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Blue Devils are state champs once again

Posted Sunday, February 28, 2010 by Paul Costanzo

BATTLE CREEK -- Dominic Cattera didn't want any of his teammates to jinx it, but they were right: Casey Martin wasn't going to get pinned.

Martin held off an onslaught and a close call Saturday against top-ranked Chris Rau of Dundee, giving Richmond a 24-23 victory in the Division 3 state finals at Kellogg Arena.

"It was gut-wrenching," Cattera said. "Seeing him get turned those two times and people were jinxing us -- you just want to hurt somebody -- then you're just so happy because you know you're going to win."

It's the Blue Devils first state title since 2006, and it keeps alive a string of senior classes since 2000 that graduate with a state championship ring as Cattera, Roger Crump, Josh Rivard, Grant Hafner, Brandon Pawlak, Sean Clancy, Preston Treend and Ryan Peltier are about to get one.

"It's amazing, I don't know I can't describe it," Crump said before his excitement simply turned to laughter.

There was no laughing, however, when Martin, a junior known more for pinning opponents than getting pinned was holding off Rau, one of the best wrestlers in the state.

The Blue Devils were ahead 24-19 heading into the match, and held the edge in criteria, meaning Rau needed the pin. But the 15-3 loss ended up being one of, if not the, biggest wins of Martin's career.

"Don't get pinned," Martin said of his thoughts on the mat. "I don't know, I just fought off, I wasn't going to get pinned. Coach said don't get pinned so I wasn't going to get pinned."

Richmond co-coach Brandon Day was confident Martin could get the job done.

"I would have bet my house that Casey Martin wasn't going to get pinned," said Day, who co-coaches with George Hamblin. "He's just that kind of kid. (He'll) fight like crazy. He's been at it for a long time.

"I've been coaching him for seven years and I can count on one hand how many times he's been pinned."

The one-point difference in the final score was fitting of a match that most had expected since the beginning of the season. The two teams split their two regular-season meetings, with Dundee winning the most recent and grabbing the No. 1 seed. That meant Richmond had to go through No. 3 Saginaw Swan Valley in Saturday morning's semifinal, which it did, 36-17.

The finals match met everyone's expectations, finishing last of the four divisions, which put all eyes on the Division 3 powerhouses.

"I think (Dundee) is the best team in all divisions,

but did we wrestle with heart and guts today," Hamblin said. "We always wrestle well in Battle Creek, but that's an all-time best effort. That was one of the best high school wrestling teams I've ever coached against in my career, and boy did we wrestle hard."

The match was tight throughout, as Richmond built its biggest lead after Cattera's gutty 6-4 win over Nathan Wade at 112 gave his team a 24-16 lead with two matches remaining.

Rivard nearly sealed it for the Blue Devils, but lost an 8-7 decision to second-ranked Joey White at 119 pounds. That set up Martin's heroics at 125.

Prior to Cattera's win, the Blue Devils got a big win from Stephen Ireland at 103, as he defeated Travis Sproles 8-6.

Those were just two of six matches that were decided in the final seconds, with Richmond winning five of them.

Pat Baruth won a 7-5 decision at 135 pounds with a late takedown.

Brian Henke remained undefeated with his second overtime win of the day, this one a 7-3 decision against Brandon Desbrough at 152. That was followed by Adrian Morang's last-second 3-1 victory against Scott Snook at 160.

There were no pins in the match, and just one technical fall. Richmond also had decisions from Justin Russo (130), Crump (171) and Greg Sebastian (215).

Dundee got a technical fall from Justin Heiserman (189) and major decisions from Joe Rendina (140) and John Marogen (285). Ryan Bickley (145) won by decision for the Vikings, who finish the season 38-2, both losses coming to Richmond.

Richmond, meanwhile, finished 48-4, one win shy of the school record. But that would have just been icing on an incredible season.

"Best feeling the world," Russo screamed, before being asked what size ring he wore. "Not sure yet, but I better go look."

FIGHTING FOR POSITION: Richmond's Austin Kratt tries to roll Saginaw Swan Valley's Jake May in their 152-pound match Saturday morning during a Division 3 semifinal.: Richmond's Preston Treend (top) wrestles Saginaw Swan Valley's Jerry Flores in a 140-pound match.Casey Martin

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