HARTLAND — Todd Cheney was, as usual, ready.
Asked if his daughter’s loss at 145 pounds in the final match of the night was due to bad luck or bad coaching, he laughed heartily.
“Bad coaching, completely,” he said. “It was pretty cool. Having one of my kids wrestling in the lineup was fun.”
By the time Maddie Cheney took the mat at 145 pounds, Hartland was well on its way to a district title. She took an early lead before losing by a second-round pin.
Maddie, a sophomore, was part of her father’s plan to clear the bench, as it were, in the Division 1 team wrestling districts at Hartland High School.
“I think we had 20 different kids wrestling tonight,” Todd Cheney said. “A lot of kids don’t get to wrestle in varsity duals like that, and they got to do it at districts. It was an opportunity for kids to get in some work and get some experience at the varsity level.”
Hartland’s experience was such that the Eagles got 12 pins in a 72-12 win over Milford in the district final as Hartland reached the regional for the 17th year in a row and 20th time in 21 seasons.
Hartland disposed of Lakeland in the semifinal, 72-9, then waited nearly an hour for Milford to beat Walled Lake Northern, 33-24.
The Eagles won the first five matches by pin and never looked back.
“We wanted to beat these two teams in order to wrestle Walled Lake Central,” said Carter Hankins, who won his match at 125 pounds with a pin in 12 seconds, the fastest of the final. “We want to avenge our loss to them.”
It was Hankins’ first action after missing time due to illness.
Cheney admitted Walled Lake Central will be his team’s focus early next week, but until then, the Eagles will concentrate on Saturday’s individual district at Birmingham Groves.
“We’ll check what Walled Lake Central did tonight, because we’ll have them first round next week,” Cheney said. “That’s a big deal for us. We lost to them on Wednesday (in a Division 1 regional at Central), and that’s going to be our whole focus starting Monday, or starting Saturday when we get home.”