ESCANABA - The Escanaba wrestlers benefitted from a strong championship round Saturday, winning the Esky Elks Invitational tournament with 260 1/2 points.
Defending champ Gladstone was runner-up this time at 250 1/2. Norway took third with 233, followed by Iron Mountain 157.
Esky sent seven to the championship round, with six earning titles.
Paul Gerard photo
James Bruce of Gladstone, top, gains an advantageous position on?Escanaba’s Sergei LaMarche during the 119 pound title match. Bruce pinned LaMarche in 3:45 during Saturday’s Escanaba Elks Invite.
"Since I've beeen coaching, this is probably the best round we've wrestled," said Esky coach Jamie Segorski. "We were fortunate enough to have some good, solid, tough kids in the finals and they wanted to be there. But the greatest thing about today's tournament is no match meant any more than any of the others. We needed every single point."
Among Esky's champions was sophomore Teddy Peippo, who was selected the tourney's Most Valuable Wrestler.
Peippo pinned all three of his opponents, including Gladstone junior Bradley Gagnon three minutes, six seconds into the 171-pound title bout.
103 - DeCremer, Nor, pinned Jones, K, 1:22
112 - Anderson, Gw, dec. Hoffart, Nor, 17-9
119 - Bruce, Glad, pinned LaMarche, Esky, 3:45
125 - Gauthier, IM, dec. Houle, Nor, 9-0
130 - Priebe, Esky, dec. Edwards, IM, 11-6
135 - C. Gonzalez, Nor, dec. Beauchamp, Glad, 9-2
140 - Bolo, IM, dec. T. Gonzalez, Nor, 3-2
145 - Sadler, Esky, dec. Weslin, IM, 15-4
152 - Rahoi, Esky, dec. Kadish, Glad, 13-5
160 - Heller, Esky, dec. Brandon Gagnon, Glad, 10-1
171 - Peippo, Esky, pinned Bradley Gagnon, Glad, 3:06
189 - Jake Cronick, Glad, pinned Christiansen, IM, 1:06
215 - Olsen, Esky, dec. Jack Cronick, Glad, 5-3
285 - Bailey, Glad, pinned Smith, BC, 3:02
"This was unexpected," said Peippo said of being selected MVP. "I just ran the cradle hard and got the headlock (in the title match). I was also fortunate enough to get an early takedown. That was bit of a confidence boost and it just kind of carried over from there."
The Eskymos then secured the title in the 215 match when Esky senior Devin Olsen got a takedown in the final 10 seconds to preserve a 5-3 triumph over Gladstone junior Jack Cronick.
"Gladstone is as good as anybody we've seen on top (in the upper weight classes)," said Segorski. "They're just quality wrestlers and quality people. It's never easy when we wrestle Gladstone. It's always close."
Gladstone, fueled by a strong semifinal round, sent eight to the finals.
"We didn't finish today," said Braves' coach Jesse DeBacker. "Otherwise, we had a good day until the finals. We brought 11 wrestlers and they all placed in the top four. Esky has a great team. They're the team to beat this year."
Gladstone sophomore James Bruce (119) became the first area wrestler to be crowned champion Saturday, pinning Esky sophomore Sergei LaMarche in 3:45.
"I know he's good at shooting," said Bruce, who led 6-0 after the first period. "I knew I had to take him down right off the bat and the first takedown set the tone. I just wanted to be aggressive right away and keep him off balance. It feels great to win over here for the first time."
Senior Zach Priebe (130) led off Esky's title parade, earning an 11-6 victory over Iron Mountain junior Alex Edwards.
"This ended up being a good match for both of us," Priebe said shortly after gaining his first Elks championship. "He got little bit of a sense of urgency in the third period and got a takedown and escape (to pull within 9-5). It's definitely an accomplishment to take first in this tournament. I think my conditioning helped a lot."
Esky sophomore Hunter Sadler (145) gained the upper hand early in a 15-4 conquest of Iron Mountain junior Jacob Weslin for his first Elks crown.
"I made a move that was risky and Coach didn't like it too much," Sadler said, noting that move helped him gain a 9-3 advantage after the first period. "It was a big turning point and it got me more pumped up. Although, I could have ended up on my back had it backfired. This is my first tournament win, which is a big confidence builder."
Esky senior Kaleb Rahoi (152) scored a quick four points on a takedown and near fall 48 seconds into his title bout en route to a 13-5 triumph over Gladstone junior Jeremy Kadish.
"I had a real good start, the type of start I needed," said Rahoi. "Jeremy is one of my best friends and I always expect a tough match from him. He's a great wrestler and I always get real nervous when I wrestle him."
Senior Travis Heller (160) added Esky's fourth championship by taking a 10-1 decision from Gladstone senior Brandon Gagnon.
Gladstone gained its second title at 189 when senior Jake Cronick pinned Iron Mountain senior Jake Christiansen in 66 seconds. Senior Tom Bailey then won at 285 by pinning Benzie Central's Tim Smith at 3:02.
Sophomore Zac DeCremer (103) pinned Kingsford sophomore Zac Jones in 1:22 and junior Cole Gonzalez (135) took a 9-2 decision from Gladstone sophomore Bobby Beauchamp for Norway's titles.
"We knew Escanaba and Gladstone were the teams to beat, although on paper I thought we had a shot at winning this tournament," said Norway coach Nick Burkland. "A lot of matches could have gone either way, but this is something our kids have to learn from. Overall, we did all right. We just have to work a little harder."
Iron Mountain's champions were junior Jared Gauthier (125) and freshman Aaron Bolo (140).
Area third-place finishers were Esky's Hunter Royer (103), Denham Miron (112) and Mo Hoque (285) and Gladstone's Jared Syverson (140).
Curtis Labadie was Bark River-Harris's highest finsher, taking fourth at 215.
"Everything went good today," said BR-H coach Mike Labadie. "Everybody improved from last year. Zeke Oswald (160) got his first varsity win and Caleb Adams (140) won a match. Our underclassmen have really improved and they showed it today."
Area fifth-place finishers were Esky's Brittinie Larson (103) and Marlie Gillis (112).
Escanaba Elks Invitational
Escanaba 260 1/2, Gladstone 250 1/2, Norway 233, Iron Mountain 157, Benzie Central 97, Ishpeming 77, Florence, Wis. 72 1/2, Munising 70, Kingsford 52, Gwinn 44, Westwood 42 1/2, Bark River-Harris 31, U.P. Extra 28, Escanaba II 23, Menominee 18, Negaunee 17, U.P. Extra II 10, DeTour 6.