The Lakeshore Lancers will be back in Kalamazoo for the MHSAA Division 2 Quarterfinals. Edwardsburg made Lakeshore earn their return trip.
Lakeshore’s match-up tonight with Edwardsburg was originally a semi-final tilt. Unfortunately, host Gull Lake and Jackson Northwest had to void, so that made the southwest showdown between perennial powers the regional final. Talented Edwardsburg, featuring eight regional participants in the individual tournament this Saturday, boasted a line-up that could match the Lancers at several weight classes. It’s all about the coin toss.
Starting at 285, Drew Bidwell (2nd place) of Edwardsburg earned a 3-0 decision over Malachi Bell to give the Eddies an early 3-0 lead. Lakeshore’s Joe Ramirez pinned Caden Manfred to start a string of four straight matches the Lancers won, including three pins. Cubby Wolf pinned Braden Lundgren at 112, Cameron Litaker (District Champion) pinned Gavin Manley in the 119 tilt, and Brady Muha earned a 5-4 decision over Nick Eaten at 125. Lakeshore led 21-3 after five matches.
Edwardsburg’s Andrew Castelluci edged Kent Heppler 5-3 to put the Eddies back on the board, but Aaron Lucio (District Champion @125) bumped to 135 and pinned Colton Strawderman. Defending state champion and 140-District Champion Micah Hanau pinned Zach Zache quickly to push the Lancer lead to 33-6 after eight matches.
Similar to Paw Paw’s climb back in the district semi-final against Lakeshore last week, Edwardsburg powered back into the dual with crucial victories by winning the next five matches, including four by pin, to bring the score to 33-33 with one left. Starting their comeback was Austin Peacock after he pinned Luke Ponton at 145. Lakeshore’s James Harris, who took second at 152 on Saturday, matched-up with the second placer in 145, Jackson Hoover. Hoover pinned Harris to cut Edwardsburg’s deficit to 33-18. At 160, Jeremy Walker (4th place) pinned Dan Vaughn, and Caden Reese (2nd place) edged Tafara Rukunda (4th place) in the 171 match making the score 33-27. Edwardsburg’s Nathan Andrina (2nd place) pinned Matt Vaughn to set-up the final battle which would determine the regional champion.
Senior RJ Veldman looked to add another big moment to his senior year when he took the mat against Edwardsburg’s Tanner Hursh. In football, Veldman’s strip fumble and sack gave the Lancers a victory against Lakeview in the closing seconds. Last week against Paw Paw, Veldman’s 8-6 decision stopped the Red Wolves from taking the lead with one match left after trailing 32-15 at one point. Not to add any pressure, but Hursh beat Veldman on Saturday 4-2 in their 3rd/4th place match.
Veldman and Hursh were deadlocked 1-1 after three rounds, so sudden victory would settle it all. With time ticking away, RJ was able to wrestle control of Hursh in the closing seconds to score two points and earn a thrilling 3-1 victory to send the Lancers to the Kalamazoo Wings Event Center on Tuesday, March 30th.
Joining the Lancers in Kalamazoo will be powerhouse and defending champion Lowell as well as Fremont, Goodrich, Charlotte, Monroe Jefferson, and Warren Woods Tower. Results were not available for Region 111 (Allendale). Stay tuned to @LHSLancerSports on Twitter for information about team finals. The quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals will all take place on Tuesday. Individual regionals will be held this Saturday at Mason High School.