While the competition claimed his four teammates, junior Nate O’Sullivan left the mats proud of his third place regional medal and his ticket to the Palace of Auburn Hills for the state meet.
Now 40-9 on the season, O’Sullivan started his climb of the 130-pound bracket with a 2-1 decision win over Jon Conn from Plymouth. He would then fall to the eventual regional champ, DCC’s Ken Bade, and be sent to the blood round, which is given its name because it is the match that determines whether you place and go to states, or you end your season. Last year, O’Sullivan’s season came to an end here.
That was not the case this year.
He battled through a painfully close match that only had two total points scored, a reverse in the second round by Nate.
With an enormous weight lifted off his shoulders, O’Sullivan easily handled the consolation final, winning 8-0 against Jesse O’Neal of Westland John Glenn. Even though he was already guaranteed a trip to the Palace, the match was more important in terms of state seeding.
His third place finish matches him up with a number two seed versus a one-seed if he would have lost to O’Neal. This win helps him mightily to achieve his goal of placing in the state meet.
Assistant coach Ebrom was not kidding when he said that “this was one of the toughest regionals I have ever seen”. Four of the five Hornet wrestlers dropped like flies early in the tournament, with only one win between the four all on the day.
Taylor Ticknor (45-7), a 112 pound junior, started his day with a 9-7 decision over Trey Berry from Plymouth. Ticknor would then go two and out, losing to Livonia Franklin’s Danny Martinez, 5-3, and to DCC’s Myles Amine by a hard fought pin.
Senior captain Ryan Boxeth (39-10, 119 pounds) had his own struggles on the mats at regionals. TJ Fagan of Detroit Catholic Central, the eventual regional champ, gave Boxeth his first tough loss 9-2. In the first round of the consolation bracket, Ryan gave Southgate Anderson’s Raven Schmitt a run for his money until the third period where Schmitt reversed Boxeth into a pin. This unfortunate result for Boxeth marks the end of a stellar career for Saline’s sole senior.
The day for the 140 pound Alex Cornelius (31-13) and the 135 pound Dustin Funk (29-16) was similar to that of Boxeth’s.
Alex was out in two matches, losing to Livonia Franklin’s Jordan Atienza 13-3, and to Al Regnier of Bedford 4-2 in the first consolation game.
Dustin found similar opposition in Canton’s Alex Pantaleo who defeated him 17-2, and in Livonia Stevenson’s Kody Roy 7-1.
Both Alex Cornelius (junior), Dustin Funk (junior), and Taylor Ticknor really worked for this chance in regionals, they have made great strides in the past three months. This valuable experience that they have gained will help the team big time next year.
However, their job as a teammate is not finished yet. With Nate going to state, Alex, Dustin, and Taylor still have to do what they can to help Nate represent Saline.
If you are interested in joining the Saline varisty team at the Palace of Auburn Hills, Nate will open against Tyler VanTooyan (35-5) of Rockford at 2:15 PM.