining, Western had seen its early double-digit lead turn into a deficit.

But the match was far from over. With the home crowd behind them, the Warriors picked up the intensity and finished the job. The Warriors closed the district final with three straight pins, securing a 48-32 victory.

And for a program that has been eying a title, it was a long time coming.

“We haven’t had a district title in 18 years,” Warriors coach George Hajal said. “We’re fortunate, we’re healthy, we got each other. I’m kind of speechless.”

The Warriors will now move on to regionals, which were scheduled for Feb. 19. There was no opponent or location available at press time.

Hajal is confident in his group and believes they will compete in the regional round.

“I feel great. We had our ups and downs throughout the year, but once we start rolling, we do well,” Hajal said. 

West Bloomfield got by North Farmington in the district semifinal round before falling to Western. 

“We’re proud of how we wrestled today. Pins killed us, obviously, at the end the last three guys getting pinned” West Bloomfield coach Greg Alessi said. “I thought we wrestled good. We didn’t give up and had some young kids come through.

Even with the season coming to an end, Alessi had some optimism about the young grapplers in his program. He returns a solid core next season.

“About six of our varsity kids are first-year kids,” Alessi said. “It’s exciting knowing they're coming back and they got a full year of varsity experience under their belt.”

For North Farmington, the loss hurts, but it can be used as a learning experience for a young group. Coach Robert Mathieson is excited about the future of the program.

“I think going forward over the next two or three years, we’re going to be looking a little bit different. I’m proud of the way that they’re taking what we’re teaching,” Mathieson said.

Western was able to knock off Walled Lake Central in the opening round of districts, but Central found some positives, collecting two pins in the match.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s and Walled Lake Northern scores were not available at press time.

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