Ishpeming’s Willey scores last-second win to reach state

ROGERS CITY – They call it the blood round.

It’s the consolation semifinals, when the winner goes on to place and advance to the MHSAA individual state wrestling finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills, while the loser heads back home with his season – and sometimes his high school career – over.

Ishpeming sophomore Johnathan Willey was down 6-4 in his 135-pound blood round match against Iron Mountain senior Tanner Chouinard with under 10 seconds left and faced with going back to Ishpeming with a tough loss.

“I had to try something,” Willey said. “I told myself, ‘I gotta do something to win this match.'”

That’s when Chouinard lunged at him with four seconds left, giving Willey his opportunity to strike.

“It’s ironic, because every (opposing) coach says, he knows the headlock, don’t go into him,” Willey said.

Willey countered with a front headlock throw, getting two points for a takedown and three points for a near fall as the clock expired, giving Willey the 9-4 win and earning him his first trip to The Palace. He was pinned by Hart’s Klayton Ruggles in 2:56 in the consolation final.

Westwood had two wrestlers come down to the wire in the blood round. Senior David Lancour needed a stalling call on Rudyard’s Cory Gillett with less than 10 seconds remaining to advance in the heavyweight division with a 9-8 win. He lost a 6-2 decision to Traverse City St. Francis’ Jake Khoury in the consolation final.