Wrestling: Dreadnaughts pin down D-1 District championship

By Dan Robelen / WLD

On the wall of the Dungeon, the Dexter wrestling room, hangs a lime green sheet of poster paper.  On that paper is a list of goals for the season, written in black marker.  The first goal on that list reads, “Win District Title.”

On Wednesday night, the Dreadnaughts got out their black marker and crossed that first goal off the list – DONE!

Dexter defeated Pioneer and Skyline to win District 121 at Dexter HS on Thursday night. The Dreadnaughts advance to Regional 106 at Saline on Wednesday night where they will face Canton in a semifinal match at 5:30 p.m. Saline will wrestle Detroit Catholic Central in the other semifinal with the final at 7 p.m.

In the constant shuffle of schools and divisions, Dexter got moved up to Division I for wrestling this season.  On Wednesday night, they faced off with the other schools in their District for the championship.

Dexter’s 2020 District championship team. Photo by Jennifer Holly

Dexter wrestled Ann Arbor Pioneer first.  The Dreadnaughts romped to a swift victory, the final score 64-6.

While the Dreadnaughts steamed past Pioneer, Ann Arbor Huron wrestled Skyline to see who would face Dexter for the district championship.  Skyline defeated Huron 53-25.

After a short break, Skyline and Dexter faced off in the final.  The Dreadnaughts jumped out to a quick 18-0 lead, then held off a surge by Skyline to win 42-26, the win secured by Eli Yount’s victory at 125 pounds.

“It felt great,” said Dexter coach Matt Chisholm. “It was exciting.  The boys worked really hard.  It was a goal for us from the first day of practice.  It was a very exciting time.  The boys, they’re the ones that set the goals, and it’s a big deal that they meet their goals.  Hopefully, it’s the first of a long list of ones we’re going to meet in the next couple weeks.”

Kevin Blanchard secures back points and looks for a pin. Photo by Dan Robelen

This marks the first time since 2007 that the Dreadnaughts have won a wrestling District championship. It’s another check mark on the list of hoped-for accomplishments in one of the finest seasons in Dexter wrestling team history.  The two wins elevate Dexter’s team record this season to 20-7.

“I think it means more to the wrestling community as a whole than just the team,” Chisolm said.  “Dexter wrestling needed this.”

Reflecting on winning a District championship in their own gym, Chisolm said, “It was a big deal.  We got ready to go out for that final, and I pulled the seniors over.  I told them, ‘This is the last time you’re wrestling here.  Take a minute and look around a little bit before you go out on the mat.’  To win a championship on the last match you’re going to wrestle in Dexter, I really think it was big for our seniors.  It was a special night.”

Daniel Delduca finishes a take-down. Photo by Dan Robelen

The Dreadnaught team is headlined by a strong group of four seniors and one experienced junior, all having solid seasons, but they can only fill five of 14 weight classes, nowhere near enough to contend for a District title.

Dexter’s strength as a team is buttressed by the work of an over-achieving group of young wrestlers, mostly freshmen and sophomores.  “We’ve only gone as far as the freshmen have taken us,” Chisolm said.

Individual Districts take place Saturday at Lincoln High in Ypsilanti to determine which wrestlers will represent Dexter at Regionals with the chance to advance to state.

MAIN PHOTO: By Jennifer Holly

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