March 07, 2018TRI-CITY AREA — Imlay City 119-pounder Eric Pawlaczyk registered a third and 130-pounder Wesley Hampton obtained a fourth last Saturday at the Division 2 individual state wrestling finals.
Ford Field, in Detroit, is where the action unfolded.
"It was a great weekend for Imlay City wrestling," Imlay City Coach Tony D'Ambrosio commented. "I know that as coaches we were honored to be able to sit mat side and watch all the hard work our wrestlers put in all year be on display," he noted.
He said liked what he saw from his athletes out on the mat when their opportunity to perform rolled around.
"Eric Pawlaczyk had an outstanding season for us," D'Ambrosio said. "Eric stayed focused on his goals all year, put in the work to accomplish them and wrestled with a determination to cap off his senior year," he said.
"Wesley Hampton also represented Imlay City well over the weekend. Wesley is a class act who exemplifies Spartan pride and is relentless on the mat."
D'Ambrosio also said he was proud of the rest of Imlay City's five grappler contingent at states.
"Hunter Mullins, Israel Santaella and Dakota Sandzik have a lot to be proud of as well," D'Ambrosio continued "Just to make it in the top-16 in the state is no small accomplishment.
"We saw them gain a lot of valuable experience to take into next season and build on."
Pawlaczyk opened his stint at states Friday with a 3-1 win against Trenton's Samuel Rickman. Those grapplers entered the fray sporting 39-6 and 49-5 marks, respectively.
He then challenged Lowell's Dawson Jankowski, who was 28-12 when they met, next.
It was there Pawlaczyk improved to 2-0, picking up a 5-1 victory.
Those verdicts secured Pawlaczyk a semifinal appearance where he squared off versus Niles counterpart Austin Franco, who entered the fray at 46-0.
When the encounter ended, Franco (the eventual champion) prevailed via a pin with 1:06 gone.
Those results earned Pawlaczyk a spot in Saturday's action where he faced Coldwater's Nick Buchanan, who was 45-10 when they collided. Their confrontation ended with Pawlaczyk ahead 16-7 over Buchanan (the eventual sixth-place finisher).
That meant Pawlaczyk would face Warren Woods Tower's David Stepanian, who was 46-5 when they met, for third place honors. Their encounter drew to a close with the Imlay City grappler winning by pin with 4:23 gone.
Pawlaczyk ended the season at 42-7.
Hampton nearly duplicated his finish position.
He began his tournament run Friday with a 6-3 win against Lowell's Jeff Leach. Those competitors went into the battle with 43-6 and 27-9 marks, respectively.
Hampton then took on Gibraltar Carlson's Branson Proudlock, who was 47-1 when they met.
Their bout concluded when Proudlock, the eventual champion, pinned Hampton with 2:35 gone.
Hampton then tested his mat skills versus Edwardsburg's Jackson Hoover, who headed into the fray at 38-9.
When that encounter ended, Hampton moved to 2-1 with an 11-0 victory.
Those outcomes gained him an appearance in Saturday's action where he faced Mason's Tanner Miller, who was 51-7 when they squared off.
Their matchup ended with Hampton handing Miller (the eventual seventh-place finisher) a 6-2 setback.
Hampton continued his tournament run against Sparta's Logan Slominski, who was 48-7 when they collided. It was there the Imlay City grappler registered a 13-9 triumph.
That meant Hampton would face St. Johns' Kaleob Whitford, who was 37-9 when they met, for third place honors.
Their clash concluded with Whitford pinning Hampton with 3:19 elapsed.
For his performance, Hampton drew All-State plaudits (reserved for the top-eight finishers in each weight class).
Hampton wrapped up the season at 47-9.
Dakota Sandzik, a 103-pounder, gave Imlay City a 1-2 showing.
He started his stint at states Friday against Stevensville Lakeshore's Riley Bettich. Those competitors went into the battle with 36-14 and 43-2 marks, respectively.
That matchup drew to a close with Bettich, the eventual champion, prevailing via a pin with 3:01 gone.
Sandzik then went up against Melvindale's Ahmed Said, who was 39-16 when they met, next.
It was there Sandzik evened his tournament mark at 1-1, registering a pin with 1:08 gone.
He then challenged Stevensville Lakeshore's Bailey DeLaTorre, who entered the fray at 35-13, next.
When the clash ended, DeLaTorre (the eventual seventh-place finisher) had pinned Sandzik with 4:15 gone.
Sandzik finished the season at 37-16.
Israel Santaella went 0-2 for Imlay City at the state finals.
The 112-pounder opened his stint at states Friday against Lansing Eastern's Manuel Leija. Those grapplers entered the fray sporting 24-11 and 38-8 marks, respectively.
Their bout drew to a close with Leija (the eventual eighth-place finisher) up by an 8-3 count.
He then went up against New Boston Huron's David Jividen, who was 49-8 when they met, next.
Their battle ended with Jividen (the eventual fourth-place finisher) pinning Santaella with 29 seconds gone.
Santaella wrapped up the campaign at 24-13.
Hunter Mullins also competed for Imlay City at the Division 2 state finals, going 0-2.
Mullins began his tournament run Friday against Lowell's Austin Boone. Those grapplers entered the encounter with 35-9 and 43-1 marks, respectively.
It was there Boone, the eventual champion, claimed a 15-0 win.
Mullins then faced Niles counterpart Robert Glover, who was 32-10 when they squared off.
Their confrontation ended with Glover picking up a 5-0 victory.
Mullins concluded the season at 35-11.
Almont 189-pounder Robbie Battani and 215-pounder Hunter Spies went up against the state's top Division 3 grapplers at Detroit's Ford Field, finishing with matching 0-2 marks.
Battani started his stint at states Friday against Coloma's Jamane Smith. Those competitors went into the battle with 35-14 and 48-1 marks, respectively.
When the clash finished, Smith (the eventual third-place finisher) obtained a 21-6 win.
Battani then went up against Dundee's Kyle Motylinski, who was 38-13 when they collided, next.
Their encounter ended with Motylinski (the eventual sixth-place finisher) picking up a 10-5 victory.
Battani concluded the season at 35-16.
Spies began his stint at states Friday against Comstock Park's Joe Nagle. Those grapplers entered the fray sporting 38-12 and 54-2 marks, respectively.
That encounter drew to a close with Nagle (the eventual fourth-place finisher) registering a 4-2 triumph.
Spies then went up against Corunna's Jack Thayer, who was 50-11 when they squared off, next.
Their matchup ended with Thayer (the eventual sixth-place finisher) posting a win by pin with 1:27 gone.
Spies wrapped up the season at 38-14.Capac's Danny Navarro rounded out the list of Tri-City Area participants at Detroit's Ford Field.
Competing in the Division 4 state finals, Navarro wound up 0-2 versus 189-pound adversaries.
Navarro started his tournament run Friday against Carson City's Daniel Smith. Those competitors went into the battle 41-13 and 47-14 marks, respectively.
It was there Smith (the eventual third-place finisher) notched a win by pin with 3:17 gone.
Navarro then went up against Ishpeming Westwood's Sam Gilles, who was 46-6 when they square off, next.
Their battle wrapped up with Gilles ahead 12-5.
Navarro finished his season at 41-15.
Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.