‘Couldn’t be prouder’

AUBURN HILLS – Norway experienced a “good weekend of wrestling” at the MHSAA Division 4 individual state finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

“To go down there and have kids win matches against kids that were higher ranked than them just goes to show how good wrestling in the U.P. really is,” Norway Coach Nick Burklund said.

Norway had two medalists in Taylor Bonetti, eighth at 171 pounds, and Cole Gonzalez, fourth at 140. Zac DeCremer (103) went 1-2.

“Zac wrestled very well,” Burklund said. “He was in some close matches against some highly ranked opponents.

“Only being a sophomore and to pick up a win at the state tournament is great. I know that is going to keep him motivated to get back next year.”

Taylor Bonetti, a returning state qualifier, “really stepped it up this year.”

Bonetti notched his first win by pin over the eighth-ranked wrestler to start the weekend. He then fell to No. 1 wrestler and state champion in a “tough fought match.”

“He came back and wrestled into overtime in the blood round and then got a pin to put him into the medal round,” Burklund said.

The Knights coach also praised Gonzalez for wrestling “very well.”

“Cole wrestled all top ten opponents,” said Burklund, noting Gonzalez knocked off the Nos. 3 and 4 wrestlers to avenge previous losses.

Gonzalez advanced to the third-place match, fighting back to within one point with 22 seconds left in the match.

“Cole really battled strong and left it all on the mat,” Burklund said.

The Knights coach said he “couldn’t be prouder of the way our three kids wrestled this past weekend.”

“They all wrestled with fire, and the nice part about it is they’re coming back next year,” he said. “I hope to see five or six more of their teammates join them next year.

“This really put the icing on the cake to a really good season, and with 12 returners next year I believe we can be just as strong.”

Iron Mountain’s Jared Gauthier (125) wrestled to fourth and teammate Alex Edwards (135) placed eighth. Three Mountaineers reached the consolation level – Corbin Henkel (135), Jacob Weslin (145) and James Christiansen (189).

Escanaba senior Travis Heller placed third at 160 – best finish ever for the U.P. Division II wrestler. He also owns a U.P. record 178 career victories.