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Blue Devils relish state title afterglow

Posted Monday, March 01, 2010 by Paul Costanzo

Pinpointing the one match that made the difference Saturday in Richmond's state championship victory against Dundee is nearly impossible.

Because in a match as low-scoring and tight as the Blue Devils' 24-23 win was, every single point in every single match made the difference.

Richmond won eight matches, all decisions, and limited Dundee's bonus points just enough to win their fourth state title since 2000, and first since 2006.

"It's just being tough," said Brandon Day, who co-coaches Richmond with George Hamblin. "These aren't your club kids, they're Richmond Middle School kids that have been together for a long time."

The match wasn't decided until Richmond junior Casey Martin avoided a pin from Dundee's Chris Rau at 125 pounds, but Martin's was just the last super effort for the Blue Devils. Richmond got six minutes out of senior heavyweight Ryan Peltier, who had to fight off his back early in the first period and ended up losing in a major decision.

Dakota Boldrey gave up a technical fall at 189 against Dundee's second-ranked Justin Heiserman, whereas a pin would have changed the complexion of the final match. Senior Preston Treend lost in a major decision to top-ranked Joe Rendina, and like Boldrey's match, anything more would have changed things.

And that's just the losses. While Stephen Ireland and Dominic Cattera picked up big wins at 103 and 112, respectively, they wouldn't have mattered had Pat Baruth (135) and Adrian Morang (160) wouldn't have done the same earlier in the dual.

While Richmond might have been looking for bonus points from some of their top guys, it turns out that had Justin Russo (130) and Roger Crump (171) done anything more against a pair of solid Dundee wrestlers, it would have just been some extra cushion at the end. And don't forget the effort of Brian Henke, probably the Devils' most talented wrestler, coming back in the final seconds to force overtime and then getting the win to avoid a big upset at 152.

If this dual was wrestled 10 more times, it would likely have 10 different outcomes. The two teams are that closely matched. But the only one that mattered went to the Blue Devils.

"It was unreal," Cattera said. "There was no way to describe it. Losing the state title my freshman year, it was just as bad, you can't describe that feeling.

"Now, being able to counter that my senior year, it's just, it's unbelievable."

m Contact Paul Costanzo at (810) 989-6251 or pcostanzo@gannett.com. View his blog at www.thetimesherald.com/sports.

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