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Richmond prevails in another classic PHOTO GALLERY

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Blue Devils make a habit of finals drama

MOUNT PLEASANT >> With every team state wrestling championship Richmond wins comes a memorable reason how or why it happened.

And that was again the case Saturday night at McGuirk Arena on the campus of Central Michigan University.

The Blue Devils’ eighth Division 3 state title was decided by Criteria H, total first points scored in all 14 bouts, to break a 28-28 tie with Dundee.

“We’re very blessed, but we also pay attention to detail,” said Richmond coach Brandon Day, who started as a co-head coach in 2003 with the Blue Devils. “We don’t leave any stone unturned.

“Like every year, no matter if we win a state title or not, the next Monday after the individual tournament all the kids are in the weight room getting ready football and wrestling,” Day added. “We’ll have 30 kids in there and talking about our lineup next year and what it’s going to take to win it.”

The Blue Devils were on cruise control in their first two state title wins, beating Brooklyn Columbia Central (41-21) in 2000 and in 2002 dismantling Constantine (37-17).

In 2006, it all started with a first period pin by Jeff Schweiger over Roscommon’s Joey Schneider at 125 pounds. Schneider was a defending state champ.

“We got on a roll and pinned the heck out of them from that point,” Day said.

The Blue Devils opened up a 30-0 lead and cruised to a 49-20 victory.

In 2010 there were two memorable moments.

First, Dominic Cattera was losing going into the third period against Dundee’s Nathan Wade and scored three unanswered points to knock off the state runner-up. Then, Casey Martin fought off his back to avoid giving up a technical fall as Richmond edged the Vikings, 24-23.

In 2011, it was three straight wins, started by Eric Boyd and exclamation points added by Robert Clancy and Greg Sebastian with pins to erase a 22-15 deficit against Lake Fenton and propelling them to a 33-22 win.

In 2012, Austin Vannatter started a string of three straight wins, the last were pins from Nick Burg and Stephen Ireland, to erase a 23-18 deficit and knock off Dundee, 34-23.

In 2015, Connor Behem, who had his knee lock up during a morning workout, followed up a pin from Roy Costello with a stick of his own at 112 pounds as the Blue Devils topped two-time defending Division 3 champ Dundee, 27-25, in come-from-behind fashion. Adam Boyd started the comeback with a decision at 285.

This year, Eric Barr beat the third ranked wrestler in the state, Dundee’s Alex Motylinski, 3-2 at 152 and Hayden Bastian used a desperation move in order to score a deciding two-point takedown and send the outcome to criteria.

“The kids and my staff put in an unbelievable amount of work,” Day said. “I have the best coaching I’ve ever had, all former Richmond guys, all extremely loyal.

“We win them in a bunch of different ways because we prepare for all of them,” Day added. “It’s monotonous at times, but we’re prepared for all of them.”

During the time leading up to Saturday’s criteria decision, Day had assistant coach Preston Trend call the architect of Richmond wrestler, George Hamblin, to see how the criteria broke down.

“I knew most of it, but George is like the rain man of criteria,” Day joked. “I was staring in the stands looking for him and then he just appeared. Our AD Chris Rinehart said George levitated in and he levitated right out.”

Last Updated: 2/26/2017 4:53:08 PM EST