By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half
DETROIT – Austin Boone doesn't know too much about losing during the winter sports season.
Wrestling for Lowell, it's easy to understand why.
A week after being part of the Red Arrows’ fifth straight Division 2 team championship, Boone, a sophomore, won his second straight individual championship with a 6-4 win over Killion Southworth of DeWitt in their 145-pound title match Saturday at the MHSAA Individual Finals at Ford Field.
"Our goal coming in here was to do the best we can and get as many names on the wall," Boone said. "For me, this is part of the plan. Two more to go."
The Red Arrows put 11 more names on the wall in their practice room, as 11 Lowell wrestlers came home with all-state medals, led by Boone, the lone champion.
"That breaks our record of nine, and I think it ties a Division 2 record," said Boone, who ended his season with a 44-1 record. Southworth was 53-4.
Champion: Riley Bettich, Stevensville Lakeshore, Soph. (43-2)
Technical Fall, 15-0, over Nick Korhorn, Lowell, Soph. (33-10)
Sometimes heartbreak can be the best motivator.
That's what happened to Bettich, who suffered a gut-wrenching one-point loss in overtime to Gaylord's Chayse LaJoie in the 103-pound Final last year.
This year there would be no overtime, as he won by technical fall.
"I have worked so hard for this," Bettich said. "Last year I fell short in the Finals, so it feels great this year to win it.
"(Korhorn) is a very good scrambler, and I had to make sure my legs didn't get caught up in his."
Champion: Chayse LaJoie, Gaylord, Soph. (49-4)
Decision, 4-1, over Vincent Perez, Tecumseh, Jr. (53-1)
Last week at the MHSAA Team Finals, LaJoie helped his to the title match, where it lost to Lowell.
LaJoie got a little redemption Saturday at Ford Field when he won his second straight individual title.
"This feels really rewarding for all the work I put in during the offseason and on-season," LaJoie said. "And to come back and with this week after last week, I hope it helps with some of the morale on our team, because we all work hard."
Champion: Austin Franco, Niles, Sr. (44-0)
Decision, 10-8, over Caleb Teague, Goodrich, Jr. (42-5)
Wrestling takes a lot of work. And most of that work is geared to win a high school state title.
Franco has been working toward that goal since his youth wrestling days.
After a successful youth career, he placed at the Finals all four years of high school – with two MHSAA runner-up finishes heading into this weekend.
That made finally achieving his goal that much more meaningful.
"This is pretty much all I have ever worked for," Franco said. "Coming up short twice, and finally getting it done my senior year, that is the biggest accomplishment of my life."
Champion: Derek Giallombardo, Gaylord, Sr. (55-3)
Decision, 10-8, over, Brendan Zelenka, St. Johns, Sr. (28-8)
The big stage didn't bother Giallombardo. He's been here before.
The four-time Finals qualifier, and two-time placer taking fourth the past two seasons, Giallombardo finally made his way to the top of the podium with a close decision over Zelenka.
"I have been working for this since my freshman year," Giallombardo said. "Freshman year I only qualified, and my sophomore and junior years I took fourth, so this year coming into this, I knew this was my last chance. I knew I had to make it happen, and I did that."
Champion: Branson Proudlock, Gibraltar Carlson, Sr. (46-1)
Decision, 8-2, over Matt Tomsett, Madison Heights Lamphere, Jr. (49-4)
Proudlock wasn't about to rest on his laurels. And he sure wasn't going to run away from the pressure of being a returning champion.
He knew that everyone who wrestled him this year would be gunning for him. That was his motivation.
"I knew the pressure was definitely on me this year," Proudlock said. "But that gave me more motivation, to do it a second time.
"My gameplan this year was to get up early and try and score on top. I knew he was pretty tough, so I just tried to score as many points as possible."
Champion: Corbyn Munson, Chelsea, Sr. (54-0)
Decision, 11-6, over Avry Mutschler, Lowell, Jr. (40-6)
Most wrestlers who are successful at the state tournament will tell you that what makes them successful is to wrestle their match at their pace and not let their opponent dictate tempo.
That's exactly what Munson did all weekend, and especially in the Final.
"I wanted to get to my stuff and do the things that I like to do," Munson said. "Try not to get into positions he likes. But if I did, just try and out-work him. I pretty much did that."
Champion: James Whitaker, St. Johns, Jr. (39-1)
Decision, 6-4, over Caleb Fish, Eaton Rapids, Soph. (48-3)
Wrestling with a bum knee, Whitaker knew the importance of a good start.
And that's exactly what he made happen in winning the 140-pound title.
"I had a really good first period," Whitaker said. "I got that takedown, and then I rode him hard and put him on his back. That really opened it up for me."
And that was a good thing as his cranky knee acted up again during the match, but his lead was enough to carry him through the final whistle.
Champion: Alec Rees, Sparta, Jr. (48-0)
Fall, 3:52, over Doug Ferrier, Marysville, Sr. (54-2)
It didn't matter to Rees that the MHSAA Finals moved from The Palace of Auburn Hills to Ford Field this year.
To him it's just wrestling on a mat.
What was more important to him is that he wasn't going to lose in overtime like he did last year, no matter where the venue.
"I did have some butterflies," Rees admitted. "It was a new place this year, but the same feeling as last year. I just wanted it more this year. I lost in the Finals last year, and now this (title) is mine forever."
Champion: Austin O'Hearon, Eaton Rapids, Sr. (47-1)
Decision, 3-1, over Dustin Gross, Dearborn Heights Annapolis, Sr. (58-1)
Some wrestlers never waiver from their preparations and rituals – no matter if they are at the Finals at Ford Field.
So after O'Hearon won his second title with a 3-1 win over Gross, he took off sprinting on the Ford Field turf.
"That is a ritual I do after every match, no matter where I am," O'Hearon said. "I just can't stop putting in the hard work."
And hard work is what it took to give Gross his first loss of the season.
"I went in to try and wear him out and beat him in the end," O'Hearon said. "Now this feels great."
Champion: Ryan Ringler, Cedar Springs, Jr. (53-1)
Decision, 9-4, over Cade Dallwitz, Holly, Jr. (54-4)
Wrestling can be a serious sport. The work, the blood and the pain can become stressful.
But Ringler loves the sport too much to stress out about it. And he wrestled that way this past weekend.
"There is nothing like it," Ringler said. "I was out there having fun. I love wrestling. This is what I have done my whole life. I just love doing it, and I love competing."
Champion: Drake Pauwels, New Boston Huron, Sr. (50-0)
Major Decision, 10-0, over Dave Kruse, Lowell, Sr. (39-4)
Sometimes you have to admit to yourself that you are not living up to your own expectations.
That's what Pauwels did this year, and it helped him become an MHSAA champion.
"My mindset had not been the best the last couple of years," Pauwels said. "This year something just clicked for me. I think wrestling is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, and I think you need to train your mind just as much as your body."
That philosophy worked, as Pauwels ended his senior year 50-0.
Champion: Hunter Krueger, Adrian, Sr. (45-1)
Decision, 2-1 OT, over Joel Radvansky, Warren Woods Tower, Jr. (43-5)
Krueger admitted he has been training for this moment ever since he was able to walk.
So when the time came to finally achieve his longtime goal, he had a detailed plan coming in and worked it to perfection.
"I wanted a lot more offense, but knew I needed to keep my elbows in and have good shot defense," Krueger said. "I wanted to ride tough on top, which I did. I just wanted to beat him in every aspect of the match, and I think I did that."
Champion: Riley Smith, Mason, Sr., (48-1)
Fall, 4:35, over Tyler Hill, Stevensville Lakeshore, Sr. (38-3)
An emotional heavyweight, Smith stood in tears after winning his first title with a pin.
"I feel really relieved for this," Smith said. "It's been two years of me chasing this, and now that I am here, I can't believe it. I did it."
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PHOTO: Lowell’s Austin Boone has his arm raised after winning his second Division 2 title Saturday. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)