Eagles News · Dedication pays off for 3 Livingston County state wrestling champs

MOREHartland’s Kyle Kantola completed a perfect season by winning the 130-pound state title at Ford Field on Saturday, March 2, 2019. (Photo: Timothy Arrick/For the Livingston Daily)DETROIT — They didn’t come to Ford Field to lose.They paid their dues, coming up short of the ultimate goal in past state individual wrestling tournaments, then getting back in the wrestling room and working even harder to make sure they wouldn’t experience the feeling of losing again on the big stage.It all came together on one glorious afternoon for Brighton’s Eddie Homrock and River Shettler and Hartland’s Kyle Kantola. In a sport that requires more dedication than most, their hard work paid off Saturday with state Division 1 championships.Homrock was the first Livingston County wrestler to secure his state title, winning a 3-2 decision over Macomb Dakota senior Justin Tiburcio at 125 pounds.In the next bout, Kantola completed a perfect season by with a 3-0 decision over Waterford Kettering junior TJ Daugherty.The third state champion to be crowned was Shettler, who won a 2-1 tie-breaker decision over Lake Orion’s Dylan Wellbaum at 171.Kantola finished his senior year with a 50-0 record, becoming the first Livingston County wrestler since the Fowlerville tandem of Brian Moran and Adam Coon in 2013 to win a state championship with a perfect record.He joins Tom Neu (50-0 in 1988-89) and Nick McDiarmid (61-0 in 2009-10) as Hartland’s only unbeaten state champs.Kantola would settle for nothing less than a state championship after placing second at 125 last season.“I knew I didn’t want to be second again,” said Kantola, a four-time all-stater. “I kept pushing every day to be on top instead of the one who lost, making practices 1,000 times harder so I wouldn’t have that same feeling at the end of the year.”Eddie Homrock of Brighton celebrates his 125-pound state championship at Ford Field on Saturday, March 2, 2019. (Photo: Timothy Arrick/For the Livingston Daily)The championship match was only the third all season in which Kantola had to wrestle a full six minutes. After scoring a major decision in his first match of the season, he won 42 straight matches by pins before going the distance in the semifinals and finals.“Even if I was getting falls in all the matches, I had to be prepared (to go six minutes),” Kantola said.The match against Daugherty was his closest all season. Detroit Catholic Central’s Camden Trupp, who finished third, lost 15-4 and 6-0 decisions to Kantola.Kantola got a takedown near the side of the mat with 1:20 left in the first period and an escape after starting in the down position in the second period.“I pulled single leg, which I’ve been hitting all year against everyone,” Kantola said. “It was my go-to No. 1 move.”Homrock’s match was scoreless after one period. He got an escape starting from the bottom in the second period and got a takedown with 19 seconds left in the period.“I just kept pressuring forward,” said Homrock, who went 56-2 after placing fourth at 125 last year. “I could’ve opened it up a little bit more at the end, but a win’s a win.”The normally stoic Homrock flexed his muscles as his arm was raised in victory.“The only reason I flexed is my teammates told me I had to,” he said. “I’d have never heard the end of it if I didn’t at least do something.”River Shettler celebrates an overtime victory in the 171-pound state championship match at Ford Field on Saturday, March 2, 2019. (Photo: Timothy Arrick/For the Livingston Daily)Shettler won in the first sudden-victory period, 2-1, when Wellbaum got wrapped around Shettler, who was trying to escape from the bottom, and was called for stalling.“He got on top,” Shettler said. “I got thrown into that leg. I knew he was going to get hit for stalling. I got up to my feet. Sure enough, he was hit for stalling. I didn’t really engage in anything there. I just used my knowledge of the rules and what he was doing against him.”Shettler went into the tournament expecting to have a third match against either Jay Nivison of Davison of Dustin Solomon of Macomb Dakota, but the unranked Wellbaum made it all the way to the final match.“We both wrestled awesome,” Shettler said. “I have mad respect for him, coming out unranked, not even qualifying in past years.”The common thread for all three is their passion for becoming great at their chosen sport.“He works extremely hard,” Hartland coach Todd Cheney said of Kantola. “He puts his life into wrestling. He traveled the country to become a better version of himself. Today, he finally won that state title.”Brighton coach Tony Greathouse wasn’t surprised to see Homrock, at the height of his success, quickly head off the mat to run sprints, just as he does after every match.“That’s his mentality,” Greathouse said. “There’s no one who will ever outwork him.”Regarding Shettler, Greathouse said: “It benefited him this season that he’s wrestled so many touch matches. It seems like every week he’s got a good guy and it’s one

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