ROSEVILLE, Mich. — What started off promising turned into a match filled with landmines Wednesday night, as De La Salle Collegiate's wrestling season came to an end in a 39-36 loss to Roseville in the team district semifinals on the Panthers' home mat.
Despite jumping out to an early 12-0 lead and holding a 30-21 advantage with just five matches remaining, the Pilots couldn't fend off the hosts. Roseville used three consecutive pins - from 130-140 pounds - to put the match out of reach.
"It was going to come down to a couple of points, we knew that," coach Dennis Parks said. "We took a chance here and there to really just try something."
The Pilots found themselves in a predicament early on in the match, with junior Brett Stanley sitting out due to an injury. The all-state wrestler entered the match with just one loss on the season. Having to fill his shoes proved to be very difficult.
"This has been how our season has gone this year, with injuries," Parks said. "We've had illnesses, skin infections. It is what it is."
Sophomore Dominic Ragona (152) and freshman Javon Williams (160) both won by a void to open the match, staking the Pilots out to a 12-0 advantage. Roseville's Samual Kupiec then upset previously-unbeaten Kenneth Ryder at 171 pounds to turn the tide in favor of the Panthers. Ryder had missed the better part of a month battling mono. It was his first match back since being cleared by doctors. The rust of not wrestling for a few weeks showed. Roseville would also win the next two matches to take a 15-12 lead.
The two teams exchanged the lead three times, with freshmen Gjon Nikollaj and Nathan O'Donnell picking up pins for De La Salle at 285 and 112 pounds. After freshman Lucas Pasternak won by void at 119 pounds, the Pilots held a 30-21 lead.
That's when Joshua Specker, Ryan Charles and Joshua Crawford rallied Roseville - all winning by fall - to give their team an insurmountable 39-30 lead with just a match remaining.
Despite the match being over, the Pilots did end on a high note. Sophomore Fischer Schluessler pinned Roseville's Brendan Marcangelo-Skipper in a time of 3:21 to wrap up the match.
"He was the surprise of the day, for sure," Parks said. "He's one of those kids who has a unique body type (6-foot-4) for wrestling. It's hard for guys to wrestle him. If he uses it to his advantage, as he did in that match, he'll be hard to beat. Unfortunately, it's the end of the season and he's starting to figure things out."
Roseville went on to win the district championship, knocking off Warren Cousino in the final, 45-33. The Panthers will now face St. Clair Shores Lakeview in a Division 1 regional semifinal.
For De La Salle, it was a bit of a rough season at times, a very young team that battled its fair share of injuries. Parks is hoping that his team will take away some valuable lessons learned and return ready to take the next step in 2020-21.
"Being a young team this year, I don't think some of our guys expected the physicality that they received this season," Parks said. "I think we'll find out, come December, what kind of team we'll have. Hopefully we'll become a more physical team next year."
Roseville 39, De La Salle 36
152: Dominic Ragona (DLS) won by void; 160: Javon Williams (DLS) won by void; 171: Samual Kupiec (R) p. Kenny Ryder, 2:59; 189: Jaylen Ayres (R) dec. Thomas Marsh, 4-0; 215: Robert Brandon (R) won by void; 285: Gjon Nikollaj (DLS) p. Dezzmon Meriweather, :48; 103: Noah Clements (R) won by void; 112: Nathan O'Donnell (DLS) p. Jayden Salzer, 4:58; 119: Lucas Pasternak (DLS) won by void; 125: Double void; 130: Joshua Specker (R) p. Brady Bennie, 1:58; 135: Ryan Charles (R) p. Jeremy Schelosky, 3:22; 140: Joshua Crawford (R) p. Joseph Gerdes, 3:40; 145: Fischer Schluessler (DLS) p. Brendan Marcangelo-Skipper, 3:21.