By Jeremy Martin
Special to Second Half
BATTLE CREEK – Since 2009, Battle Creek has been like a second home to Hudson High School wrestling coach Scott Marry.
His Tigers know the city well, as Hudson had bused back north holding the MHSAA Division 4 championship trophy every season over the last four. But on Saturday, they did one better and made some additional history in the process.
Top-seeded Hudson defeated second-seeded Hesperia 32-24 at Kellogg Arena to claim a fifth-straight team title, tying Davison (2002-06) for the longest streak since the Team Finals began in 1988.
And it didn’t take long for Hudson to consider what it might take to become the first to make it six in a row.
“We’re not guaranteeing state title after state title; we know that that’s unheard of. But were coming back next year, and we’re going to be battling again next year,” Marry said. “We’ve got a young group, and I think we have a shot at coming back here and again being in the top four.”
Early on Saturday, it appeared Hudson (30-6) might make quick work of the Panthers, who were the last Division 4 champion in 2008 before the Tigers began this run.
Hudson jumped out to a fast 9-0 lead following two quick wins. But Hesperia was not to be run over, as the Panthers right away fired back and took their first lead following a 26-11 victory by senior Cash Bolles.
“It felt good to be back and to be rolling. It felt good because I’m a senior and I’m trying to lead the team and do as much as possible," Bolles said. "I just wanted to play my part."
From there, the Panthers (35-3) were able to jump to a 21-12 lead following a 54-second pin by freshman Scott Rosencrans at 189 pounds.
“I was just trying to get a win for my team, and I guess that drove me,” Rosencrans said. “We were just trying to keep the ball rolling, trying to win.”
His was the fifth victory in six matches for Hesperia. But instead of signaling the beginning of a Panthers victory march, it fired up a Tigers squad hungry for another title.
“You go back to the 171 (freshman Clayton Brockway 8-6 victory) and that 215 (junior Jake Morgan 11-9 victory), we’re sitting in the corner doing our numbers, and we had to win one of those to even stay in it,” Marry said. “And when you win both and in the fashion that we did, I think it was an incredible accomplishment for a freshman and a junior to do that on this stage.”
By the time 103 pound sophomore Roddy Hamdan took to the mat, the Tigers were poised to retake the lead. And they did, thanks to his 11-5 victory that earned the team a 25-21 advantage with three matches to wrestle.
“It feels like we’re done; we did what we came to do,” Hudson junior Cole Weaver said. “I didn’t expect anything less than this. We were in a slump for a minute there, but I knew once we got out of it we’d be fine.”
Though Weaver and the rest of his Tigers teammates exuded an air of confidence, even while trailing, the Panthers had no intention of going down without a fight and certainly felt they could be the ones to end Hudson’s championship streak.
“It would have meant a lot to us, to our school, to our community. It would have been very important to all of us,” Rosencrans said.
Despite the exhausting loss and a long weekend of wrestling, Hesperia coach Doug Baird too has high hopes for his squad heading into next season.
“Hats off to Hudson; they’re well coached and they have great wrestlers, and had a great match today. But it doesn't take anything away from our kids,” Baird said. “Our kids wrestled their butts off this weekend, and I’m really proud of them. We only wrestled two seniors on the weekend, so we’re going to bring a lot of experience back into the Finals (next year).”
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