By Mark Blentlinger
Four Schoolcraft Eagle wrestlers made their way to Detroit’s Ford Field on March 6 and 7, to compete in the MHSAA state Individual wrestling championships. They were senior Caden Sukich, 119 lbs, 47-4 record; junior Hunter Martens, 125 lbs, 47-4 record; junior Gary Cramer, 130 lbs, 25-7 and senior Mark Fox, 160 lbs, 34-5.
First up was Sukich, facing off against Darren Gostlin, 24-9, of Evert. Caden was able to dominate his match, getting a pin at the 4:52 mark. The win would put Sukich back on the mat in the winner’s bracket against Jayden Williams, 46-4, of Kent City. That match went the entire six minutes; Caden came out the victor once again with a score of 15-11. Caden’s next match was in the semifinals. A win would have put him in the state championship. Despite his best efforts, it was not to be. Sukich’s match against Zack Hall, 50-4 of Byron, would go the distance with Sukich coming out on the wrong end of the deal, losing a decision match 2-7. Caden found himself wrestling in the 3rd place match against Williams of Kent City again. Sukich just couldn’t get things rolling and lost the match 1-9, placing him in 4th place for the second straight year.
Hunter Martens would start his first two matches just like Sukich, winning against Michael Mausolf, 37-17 of Ubly, with a pin at the 2:38 mark. His next opponent would be Connor Fitzpatrick, 36-12 of Jackson Lumen Christi. Hunter took the match the distance and beat Williams with a nailbiter, 6-5. That win sent him into the semifinal. His competitor for that match was the number one seed for the tournament, Jaron Johnson, 41-0 of Carson City. Although Martens would take it the whole match, he still fell short, losing 2-6. Martens took the mat again for 3rd place, where he would face off against Drew Gebhardt, 54-4 of Manchester. Hunter just couldn’t seem to accomplish anything he tried and lost 0-8. That loss sent him into competition for 5th place against Bradley Russel, 47-13 of Union City. The match went back and forth. In the last 45 seconds, Martens earned one point for an escape, tying the match, 4-4. Both wrestlers vied for the elusive one point for the win. With 2 seconds remaining, Martens was able to escape Russel’s hold, giving him the one point to win the match, 5-4, and a 5th place finish.
Gary Cramer made his first appearance on the big stage of Ford Field. His first match him pitted against Jordan Koetje, 36-12, from Pine River. Although Cramer did his best, he just couldn’t seem to get any advantage and lost his first match 0-2. Gary wasn’t out of it just yet. Next, he would face off against River Robertson, 36-13 from Hesperia. Cramer would take this match by a score of 3-2. He then faced off against another Hesperia wrestler, Mack Baird, 41-8. Unfortunately, this match would end as one of the shortest in the tournament, at 29 seconds into the first period, ending Cramer’s experience at the 2020 state tournament.
Last up for the Eagle Grapplers was Mark Fox, in the 160lb division. Fox first wrestled Nick Phillips, 35-9 of Manchester. The match went the entire distance, but Fox came up shy on points and dropped that one, 4-6. In the consolation bracket, he faced off against Jacob Gribbell, 32-14 from Newberry. Fox easily handled his wrestler and won 16-6. Mark needed to keep up the intensity to get back into contention for a podium spot. Next up, was Cole Hopkins, 38-6 of Evert. The match did not fall in Fox’s favor. He found himself in a position that he rarely experienced and was pinned at the 3:15 point in the match. Mark ended his high school career with over 150 wins.