That’s right Folks, the 2015 MHSAA Wrestling D1 Runner-Up Hartland Eagles will be taking on the reigning D1 MHSAA Champions, the Brighton Bulldogs on Wednesday Night 1/27 at Brighton HS 5:30p
Last years MHSAA State Finals had all the right pieces in two KLAA Teams and what was even better, they were both from Livingston County. You’ve read it all before, the hype, the excitement, the intensity, the true spirit of competition…and in the end, the Bulldogs came out on top. The Eagles didn’t make it easy for Brighton, they surprised the Dogs with their tenacity and challenged them with their pure grit that had the Eagles leading, then the Dogs, then the Eagles… but when the dust settled, it was a wrestler in an orange singlet that had his hand raised for the win and a team state title for the first time ever.
I can’t even begin to tell you how close it really was, much less write it as well as former Livingston Daily Sports writer Brian Beaupied, so instead I will copy and paste his words without any hesitation.
HOW CLOSE WAS IT?
If the last match had ended in a tie, Hartland would have won the crown due to a point deducted from Brighton for unsportsmanlike conduct earlier in the match. Instead, Brighton became the second county team to win a championship: Fowlerville won the Class B title in 1994.
So it’s redemption time. No, a State title isn’t on the line this time but a KLAA West Title is…and for the first time since 2012 Brighton won that last season too.
A little History lesson
You see, in Wrestling, the KLAA West Division Championship and the KLAA Association Championship titles have only belonged to two teams…ever. Hartland and Brighton.
That’s a pretty impressive run for two teams to dominate a division and a league for it’s entire existence. Hartland has reigned as KLAA West & Association Champions each year since 2009 (the beginning of the KLAA) with the exception of Brighton winning in 2012 under former Coach Sam Amine and again in 2015 under the leadership of Coach Tony Greathouse. What is even more interesting is that, while Coach Amine was the Bulldogs head coach, he was only able to defeat the Eagles once in Dual competition in his 10 years at Brighton and that was by the skin of his teeth (29-23 in 2012). Coach Greathouse is 2-2 with the Eagles in just 2 short, but very impressive years. So things are certainly turning around for the Dogs.
The Eagles have pretty much owned the bragging rights to the cross-town rivalry with a record of 23-7 over the Dogs since 1993, Coach Cheney’s first year as Head Coach at Hartland. In the early 90’s, the Bulldogs defeated the Eagles pretty handily but that all changed right about 1996 when Coach Cheney turned a corner with his Eagles and took over. With the exception of a few bumps in the road, the Eagles have dominated them since.
How do the Eagles stack up vs the Bulldogs
It’s no secret the #5 Bulldogs graduated the majority of their talent in last years squad but that doesn’t mean they don’t still have some very powerful weapons in the 6 ranked wrestlers left on their roster. Plug into that a few newer guys that don’t know how to give up and you will find yourself with a pretty solid team that is 14-6 this season vs some very talented teams.
For the #2 Eagles, currently 26-1, graduating only 2 seniors last year seems to have left them the advantage. A tough and improved Dual schedule put the Eagles up against not only top ranked Dual teams as a whole but some of the best kids in the state for Hartland Grapplers to be tested against. Hartland has done battle with 9 Top ranked Michigan Teams across the divisions, including D1 #1 DCC & #3 Davison this season and 10 Ohio teams, 5 that were ranked in Ohio.
A large majority of guys on this Hartland HS team were also a part of the very first Elementary State Championship Team (2009) and Middle School State Championship Team (2012), so they are no strangers to battling to the end. With the likes of Kyle Kantola, Corey Cavanaugh, Noah Lopez, G Potter, Nick DiNobile, Reece Hughes, Sage Castillo, Logan Vish, Lucas LaForge, and Brandon Krol, all ranked in the Michigan Grapplers D1 rankings, these guys are going to be tough to beat. The firepower and depth the Eagles have with wrestlers that are not ranked is also very impressive with Senior, Bryce Rayburn and Junior, Ryan Pietila both recording 100 careers wins last week.
Two Tough Teams, steeped in winning tradition, both with more than impressive coaching staffs, training some of the best kids in the state and both teams are from Livingston County. How could you not want to watch the fireworks unfold…
Although we all hope that the Eagles and the Bulldogs get that re-match at the MHSAA Team State Finals (and that Brian Beaupied covers it just for ol’ times sake), for now… we will settle for this. The battle for the KLAA West.
Hope to see you wearing your Blue & Gold on Wednesday, 1/27 at 5:30p to cheer on the Hartland Eagles to a KLAA West Division title!
The goal is always the same, Win a team State Title –Coach Todd Cheney
Hartland vs Brighton
1993 Hartland 14 Brighton 44
1994 Hartland 20 Brighton 42
1995 Hartland 25 Brighton 34–Also lost to Brighton in Team District
1996 Hartland 43 Brighton 22
1997 Hartland 37 Brighton 25
1998 Hartland 46 Brighton 24
1999 Hartland 36 Brighton 31
2000 Hartland 58 Brighton 12
2001 Hartland 58 Brighton 14
2002 Hartland 59 Brighton 15
2003 Hartland 46 Brighton 15
2004 Hartland 61 Brighton 18/
Team Districts Hartland 52 Brighton 16
2005 Hartland 60 Brighton 13/
Team Districts Hartland 60 Brighton 13
2006 Hartland 66 Brighton 13/
Team Districts Hartland 68 Brighton 12
2007 Hartland 55 Brighton 20/
Team Districts Hartland 63 Brighton 13
2008 Hartland 44 Brighton 33
2009 Hartland 52 Brighton 19
2010 Hartland 40 Brighton 18
2011 Hartland 32 Brighton 24
2012 Hartland 23 Brighton 29
2013 Hartland 40 Brighton 14
2014 Hartland 46 Brighton 14/
Team Districts Hartland 33 Brighton 24
2015 Hartland 18 Brighton 38/
State Championship Hartland 25 Brighton 31
Record vs. Brighton 23-7