BATTLE CREEK – It seems like every time Richmond and Dundee meet on the mat, the dual comes down to the last match or two.
That again was the case Saturday at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
And this time the Vikings came out on top, 35-26, in the Division 3 state championship match to end the Blue Devils’ bid for a fourth straight title.
“We just got beat by a good team,” said Richmond coach Brandon Day, whose team ends the season 26-5 overall. “We come into the season and they’re probably 24 points better than us and we’re able to bring it down to the last match.
“That’s a great program,” Day continued. “Tim Roberts is a great coach. They’re a great team, we’re a great team and it came down to the end. I’m so proud of the kids. They’ve worked hard all year. I feel bad for our seniors. We’ll take a week off after (individual finals at) the Palace and then get back to work because it’s going to be us and them again.”
It was the third time in the last four years Richmond and Dundee have met in the finals. The Blue Devils, who beat Whitehall in the semifinals to advance, had won the previous two times.
Dundee finished 23-2.
“I can’t tell you how it feels so different when a match is decided by a few points this way or that way,” Dundee coach Roberts said. “It’s not very many points but it feels like the world.”
Last year, Richmond beat the Vikings, 34-23. In 2010, the Blue Devils won, 24-23.
“It feels good to win,” Roberts said. “We haven’t beat them since 2007 and it was just as close of match. And we’ve lost a tough match like that to them.”
Not many people picked the Blue Devils to do what they did this year after losing a number of seniors from last year’s championship squad.
“What a great dual and how many great duals have we had against each other,” Roberts said. “They do such a good job there. They had so many seniors last year they had to rebuild and to be that good and that strong, that’s one tremendous job of coaching there. That might have been the best job of coaching I’ve ever seen. We were the team that had everyone back and they could have beaten us very easily.”
Dundee took a 29-26 lead with two matches left heading into the 119-pound bout.
Richmond’s Graham Barton got a takedown with 51 seconds left to get to within a point and then immediately let Sean Keilitz back up. The Vikings junior got the next takedown near the end of the period to give his squad a six-point lead heading into the final match.
The Blue Devils then needed a pin by Nick Burg to tie the match and have it decided on criteria. It didn’t happen, despite all of Burg’s efforts, as Brendan O’Connor beat the Richmond junior, 14-8.
“This was exactly like 2007,” said Day, whose squad lost that year to Dundee 29-26. “That was a great group of kids and these are a great group of kids. They’re tough kids, every single one of them. They have nothing to be ashamed about. They’re crying because they worked so hard, they’re not ashamed of their effort. This team is awesome.”
“We’re very happy to win and to beat a team of that caliber,” Roberts said. “I give them all the credit in the world.”
Richmond got wins from Alex Muzljakovich, Austin Cattera, Nate Henke, Devin Skatzka, Jake McKiernan and Aaron Kilburn.
“It sucks,” Skatzka, a sophomore, said. “We could have done a lot of things different to pull it off, but we wrestled good. We worked hard to get here. I’m not surprised at all we got here. I was convinced we were going to win it this year because we worked just that hard.”
It was the 10th time the Blue Devils have reached the finals, winning six titles.
#1 Dundee (23-2) 35, #2 Richmond (26-5) 26
WT D R MATCH RESULT
130 0 6 Alex Muzljakovich (R) fall Logan Grantham (D), 1:12
135 0 9 Austin Cattera (R) dec Donny Mandell (D), 9-6
140 4 9 Doug Rojem (D) maj dec Derek Wilkerson (R), 11-3
145 4 15 Nate Henke (R) fall Sean Marogen (D), 1:45
152 4 19 Devin Skatzka (R) maj dec Liam Grantham (D), 11-0
160 10 19 Todd Olson (D) fall Dalton Yore (R), :1:34
171 13 19 Tye Thompson (D) dec Jordan Adams (R), 8-1
189 19 19 Teddy Warren (D) fall Austin Peltier (R), 1:20
215 19 23 Jake McKiernan (R) dec Jay Sroufe (D), 4-0
285 25 23 John Marogen (D) fall Adam Boyd (R), 1:38
103 25 26 Aaron Kilburn (R) maj dec Kenny Reinhart (D), 10-2
112 29 26 Zach Blevins (D) maj dec Xavier Nuckles (R), 15-2
119 32 26 Sean Keilitz (D) dec Graham Barton (R), 12-8
125 35 26 Brendan O’Connor (D) dec Nick Burg (R), 14-8