Coming back home: Marquette Senior High School wrestlers take Marquette County Meet title with 45-27 win over Westwood Patriots in finals

Marquette’s Beau Caster, top, takes Ishpeming’s Isaac Olson to the mat during a match at the Marquette County Meet on Tuesday at Marquette Senior High School. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

“It was all about owning the matchups.” — Tony Gentz, head coach, Marquette Senior High School wrestling

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MARQUETTE — The Marquette Senior High School wrestling team swept their matches at the Marquette County Meet in their home gym Tuesday night to claim the championship.

Marquette defeated Ishpeming 60-16 before beating Westwood 45-27 in the finals.

After being on the road three straight meets downstate and in Wisconsin, Marquette head coach Tony Gentz said his team built off coming back to the Upper Peninsula and wrestling at home.

“The guys and myself are all happy to be back on U.P. mats,” Gentz said. “We’re coming off a brutal stretch, and it’s nice to come back to your home gym.

“We had some good matches with guys stepping up, and it was a proud night overall for us.”

In the match against the Patriots, Marquette ran the table from 140 pounds on up, with the exception of Alaric Martin’s win for Westwood in the 160-pound matchup over Marquette’s Nate Bell.

Gentz said Marquette’s wrestlers just had more in them than Westwood.

“It was all about owning the matchups,” Gentz said. “We didn’t match up as well down low (lighter weight classes), but our guys wrestled well. Some guys brought the upsets or did everything they could not to get pinned, and it paid off big in the end.”

Gentz said the night was highlighted by Marquette’s senior Beau Caster, who earned six points against both Ishpeming and Westwood. Caster pinned Westwood’s Jackson Vidlund at 171.

In Caster’s last performance downstate at the New Lothrop Invitational, he earned most valuable wrestler of the meet, and Gentz said Caster continued that high level of performance on Tuesday.

“(Caster’s) coming off an MVP performance, and has been one of our MVPs all season long,” Gentz said. “He didn’t face the same competition level tonight as he did last week, but he still showed his hard work and effort. He’s having a great season.”

First-year wrestler Jacob Johnson followed in Caster’s wake with a pin on Westwood’s Brenden Collins at 152.

But Johnson’s true test came in his first match when he started the night off in a heavier weight class than he’s accustomed to, facing Ishpeming’s Justin Karnack in the 160-pound matchup.

“(Karnack’s) a strong kid, and we got in some funky situations,” Johnson said. “He was tough, but in the end I was able to shape and pin him with a pretty good performance. It was definitely something new and challenging that helped make me better.”

Johnson said he entered the night with set goals to improve on his first season.

“I was trying to learn as many new moves as possible and learn what to do in new situations,” Johnson said. “I was working on things like slide-bys and other stuff I haven’t used before.

“My biggest challenge is getting smarter and not getting in bad situations. I’m still struggling, but it’s something to work on.”

In prior matches, Westwood defeated Negaunee 45-18, Ishpeming defeated Gwinn 45-30 and Negaunee felled Gwinn 39-18.

Patriots coach Dan Carlson said his wrestlers already faced some adversity before entering the gym, competing without Josh Bartle at heavyweight and Joe DeRocha at 103. Both were unable to compete due to illness.

Despite the holes in the lineup, Carlson said his team did the most it could with who they had.

“Our guys came out hard,” Carlson said. “We wrestled good, but we’re a young team who had a few guys missing, and that really hurt us.

“We were trying not to give up any pins while getting pins when we could, but we need to work on lowering our level down a bit and go after people without tying up.”

Ray Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.