Sam Gilles, Nathan Brewer win titles to lead Westwood Patriots to 3rd at Esky Elks wrestling invitational

Westwood’s Sam Gilles, top, and Iron Mountain’s Caleb Burklund battle in the 189-pound championship match at the Escanaba Elks Invitational on Saturday at Escanaba High School. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Mike Mattson)

ESCANABA — Escanaba reaped the fruits of its labor Saturday, earning their first Escanaba Elks Invitational high school wrestling title in four years with 224 1/2 points.

They were followed by defending champ Grayling with 190 and Westwood in third with 167. Newberry was sixth with 97, Munising eighth with 73, Ishpeming ninth with 53, Negaunee 12th with 45, Gwinn 14th with 27 and Marquette 15th with 21.

“I couldn’t be happier with our effort today,” Esky coach Jeff Wright said. “I’m really proud of the team. The guys were itching to get back into a tournament. Winning our own tournament is definitely a motivator and we have a brand-new mat to set a trend on.

“This is absolutely a good way to see some of the competition we’ll see at the U.P. Finals (on Jan. 20 at Marquette).”

Freshman Collin Arnt was the first of three Esky champions in this tourney, taking a 6-1 decision from Westwood sophomore Joe Derocha in the 103-pound final.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Arnt said. “I felt confident coming in, but I never wrestled any of these kids before. This was my first time in this tournament, and I was nervous coming in. Although having the butterflies raised my energy level a little.”

Junior Sam Gilles at 189 added a championship for the Patriots by taking an 8-4 decision from Iron Mountain freshman Caleb Burklund. Fellow Westwood wrestler Nathan Brewer captured the 112 class with a 7-3 decision over Brodey Bevins of Escanaba, while Pats teammate Josh Bartle was runner-up at 285 after he was pinned at 2 minutes, 30 seconds in the finals by Eddie Cardew of Kingsford.

“I thought it well for us overall,” Westwood coach Dan Carlson said. “We have a few kids who need to drop weight and a few others missing due to academics. We had a couple matches that didn’t go our way, but this was a good meet to get us ready for bigger meets.”

The Patriots are entered in the Marquette County meet at Gwinn on Wednesday evening.

Newberry got a title at 160 when Alex Henry fended off Scout Wunder of Escanaba 4-2 in the finals.

Esky sophomore Justin Mathieson (119) earned his first Elks title by pinning Kingsford’s August Early in 3 minutes, 36 seconds and Hunter Larson took the 135 championship with a major (14-1) decision over Munising senior Nick Miles.

Three other area runners-up included Negaunee’s Leo Helppi, who lost in the championship at 171 to Logan Joseph of Grayling 9-2; Ishpeming’s Andre Walsh, who was pinned in the 215 finals to Reece Ferrigan of Grayling in 19 seconds; and Newberry’s Cameron Symonds, who was edged out 4-3 to Kingsford’s Trevor Povolo in the finals at 152.

Third-place finishers from the area included Wyatt Carlson of Westwood at 119, Tyler Lindholm of Westwood at 130, Nathan Magnusson of Newberry at 135, Lance Bowler of Newberry at 145, Trevor Johnson of Munising at 152 and Christian Cole of Munising at 160.