MARQUETTE - Three Marquette County wrestlers made it under the glare of the spotlight in the finals of the U.P. Championships high school wrestling meet on Saturday evening.
None were able to pull off a victory, but just getting under the spotlight was a feat in itself at an event that featured all 18 Upper Peninsula schools that participate in the sport.
On paper, Jordan Tousignant of Ishpeming probably had the best chance of winning, as neither he nor his finals opponent, Sam Taylor of Gladstone, were among the top seeds in their 145-pound weight class.
Alec VanHorn of Ishpeming, right, tries to take down Jamie Collins of Negaunee in the fifth-place match at 285 pounds during the U.P. Championships high school wrestling meet held at Marquette Senior HIgh School on Saturday. Collins won the match to earn a medal. (Journal photo by Steve Brownlee)
Tousignant entered the match with a 19-6 season record, including three wins Saturday, while Taylor was 18-7. But it was Taylor who took the early momentum, aided by an arm injury suffered by the Hematites senior, and won 15-2.
The pair entered the match 2-2 against each other this season, according to Ishpeming head coach Tim Hares.
"He might've been a little out of sync," Hares said, "because I think Jordan put in a good effort. He dug himself a bit of a hole early and couldn't get out of it."
Tousignant was understandably dejected after the loss.
"He was the better wrestler," he said, not willing to elaborate on why that was so, but adding he likes the idea of a rematch.
Tousignant wriggled himself out of several near-pins with deft arches of his back, but was unable to generate any offense.
At 130 pounds, Zach Priebe of Escanaba took out senior Hunter Moore of Marquette, 11-5. Moore was down just 6-4 late in the second period before the Delta County athlete scored an initial escape and two takedowns in the final period.
Priebe entered with a 20-2 record while Moore was 24-6, including three pins Saturday.
"Hunter took third at this meet last year at 125 (pounds)," said MSHS coach Tony Gentz, who also pointed out Moore was the lone area wrestler to win a title last weekend at the Ray Mariucci Tournament in Kingsford.
"So you can see how Hunter is closing the gap. He's having a real, real good year."
"Priebe is just a strong guy," Moore said, "and I found out he has a lot more experience wrestling that I do."
Moore explained he didn't begin wrestling until his freshman year at MSHS, when he was looking for a spot to participate in.
The third county wrestler making the finals was 112-pounder Alex Anderson of Gwinn, who actually got to this point at 103 two years ago as a freshman.
Sporting a 23-4 record this season with two pins Saturday, he was pinned at 3:32 by Rudyard's Jimmy Spencer, who came into the match at 27-2.
"He's good on his feet," Gwinn coach Dustin Luoma said of Anderson. "He's always working hard because he loves to wrestle."
Luoma added Anderson was a runner-up at the Mariucci meet and won titles at the Escanaba Elks and Westwood Super Dual meets earlier this season.
"I felt like I was a lot faster than him," Anderson said about his much taller opponent, "but he had a lot of length."
Area schools had several other wrestlers post wins and earn top-five medals at this event, which kept four mats running continually with matches throughout the morning and afternoon.
For Marquette, Beau Caster at 135 pounds and Ricky Baker at 171 each finished third as they posted three wins apiece, all on pins.
Mahler at 189 and teammate Brian Helmer at 152 each came in fifth. With a nearly full bracket, Mahler posted four wins, three on pins, while Helmer had two victories.
For Ishpeming, Johnathan Willey at 135 had two wins and finished fourth, while Nate Meyer at 160 had four wins and was fifth.
Negaunee's top finisher was Brody Rosten in third at 140 with two major decisions. Teammate Jamie Collins at 285 was fifth with four wins, all pins.
Westwood's Trevor Swanson at 130 and Shawn McIntyre at 135 each finished fifth. McIntyre posted four wins and Swanson three.
Gladstone won the team title with 249 points, with Norway second (210) and Escanaba taking third (199 1/2).
Marquette was sixth with 105, Ishpeming ninth with 77, Westwood 10th with 54, Munising 11th with 50, Negaunee 12th with 48, Manistique 14h with 37, Gwinn 15th with 28 and Newberry 17th with 16.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.