BRIGHTON — The last time Brighton and Hartland met in a dual, it was for the Division 1 state wrestling title.
That match went down to the last 30 seconds, with Brighton pulling out a victory for the title.
Things were different on Wednesday. The Eagles won the first three matches by pin, and four of the first six, en route to a 46-16 win.
“We’re chasing titles now. That’s what the boys say,” Hartland coach Todd Cheney said. “Every time we’re in a dual meet from here on out, we’re chasing a championship.”
The match started at 152 pounds, and the Eagles took advantage.
“We started great,” Cheney said. “Threw a freshman in there (River Shettler) and he got a fall. Then our captains (Sage Castillo, Logan Vish and Lucas Laforge) won the next three in a row.”
That gave Hartland a 21-3 lead. At 215, Andres Spisz forced Eric Conquest to overtime before falling, 6-4, setting up the match of the night at heavyweight.
Brighton coach Tony Greathouse sent Luke Ready, ranked No. 1 at 215, out to face Hartland’s Brandon Krol, ranked No. 8 at heavyweight.
Ready, a defending state individual champion, made a mistake early, and Krol made the most of it, pinning Ready in just 30 seconds.
“He’s pretty good in the upper body,” Krol said of Ready, “and I consider myself pretty good in the upper body as well. I knew I had the weight advantage, since he bumped up from 215, and the hip toss was there and I took advantage of it. And you know what? You saw the rest.”
That made the score 27-3, and the Eagles were never challenged after that.
“We came back really well in the second half of the dual,” Greathouse said. “(Grant) Morrison and (Lee) Grabowski dominated two state-ranked kids at 130 and 135 and we didn’t have (Jackson) Renaker at 125.”
Renaker, ranked No. 1 at his weight, sat out with a shoulder injury.
“We want to win against Hartland, but we want to win in three weeks (when the state team tournament begins),” Greathouse said. “So we want to keep him healthy.”
Cheney, always optimistic, talked of how last year’s loss ion the final, heartbreaking as it was, has lifted the Eagles this season.
“Last year, we weren’t expected to get there,” Cheney said. “So to get that close to a state title, in a year where we weren’t expected to to much, is huge. That leadership and experience has really helped us this year.”
For the Bulldogs, Wednesday’s loss gave them an indicator of the task ahead.
“To beat a team like (Hartland), with a little more firepower, we have to wrestle the perfect dual,” Greathouse said. “We have to get bonus points where we can, we have to not get pinned, and we have to win the close ones. We did a good job tonight, better than all year, of winning the close ones.”