By David Troppens
Linden — The Linden varsity wrestling team is earning its share of hardware lately.
Last weekend, the Eagles won the Flint Metro League Stripes Division championship. On Thursday, in front of a home crowd, the Eagles defeated Lake Fenton (36-33) in the semifinals and then Fenton (43-27) in the district title match to earn a Division 2 team wrestling district tournament championship.
The Holly Bronchos also won a district title at Ortonville-Brandon High School, beating the Blackhawks 51-22 in the Bronchos’ district title match. Both teams will compete in the Goodrich team regional Wednesday. Linden will face Croswell-Lexington and Holly will face Goodrich in the semifinal matches. The winners of those two matches will compete in the regional title match to be played that same night.
“It means everything,” Linden varsity wrestler Uzziah Delgado said about the district title. “We’ve been working for this ever since (Linden varsity wrestling coach) Kyle (Summerfield) has been our coach. We’ve worked hard to win a district title. It just means we’ve worked hard, but we put the work in the room.”
“We have a goal and it’s a great accomplishment, along with the Metro, but we still have work to do,” senior wrestler Colton Powell said. “We are a family. We fight like a family and we love like a family. We are a family.”
The Fenton Tigers faced Linden for the title match. Fenton was as close as 33-27 after a Jackson Cairnduff (285) pinfall win. However, Linden won the final three matches to lock up the victory. Tyler McCabe (103) won by pinfall, Michael Lescelius (112) won by major decision and Brenden Shingleton (119) won by pinfall.
Linden never trailed. Bryce Shingleton (125) won the first match by pinfall and the Eagles held on to the lead the rest of the way. Other Linden victors were Clark Ray (135), Jaylon Berry (145), James Roti (152) and Wyatt Gocha (215) by pinfall; and Delgado (160) by decision.
Fenton’s other winners were Kyle Dunfield (130) by decision, Dylan Beverly (140) by pinfall, Login Fuller (171) by pinfall and Lukas Zywicki (189) by pinfall.
“This group is outstanding,” Fenton varsity wrestling coach Brad Beverly said. “Every day is a new adventure with them and they’ve battled. They came up short today, but if a couple of matches went the other way, we were right in it.”
The Blue Devils gave the Eagles a strong battle. The semifinal match was tied at 15-15. Both teams won four matches the rest of the way, but all of Linden’s wins earned bonus points. Roti (152) won by major decision, Delgado (160) won by pinfall, Gocha (189) won by pinfall and Tyler McCabe (103) won by pinfall. That pinfall was the match-clinching victory.
Other early winners for Linden were Bryce Shingleton (119) by pinfall, Ray Clark (130) by decision and Ethan Soff (135) by forfeit.
Lake Fenton won half of the matches. Those winning by pinfall were Jack Conley (125) and Gregory Campbell (140).The other Lake Fenton winners were Gavin Lawrence (145) by decision, Hunter Devasher (171) by decision, Zolen Marron (215) by forfeit, Ethan McCrate (285) by decision and Ty Johnson (112) by forfeit.
“They just gave the best effort I could possibly ask them for,” Lake Fenton varsity wrestling coach Vance Corcoran said. “They did exactly what we needed them to do. They got their pins and they got their bonus points. The tough matches, we kept them close. We didn’t give up pins and techs and we won the close ones and that’s what we needed to do. Losing 36-33 with the conference champs that beat us by 30 points earlier this year, that just shows the improvement of our program, how hard these kids work and how well these coaches work with these kids, ... I couldn’t be more proud of them today.”
But the team of the night was Linden.
“It’s all the kids,” Summerfield said. “They work their butt off every day. The way they pull together and work for each other, you can’t teach it. Every bit of our success is due to those kids. I couldn’t be prouder of them the way they worked. We have a lot more in the tank.”