MHSAA wrestling: Westwood erases early deficit to capture Division 4 team district title

ISHPEMING – With a little help from the draw, the Westwood wrestling team saved its best for last on Thursday.

The Patriots won six of the final seven matches to erase Ishpeming’s early 18-point advantage and capture the MHSAA Division 4 team district championship, 46-27, in the Hematites’ gym.

Following semifinal matches that both Westwood and Ishpeming won, a random draw determined what weight class the finale would begin with.

And it just happened that the 135-, 140- and 145-pounders who were first up are the heart of Ishpeming’s strength.

Juniors Johnathan Willey (135) and Dylan Giuchin (140) and senior Jordan Tousignant (145) didn’t disappoint for the Hematites, all three achieving pins before the first period of their matches was over.

Then came the big guns for Westwood, led by seniors Josh Argall (152 pounds), Tyler Villenueve (160), Cooper Guidebeck (189) and Trevor Swanson (125).

Argall scored a major decision over Dominic Suardini, 10-1, to get the Patriots on the board before Villeneuve, Guidebeck and Swanson all got pins.

Villeneuve scored his pin over Fredrik Sidh with just four seconds to go in the match, while Guidebeck got his with four seconds remaining in the first period.

“That was a couple of nice breaks (Westwood) made for themselves,” IHS coach Tim Hares said, who added that while this is the second straight year Westwood defeated his team in the district finals, he loses just five seniors and only one with four years experience in the program, Tousignant.

Westwood head coach Dan Carlson admitted having some worries after the early deficit in the finals, especially after a pair of his stalwarts lost matches in the opening meet against Munising.

Argall had a lead against Mustangs freshman Brad Cota, but got caught on a move and was thrown on his back and pinned late in the second period, while Nora, a freshman, was pinned late in the first period by fellow frosh Zach McGowen of Munising.

Both Westwood wrestlers turned it around for victories in the championship round.

“We have seven freshman, so we knew we had an uphill battle, but we showed a lot of heart,” MHS coach Bob Miles said. “Cota is a ‘veteran’ freshman, he’s been wrestling for a long time, while McGowen just lost two weeks ago to Nora, so it was good to see him turn the tables.”

However, Westwood had more than enough, winning seven other contested matches and picking up three forfeits to easily post a 53-18 victory.

In the other semifinal, Ishpeming had overwhelming numbers against Gwinn, which had just four wrestlers available as just one division was contested – junior Alec VanHorn got a second-period pin of sophomore Trevor Kirkpatrick-Bray at 285.

Back in the championship match, Westwood didn’t clinch the title until the second-to-last match, when Swanson used a key reversal to pin freshman Daren Giuchin late in the second period.

He had to drop weight in the last few days to make the 125-pound cutoff, otherwise the team would’ve forfeited that class. He may well be back at his usual 130 this weekend for the individual districts to be held in Newberry.

“I made it to regionals last year, so I’m hoping I can get to states (finals) this year,” Swanson said.

Possibly the most entertaining match was at 215, where Westwood sophomore Trent Deans and Ishpeming senior Mitch Laurin were throwing each other around like they were in the 103 class. At one point, the pair pulled each other about 20 feet off the mat, luckily into an area where no one was seated.

Deans won by pinning Laurin, who doesn’t get to participate a lot because of his basketball duties, late in the second period.

“Trent is like a cat out there, he’s got great endurance and focus,” Carlson said.

Westwood advances to Wednesday’s team regionals in Manistique, while wrestlers from all four of Thursday’s combatants will be in Newberry for the 16-school individual districts on Saturday.