Six Eskymo grapplers advance to regionals

GAYLORD — A half-dozen Escanaba wrestlers advanced in the Division 2 individual tournament by placing among the top four in their respective weight classes.

Esky’s Hunter Larson (135) and Kahler Geyer (160) took third, with Collin Arnt (112), Brodey Bevins (125), Tyler Lawson (130) and Baily Papineau (171) fourth.

“It was absolutely a good day for us,” said third-year Esky coach Jeff Wright. “This is the most qualifiers we’ve had since I was coach. We had a couple down spots. Hunter dropped a semifinal match he was expected to win and a couple guys who we thought would take third ended up in fourth. Although, qualifying six was great. We had two other kids on the verge of qualifying.”

Larson (35-3), who dropped a 6-4 decision to Gaylord’s Rico Brown, pinned Flint Kearsley’s Rodney Richards in 2:25 before taking an 8-3 decision from Petoskey’s Rippin Vining for third place.

Geyer (26-11) blanked Mount Pleasant’s Cordell Grimley 7-0 in another third-place bout.

In other third-place matches, Bevins dropped a 4-3 decision to St. Johns’ Brendon Smith. Lawson (26-12) bowed to Marquette’s Griffin Moore 10-8. Papineau (24-11) was pinned by St. Johns’ Braxton Parks in 40 seconds and Arnt (27-10) lost to Gaylord’s Bennett Sides 6-3.

“The tournament was set up in 16-man brackets,” said Wright. “Some had only eight, but once you get to the top four it’s really tough. We had a few bumps in the road, but overall this was a confidence builder for the team. We’re going to have some solid representation for sure.”

Esky returns to Gaylord twice this week, facing the host Blue Devils Wednesday at 6 p.m. in a team regional opener with the championship match set for 7:15.

The individual regional is Saturday at 9:30 a.m.