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Hartland wrestlers take KLAA Individual Championship WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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WL Central fourth; Kettering, Mott in top 10

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HOWELL - The hurt was on at Saturday’s KLAA Individual wrestling championships at Howell High School, where wrestlers felt the pain both physically and emotionally.

Physically, such as South Lyon’s Brandon Buchler, who was in pain after taking an accidental slam, eventually leaving the mat with assistance and an ice bag taped to his back.

Emotionally such as Hartland's team, who only a few days ago attended the funeral of teammate Joey Livingston’s dad a few days ago.

But the Eagles gathered themselves and won the KLAA title, scoring 254 points to finish ahead of runnerup Westland John Glenn, who scored 248.5, Brighton (208.5) and Walled Lake Central (193). Waterford Kettering was seventh with 105 and Waterford Mott placed eighth with 85.5, just ahead of South Lyon (79) and Lakeland (63).

Livingston wound up winning the 160-pound title, joining teammates Reece Hughes (145), Tanner Culver (140) and Andrew Spisz (189) in the victory circle for Hartland, the defending Division 1 team state champion.

The title was a bonus for a squad who had lost a dual meet to Walled Lake Central and felt the pain of a teammate’s hurt. The Eagles were still missing athletes out of the lineup on Saturday, but forged on nevertheless.

“We’ve had a difficult week,” said Hartland coach Todd Cheney, putting into perspective every day life occurences while recalling the emotional drain on the squad. “The effort we put forth was incredible. They had a little bit different focus today.”

Corey Cavanaugh (112), Kyle Kantola (119), River Shettler (152) each placed second as Hartland scored top-eight finishers in 10 of 14 weight classes.

Walled Lake Central was missing its biggest contributor in three-time KLAA and state champion Ben Freeman, whose bout with the flu kept him out of the tournament. “He was bummed,” said coach Al Freeman, Ben’s dad, who thought the Vikings could be in the title mix with him in the lineup.

As it was, Nick Freeman, Ben’s younger brother, won the 135-pound title with a 5-1 victory over Westland John Glenn’s Anthony Gibson, and teammate Warren Stanfield took the 130-pound title after beating Waterford Mott’s Max Katsiroubas 9-1. Nick Onwenu was second at 189, Josh Jernagan third at 160, Sam Freeman was fourth at 103, TJ Daugherty was fourth at 112, and Joe Bakkal (119) and Liam Kinjorski (152) were each fifth among the Vikings.

“It feels really good, my first league title in the KLAA,” said Stanfield, who came over from North Farmington after his junior season.

Mott’s Erik Arnegard, who recently notched his 100th career victory, placed third at 152. Along with Mathias Dahl, who finished fifth at 171, and the Corsairs had their highest finish ever in the KLAA meet.

“It’s been a phenomenal day for the whole team,” said Arnegard, who finished with a pair of major decisions and a pin for his day’s tally.

Buchler, who earned third place by injury default, went to the mat hard, and spent about five minutes being treated by athletic trainers. “On my back, right above the tailbone,” he said of his landing. “They say it’s good because I can walk, but they said I should get an X-ray.”

Grand Blanc’s Donald Moses apologized to Buchler for the accidental slam.

Heavyweight Stone Ruffin (fifth) and 215-pounder Justin Fadler (fifth) also earned points for South Lyon.

Waterford Kettering’s Mark Brado, who placed second at 103 after losing a close 9-7 decision to Grand Blanc’s Brody Kemper, was the highest finisher for the Captains, who also had Anthony Gonzalez place third at 140 and Alex Dorcey, who beat Milford’s top placer, Marc Sclabassi, third at 171.

Mike Jacobs placed fourth at 160 for Lakeland and teammate Nolan Klapec, fourth at 125 due to an injury default, also helped the Eagles' cause.

Lakeland coach James Tippin marveled at the degree of difficulty at the KLAA meet. “It’s some of the best (competition) in the state, almost as tough as the state meet,” he said.

Last Updated: 2/4/2017 8:23:56 PM EST

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