Hart and Shelby wrestlers shine at MHSAA Individual state wrestling tournament

March 7, 2017

DSC_0070Hart and Shelby wrestlers shine at MHSAA Individual state wrestling tournament

By George C. Wilson, OCP special writer.

AUBORN HILLS — The Hart Pirates capped a good team competition season in wrestling with an impressive performance in the individual state tournament the first weekend in March.  Coach Brad Altland praised his wrestlers, “We really performed well as a team and the boys worked hard and improved all season.”  This was in regards to the Pirates winning a team district title over longtime rivals Hesperia and Shelby. 

The Pirates were represented at the Individual finals at the Palace of Auburn Hills by seniors Brady Tate at 152 pounds, Carlos Garza at 169 pounds and Jacob Hoebeke at 171 pounds.  Also juniors John Guadarrama at 215 pounds and Jacob Bosley at 112 pounds.  The strongest Hart contingent in many seasons was rounded out by Sophomore standouts Noah Cantu at 112lbs and Coach Altland’s son Robbie Altland wrestling at 103 pounds. Both sophomores came to the state tournament highly ranked following freshman years when they qualified for the state finals.    

Coach Altland praised his seniors on the first day of the tournament and they came through with fine performances.  Brady Tate lost a second round match to the eventual state runner up but managed to wrestle his way back through the consolation rounds to a fifth place medal. Carlos Garza lost to the state champion in the semifinals and finished in sixth place.  Jacob Hoebeke failed to medal but posted a 1-2 record.

Junior John Guadarrama made his first trip the state finals and failed to medal but gained valuable experience for his senior campaign.  At 112 pounds Jacob Bosley lost to the eventual state runner up in the second round but came back through consolation rounds to finish eighth. 

Any wrestling coach will tell you when underclassman qualify for state it is a great benefit to the wrestler and the program.  Last season sophomore Noah Cantu qualified and placed eighth in the state meet.  He came to the 2017 tournament as a regional champion at 112 pounds.  He fell in the second round  in a sudden death overtime match to Nikolas Andaverde of Mendon.  As sometimes happens at this tournament Cantu and Andaverde met again in the medal round of the consolation finals.  Noah used the chance to reset the rivalry with a hard fought 2-1 victory to secure third place

In the 2016 tournament Robbie Altland proudly told reporters “I’m the smallest wrestler entered!”  This season the slightly larger young man was still wrestling at 103 pounds but not needing to claim his small stature as the reason he stood out.  His season resume this year announced his presence very well. He was a regional runner up and sported a 51-4 season record.  To prove he was factor to reckoned with he followed up a second round loss to the eventual 103 pound state champion by skillfully wrestling his way back to a third place medal.

The coach’s son and his fellow super sophomore Noah Cantu gave Brad outland further reason to be both proud and smiling in anticipation for what lies ahead for the Pirates on the mat.  Both boys secured their 100th career victory in the weekend’s action.  A feat not often achieved by sophomores and one that announces that their next two wrestling seasons will likely be memorable for both team and individual success. 

The Shelby wrestling program has a sophomore bound for greatness as well.  And again it is a coach’s son.  Shelby coach Ed Felt, two-time state champion for the Tigers in his youth, knows what it is to coach a son in the big meet. His son, Dylan, medaled under his father’s tutelage two seasons ago.  And this season younger brother Nick made a dramatic run at medaling as well.  With a 49-2 record and a regional championship to his credit Nick had aspirations for a state championship. 

Shelby and Hart are natural and longtime rivals in all sports.  Stretching back more than a century.  And there are many epic battles on the wrestling mat that alumni of each school can reference.  But this season offered a special example of the close ties wrestling can produce even amongst rivals.  Coach Felt pointed out how Hart had a fine season and that his son, Nick, and Hart Coach Brad Altland’s son, Robbie, were born on the same day.  He smiled as he said that both boys would earn a state medal on the same day as well.

Nick Felt started out his tournament run with pins in the first two rounds.  He won his semifinal match over second ranked Spencer Fox, a senior from Schoolcraft High School.  Nick faced number one ranked Robert Rogers of Burton Bentley in the championship match on Saturday evening.  The young Shelby wrestler held his old against the powerful upper classman but he faced a three-point deficit late in the match with both wrestlers on their feet wrestling to take the other down.   A less courageous and less experienced wrestler may have held back.  But Nick Felt was raised in the sport and he possesses a mat wisdom beyond his years.  He knew he had to score big and score now.  He attempted a head and arm throw in the final few seconds of the match which Rogers was able to slip out of to make the final score 9-4.  Nick lost, but he lost on the attack and no coach would criticize the effort.  Especially not his father who as he walked away from the corner of the mat uttered only a single regretful “shoot.”   Disappointed as he may be Coach Felt knows wrestler Felt has made great strides this season and next season awaits. 

George Wilson is a graduate of Mason County Central High School who worked for several years as a play by play sports announcer for local radio. He is also wrestling coach for Rockford Public Schools. 

Story and photograph copyrighted Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this article or its photographs may be reproduced without expressed written consent. 

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