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Royal Oak Wrestlers' Season Ends at Individual Regionals

The Ravens district qualifiers fail to get through to state finals on Saturday at L’Anse Creuse.

HARRISON TOWNSHIP – The Royal Oak High School varsity wrestling team won’t be sending any wrestlers to the state finals in two weeks at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

At the individual regional finals on Saturday at L’Anse Creuse, the Ravens’ five district qualifiers didn’t make it to the top four of their divisions. The top four wrestlers from each weight class all move on to compete at The Palace in state individual finals.

It was the second year in a row the Ravens didn't make it past regionals.

“We didn’t wrestle very good today,” Royal Oak coach Scott Welborn said. “I think we came in a little wide-eyed with the fact that its regionals. Only Tyler (McCullough) was a returner. For the most part, we didn’t wrestle up to our potential.”

McCullough, who was named Patch Athlete of the Week on Friday, gave the Ravens its best chance at qualifying in the 125-pound division. He lost his first match to Adams’ Alex Potoniec in a 12-5 decision.

In the consolation bracket, the senior won a 3-0 decision over Mark Dilaura of Fraser in a really close bout. McCullough maintained a slim 1-0 advantage in the third round where he hit the first takedown of the match with seven seconds to go.

“It was a solid match, he did what he  had to do and really worked for his turns,” Welborn said.

A win in the consolation semifinals over Lake Orion’s Charlie Highlen would’ve put him in the state finals. The two have wrestled a couple of times this season and it was easy to see their familiarity with each other on Saturday.

Neither wrestler wanted to make a mistake early in the match. Highlen went into the third with a 1-0 lead.

With time ticking down, McCullough needed to get to standing to even the score. Highlen wouldn’t give up the advantage and closed out the match with a couple of takedowns to win 6-1.

McCullough’s teammates – senior Joe Ledford, senior Dan Dobras, freshman Cullen Conway and freshman Lee Hewson – all lost their first two matches and were eliminated.

Tough Competition

The L’Anse Creuse regional wasn’t lacking in top competition.

“There’s not a bad wrestler here; this is a really tough site,” Rochester High School coach Frank Lafferty said. “It might be one of the toughest (sites) in the state.”

It makes what his team and Oxford accomplished all the more impressive. The schools won more than half of the regional titles up for grabs on Saturday.

All six Falcons wrestlers made it to the regional finals in their respective weight classes. Rochester was only a takedown away from bringing home six regional championships. 

Kaelan Richards (135), Dean Vettesse (140), Aaron Morgan (145), Justin Kim (103) and Shwan Shadaia (189) all won regional titles.

In overtime, Falcons senior Cody DeVoe lost in the championship match to Utica Eisenhower’s Charlie Myers in a 3-2 decision. The 171-pound finals bout was probably the closest match of the night.

“Great day, great day, better than we expected,” Lafferty said.  “Best we’ve ever done.”

Oxford brought 11 wrestlers to the Division 1 regional and all of them are headed to the state finals. It won four regional championships.

The two undefeated wrestlers in the regional stayed that way. Oxford senior Prescott Line (42-0) won the 215-pound bracket and Stoney Creek senior Nick Gajdzik won the heavyweight division (285).

Last year in the state finals, Line and Gajdzik wrestled for the championship in 215-pound bracket.

Gajdzik moved up a weight class this year and they avoided each other in the regionals. Gajdzik’s teammate Serge Andreou wasn’t so lucky. Line pinned Andreou (1:47) in the regional finals.

Wrestling Regionals Coverage

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