The realignment of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association means the end of the KLAA West, which was home to Brighton, Hartland, Howell and Pinckney sports teams since the 2008-09 school year.
Brighton, Hartland and Howell will be part of the KLAA Gold along with Grand Blanc, Livonia Stevenson, Northville and Novi in all sports except football, gymnastics, hockey and lacrosse.
Pinckney left the KLAA to join the Southeastern Conference. Milford, which left for the newly formed Lakes Valley Conference, was also part of the KLAA West since its inception. Grand Blanc joined in 2009-10, but was voted out of the league, beginning in 2018-19.
The KLAA West featured some great athletes during its nine seasons of existence. There were state champions, all-staters and others who were just outstanding all-around athletes in multiple sports.
This is part of a series on the top 10 male and female athletes in the history of the KLAA West as chosen by Livingston Daily sports reporter Bill Khan. Unlike our annual Livingston County Athlete of the Year selections, great single-sport athletes are recognized on this list. We will count them down, alternating each between girls and boys.
TOP ATHLETES SO FAR
No. 7 female:Brighton’s Taylor Seaman
No. 8 male: Brighton’s Luke Ready
No. 8 female: Brighton’s Julia Dean
No. 9 male: Hartland’s Matt Poches
No. 9 female: Howell’s Veronica Pezzoni
No. 10 male: Howell’s Bryce Lindberg
No. 10 female: Hartland’s Maddie Pogarch
No. 7: AUSTIN EICHER
- School: Hartland
- Graduated: 2014
- Sports: Wrestling, lacrosse
- College: Northern Illinois University, Michigan State University wrestling
- Accomplishments: Of all the great wrestlers who have helped make Hartland a force on the state scene, only Eicher has competed in three individual state championship matches. Eicher finished fourth at 112 pounds in 2011 and second at 119 in 2012 before winning at 130 in 2013 and 135 in 2014. At the time, he was only the sixth two-time state champ in county history. Eicher’s first state championship came at the expense of fellow Eagle Jacob Gorial, whom he beat 5-0 in a rare title match involving teammates. He repeated as a senior, despite a painful rib injury. He went 41-1 during an injury-plagued senior season. Eicher made his presence known immediately, winning 60 matches as a ninth-grader to set a school record for a freshman. He finished with a 205-13 record. Eicher was the first Hartland wrestler to win three KLAA individual titles. Eicher was also a key attack player for Hartland’s lacrosse team. He chose to wrestle in college, going to Northern Illinois University before transferring to Michigan State University. In March, he became the first Hartland graduate to win a match at the NCAA Division I tournament. As a redshirt freshman, he was the Mid-American Conference champion and an NCAA qualifier for Northern Illinois.
- Comment: “He’s just an incredible, incredible wrestler,” Hartland coach Todd Cheney said. “He’s put his whole life into it. … He’s wrestled since he was 6, and we’ve pretty much all known a ton of that time that he was going to be successful.”