Two days after an upset loss to Greater Thumb Conference rival Capac, the Caro High wrestling team got back on its winning track.
The Tigers won their own second annual 10-team Steve Ley and Bob Suranye Team Challenge on Saturday.
The way Caro went about its business on Saturday, it was apparent the first league loss motivated the Tigers to leave nothing to chance. Eight of the 12 Caro wrestlers to compete went 5-0, and the Tigers beat Corunna 54-30 in the finals.
Caro won seven of the first nine matches in the finals by pin. Brian Sherd erased five- and six-point deficits with a pin at 112 to seal the deal.
“We came out with a ton of energy,” said Caro co-coach Joe Fulton, adding that Brian Sherd erased a five- to six-point deficit with a pin of his opponent at 112 pounds to seal the deal. “We were worried about them coming back in the lower weights, but we got the matchups that we wanted.”
In their pool, the Tigers (18-5) beat Mayville 56-24, Essexville Garber 61-18, Swan Valley 66-18 and Saginaw Valley Lutheran 53-30.
Going 5-0 as individuals for Caro were Sherd (112 pounds), Keggan Miller (119/125), Coven Withers (130), Ty Inches (135), John Botkins (140), Garrett Stoick (145/152), D.J. Daniels (160) and Jimmy Hill (189). Adding to the performance was Blair Newton (103) at 4-1 and Tom Waggoner (135) at 2-0.
Mayville and Cass City tied for third at the meet with 4-1 records.
Cass City (27-10) was in the mix for a shot at Caro in the finals, but dropped its lone match to Corunna 43-42 on tiebreaker criteria to fall just short of a 4-0 finish in its pool.
In pool competition, the Red Hawks beat Marlette 54-30, Vassar 60-15 and the tournament all-stars 66-18. In their crossover match to complete the day, the Red Hawks defeated Swan Valley 72-12.
Going 5-0 for Cass City were Drew Markel, Tristan Swiderski and Hunter Caister. Cass City’s 4-1 finishers included Mason Copeland, Alie Kalokoh, Lucas Swiderski, Hayden Larkin, Ryan Pisarek, Race Woloshen, Jordan Mester and Alex Perry.
The Wildcats (17-11) beat Swan Valley, Essexville Garber, Saginaw Valley Lutheran and the tournament all-star team. Their lone loss came against Caro.
Leaders for Mayville at 5-0 were Steven Gilbert (125/130), Trent Birmingham (160/171) and Logan LaBean (285). Going 4-1 for the Wildcats were Madyson McDonald (112), Jerry Gilbert (145/152), Steven Jackson (145/152), Peter Morden (189/215) and Bailey Glover (285), while Patrick McGuire (189/215) and Abigail Gonzales (125/130) finished 3-2.
Caro swept the meet’s upper- and lower-weight MVP honors, with Daniels earning upper-weight accolades and Botkins earning lower-weight accolades. Daniels, a defending state champion, is ranked first at his weight in Division 3 and fourth in the state regardless of division.
Daniels is approaching his 200th career win. He currently sits at 195 and is 36-0 this season.
“He’s starting to get more confidence at the right time,” said Fulton.
Caro’s GTC loss to Capac wasn’t without its challenging circumstances.
“We had seven kids out sick,” explained Fulton. “It was a tough hour-and-a half bus ride back home.”
Caro still is in control of its own destiny as a first-year GTC member after moving from the Tri-Valley Conference East. With just one league loss, Caro leads Mayville, Memphis and Bad Axe – tied for second with two losses each – in the race for first place.
Caro was due to host its final two GTC duals on Wednesday, but the meet was postponed by the to weather. It’s unclear when it will be rescheduled, as there’s a limited window with the GTC Championships set for Saturday at Mayville and team districts to follow on Wednesday.
Although Caro is leading the league, Fulton said nothing will be decided until Saturday’s GTC Championships, which count as half the formula for determining the final league standings.
Adam Smith is sports editor for The Advertiser and can be reached at [email protected]