by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor
A pair of wrestlers from the county won matches at the Michigan High School Athletic Association individual state finals. Onaway’s Hudson Decker made the podium with his eighth-place finish at 120. Rogers City’s Isaac Paull won his first match and lost the next two to end his tournament run on Friday at Ford Field in Detroit.
Decker advanced to the second day of competition by making his way through the losers’ bracket. In his first match at the state finals, he lost by pin in 47 seconds to Daven Lockwood of New Lothrop, who finished state runner-up at 120.
Decker came back to win his second match of the day, a pin of Bronson’s Owen Kimmas in 2:16.
A win in the next round would send Decker to the medal round. Decker faced Genaro Soto of St. Louis, who lost to Decker, 6-4, sending an elated Decker to the second day of competition and a guaranteed spot in the top eight.
In the first match Saturday, Decker faced Blake Sayer of Hesperia and lost by pin at 2:39. That sent Decker to wrestle Trennen Smith of Mio, the champion from the Charlevoix regional where Decker finished fourth.
Smith took the match with a pin at 2:03 to claim seventh place in the state championship.
Decker battled injuries in the first part of the season and kept hope alive that he could recover in time for the state tournaments. He made it back all the way to the state finals, using determination and experience in his second trip to the big meet.
“This time I came back with a lot more experience. I’m just glad I was able to get this far with the injury. Two weeks before the season started I hurt myself pretty bad,” Decker said.
Onaway head coach Joe Traynham said Decker capped his senior year in style.
“With all the obstacles he had to overcome, he knew what he had to do. He showed up to practice every single day and worked hard. We actually had to slow him down so he wouldn’t reinjure himself,” Traynham said. “For everything he has had to overcome, it just shows what kind of kid he is.”
Onaway assistant coach Dylan Crowe agreed that the opportunity for Decker to finish his career at the state meet was special.
“This is something that has been the plan all season. He missed a lot of tournaments because we were not worried about the regular season, we were worried about getting him down here,” Crowe said.
PAULL’S JOURNEY at the finals started with a win in the first match over Calden Eisinger of Bad Axe. Paull, wrestling at 165, dominated the match that went the distance in an 8-1 win.
He then was pinned by Carter Cosby of Lawton in 2:43 and suffered an elimination loss to Caleb Lane of White Pigeon who took a narrow 6-5 decision. Cosby finished third and Lane placed seventh at the state finals.
“I thought Isaac wrestled very well, against some very tough competition. Our expectations of him were to wrestle as hard as he could every match, and he did that. He can be proud of allhe accomplished this year, and he’ll be back even stronger next year,” said Rogers City head coach Jesse Fenstermaker who was joined in the coaching box by assistant Chad Coolman.
The event brought together the 16 top wrestlers in each of 14 weight classes from four divisions for the boys. In addition, 14 weight classes from all divisions brought together the top 224 high school female wrestlers who competed for state championships. The event was staged on 25 mats on the floor of Ford Field over a two-day span that had 2,100 individual matches decided.
Up to a foot of sloppy snow didn’t stop the stands from filling with wrestling fans. Detroit found itself in the center of a late winter storm Friday evening that brought the heavy snow and high winds to the metro area.