DAVISON — If the 23-team Genesee County varsity wrestling meet last weekend is any indication, Carman-Ainsworth senior Tae Pendleton might well be on his way to making a name for himself in the 189 lb. history books.
While that might sound like a lofty expectation, after going 4-1 to take second as an individual and lead his team to a fifth-place finish with 124 points, that dream becomes a little more real each and every time he takes the mat.
Winning this event with 377 points was the host Cardinals, Birch Run was a distant second at 172 and North Branch had 138.5. Next up was Clio in fourth with a score of 133.5, Lapeer West was sixth at 122.5 and Brandon had 104.5.
Davison came into the tournament with 48 wrestlers, a high number even for the Cardinals’ burgeoning program and one that technically exceeds the entry limit of 20 wrestlers per team. Some other schools take issue with that.
“That is far and away more than double the amount of any other school,” said Lapeer East coach Erik Hohenthaner. “Why should they be allowed to wrestle as many kids as they want and get extra work for their junior varsity kids and other teams can’t?
“I’m not so much concerned about them having 48 wrestlers in terms of competition, but the tournament is long enough as it is. The final medals were handed out around 9 p.m., while the tournament was supposed to start at 9 a.m., we didn’t begin until almost 10 a.m. Taking 28 kids out of the tournament and adhering to the proper number of wrestlers would easily take an hour off the total time of the tournament.”
North Branch coach Dan Ranger echoed similar sentiments.
“It would be nice if the host school followed their own rules,” Ranger said. “Really, if the number of wrestlers is unlimited, then say so. The rules should apply equally. That being said, to run a large tournament like that, you need a lot of volunteers. These will mostly be parents so you need to get their kids mat time. I feel Davison did not just bend their own rules but shattered them. Breaking your own rules to alleviate a problem you created is simply wrong. What life lesson are you teaching?”
Davison assistant coach Randy Schlak acknowledged that the Cardinals are violating their own rule but said the program is in a unique situation with its huge turnout every season. Davison had 62 kids to start this season, the most Schlak could recall in his years with the team.
“Most teams don’t have an issue with having 55-60 kids and trying to get them all matches,” said Schlak. “This is just an opportunity to get some of our freshmen and first-year guys some matches. We’ve always allowed all our wrestlers to be there. They’re going to be there anyway, working and helping out with tearing down mats and equipment.
“We do get complaints and they (other teams) do talk about it. It’s something we’ve always done. We’re hosting the tournament and we’re going to let our kids wrestle. It’s just not been as glaringly obvious as this year. Surprisingly, we got out earlier this year than we’ve done the last few years. Last year it was 10, and this year we were done at 8:15.”
Some coaches are resigned to the discrepancy.
“You know what you are getting into when you go to the County Meet,” said Lapeer West coach Matt Nowak. “Sometimes Davison only has 25-30 kids and they enter all of them. They just have a large number of kids this year.
“At this point of the season I just want my kids to wrestle good competition, and Davison offers good competition. If I was concerned about winning a tournament, then we would choose to go somewhere else. If your kids are good enough to win the match, they will win the match. We were 2-1 against Davison in the finals, I am happy with that.”
It was Midland Dow’s Allen Corbielle who was up first for Pendleton, but after pinning him in 3:02 what followed was another pin against Lake Fenton’s Jake Hawes in 3:14. What that led to was victories for the Cavalier over Lapeer West’s Noah Raymond 7-2 and Jakob Luckett 8-6. Finally, all that was left for Pendleton was to get past North Branch’s Zeke Shifflet in the title match. While both grapplers kept things close throughout, in the end Shifflet was able to keep things just a little bit closer, an advantage he parlayed into a 1-0 victory.
Another Carman-Ainsworth senior whose fortune appears to be on the rise is heavyweight Jerron Thomas. After pinning LakeVille’s Dylan Lawrence in 1:11 and Montrose’s Bruce McLean in :50, only to get beat, 11-7, by Clio’s Tyler Eible, Thomas came back in the match for third place to earn himself a 12-7 decision over Birch Run’s Kyle Spencer.
For the Cavs’ Malik Dawkins, things started off with a bang after the 140- pounder posted a 16-1 technical fall against Millington’s Malachi Breece and pinned Midland Dow’s Austin Riem in :13. Davison’s Carter Stoddard had other plans, though, and ended up sneaking past Dawkins, 3-2, prior to Brandon’s Trevor Bordeau claiming a 9-0 major decision that left the sophomore in fourth place.
Freshman Jawanza Edwards blazed a very similar trail for himself at 112 by besting Carman-Ainsworth’s Larry Dunn in 4:25 and North Branch’s Derrick Wadley by major decision, 14- 1, only to end up on the wrong end of pins against Clio’s Mason Smith in 1:18 and Brandon’s Nick Bis in 3:59 to finish fourth.
Darion Vaughn also got off to a quick start for Carman-Ainsworth at 130 by pinning Davison’s Kurt Schlak and Grand Blanc’s Robert Lagreca in a combined 4:11. That’s when things started to go awry for the sophomore by way of a loss to LakeVille’s Zach DeLong in 1:03, but Vaughn quickly righted the ship by downing Dow’s Cody Graham 12-5 before finally getting pinned in 1:32 by Bendle’s Jacob Low to end up placing sixth as an individual.
Aaron Dupree, on the other hand, came in fifth at 119 for the Cavs by losing to Davison’s Lincoln Olson in 1:51 after pinning Lake Fenton’s Jarred Corcoran in under a minute. From there, Dupree, a senior, took out Lake Fenton’s James Demember 4-3 and Kearsley’s Mitchell MacArthur 8-6 to come in fifth for his weight class.
Carman-Ainsworth has several wrestlers that went 2-2 at the County meet, as well, including Davin Schofield at 215, D’Mario Blue at 160, Richard Dudley at 152 and at 171 senior Grant Roe won two of his three matches.
The Cavaliers were at Davison yesterday for a Saginaw Valley League- South quad meet.