ST. JOSEPH — Niles’ wrestling team rallied to win its sixth Division 2 wrestling district team title in the past eight years on Wednesday.

Trailing Lakeshore 24-9 halfway through the championship tilt, coach Todd Hesson’s Vikings, rated No. 7, won the remaining seven matches for a 44-24 victory.

“I told our guys it was time to get going from 135 (pounds) on, and they certainly responded,” praised Hesson of his team’s expected effort. “Lakeshore has been coming on of late, and they certainly came to wrestle tonight, as they always do. “We won a couple close ones at 145 and 160 to keep our run going.”

The meet started at 215, and the Lancers won five of the first seven matches.

That included first period pins by Cameron Litaker at 103 and Jonathan Gelesko at 119 on their way to the 24-9 advantage at the midway point.

“I was pleased with our young team’s effort tonight, but Niles is just so strong, especially on top,” noted Bruce Bittenbender, veteran Lakeshore coach, whose squad bowed out at 11-6. “We lost those two close ones, or it could have got interesting. We could be a force to be reckoned with next year, depending how much all our returning kids work.”

Niles, the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference champs, will take a 16-4 record into the team regional next Wednesday at Edwardsburg, winners of the Sturgis district. Mattawan meets Harper Creek in the other 6 p.m. regional semifinal. The Vikings will be heavily favored.

The district semifinals were both blowouts as Niles beat St. Joseph 65-12, and Lakeshore thumped short-handed Benton Harbor 78-6.

In the title match, the Vikings won nine matches against the Lancers, including five by pins. Garnering falls for Niles were heavyweight Brian Soto, Bryce Brust (140), Robert Buckland (152), Cade Best (171) and Dawson Bruckner (189).


Niles 44, Lakeshore 24

103 - Cam Litaker (L) p. Connor Pickens 1:09; 112 - Jamison Zimmerman (N) d. Kyle Stampfly 12-7; 119 - Jonathan Gelesko (L) p. Carson Landon 1:07; 125 - Micah Hanau (L) d. Ryan Franco 5-0; 130 - Shane Williams (L) p. Terris Frick 5:58; 135 - Javond Ball (N) t.f. Justin Crowder 25-10; 140 - Bryce Brust (N) p. Brock Strebeck 3:49;

145 - Kade Wagley (N) d. Sam Prince 8-6; 152 - Robert Buckland (N) p. James Harris 1:24; 160 - Cole Simpson (N) d. Erik Tayloer 5-4; 171 - Cade Best (N) p. Evin Koeppe 3:39; 189 - Dawson Bruckner (N) p. Tafara Rukunda 0:40; 215 - Zeke Rohl (L) d. Tysen Custard 7-3; Hwt - Brian Soto (N) p. RJ Veldman 3:02.


Niles 65, St. Joseph 12

103 - Connor Pickens (N) m.d. Jack Sherman 10-2; 112 - Jamison Zimmerman (N) p Collin Stanert 1:59; 119 - Carson Landon (N) p. Rinehart Bennett 3:29; 125 - Ryan Franco (N) p. Gabe Soler 1:11; 130 - Issac Meyer (SJ) by forfeit; 135 - Bryce Brust (N) p. Yazan Farhan 1:10; 140 - Javond Ball (N) t.f. Karan Singh 23-8;

145 - Kade Wagley (N) p. Jagroop Singh 1:38; 152 - Robert Buckland (N) m.d. Matt Morris 10-0; 160 - Cole Simpson (N) t.f. T.J. Broderick 17-1; 171 - Drake Collins (SJ) by forfeit; 189 - Dawson Bruckner by forfeit; 215 - Ken Krempetz (N) t.f. Cameron Hureskin 16-0; Hwt - Brian Soto (N) p. Dan Gaya 2:45.

Lakeshore 78, Benton Harbor 6

(Contested matches only)

125 - Kent Heppler (L) p. Antwan Johnson 1:53; 130 - Austin Dunn (L) p. Mylon Bowman 1:45; 171 - Dash Harris-Moore (BH) p. Colin Robinson 2:28; 215 - Zeke Rohl (L) p. Curtis Parker 0:32.

Records - Niles 16-4, Lakeshore 11-6, St. Joseph 13-14.