By JAMES COOK
---- — AUBURN HILLS — Matthew Elliott finished a dramatic run all the way to the Division 4 state championship match with a setback, but he has time to correct that.
The Forest Area junior will be back next season for another run at a state crown.
Mio’s Zach Mack — who won by pin at 3:42 in the 125-pound title match Saturday — will graduate. Half of Elliott’s six losses this season came against Mack.
“It’s hard to sum up in words how fantastic of a weekend he had,” Forest Area coach Robert Morgan said. “In his semifinal match, he was down by a point with five seconds left and ended up winning it. That kind of sums up how his whole tournament went.”
Elliott finishes his junior year with a 47-6 record. Mack is 45-1.
“Both wrestlers were wrestling pretty sloppy and really aggressive,” Morgan said of the final. “That was the third time they’ve seen each other this year.”
Elliott was ranked No. 10 coming into the state tourney.
“He wrestled his tail off and had a fantastic tournament,” Morgan said. “He beat three kids that were ranked above him.”
Elliott started the tournament Thursday with a pin in 3:39 over No. 5-ranked Mason Lopinski, then decisioned No. 7 Gabe Bennett 16-10 and earned a spot in the title match with an 8-7 victory over No. 6 Zach Francis.
Elliott placed seventh at 103 pounds as a freshman and has 118 wins after just three seasons.
“He’s got a bright future ahead of him,” Morgan said.
So does the rest of the Warriors’ team.
Forest Area has all eight of its wrestlers back next season, including 130-pound junior Tyler Leffingwell, who posted a 1-2 state tournament record and finished with a 39-14 mark. The Warriors managed a dual-meet record well above .500 even with voiding six weight classes each time out.
“We’ve got a pretty strong team coming back next year,” Morgan said. “We’ve got a couple freshmen coming back with close to 30 wins, a couple sophomores in the same boat. We’re looking really solid next year.”
Traverse City St. Francis heavyweight Jake Khoury avenged his earlier loss to Homer’s Tyler Prater to take home fifth place in the Division 4 285-pound weight class.
Prater had won a second-round 7-5 decision, but Khoury was able to take a 10-7 victory in their second meeting in as many days.
“The first time I wrestled him, it was pretty similar,” Khoury said. “He caught me on a roll and got a four-point swing with it. It was just revenge. I got him with a throw (Saturday) and got two points. After that, it kind of felt like he gave up a little bit. After that I scored a few times (more).”
In order to get back to a rematch with Prater, Khoury had to win twice in the consolation bracket, topping Ishpeming Westwood’s David Lancour with a fall in 1:56 and then picking up a 4-3 win over Montabella’s Daniel Davidson.
St. Louis’ Jacob Longergan pulled out a 4-2 triple-overtime win against Khoury in a match that would have put the Gladiator heavyweight in the third-place match.
In the fourth and final overtime, the wrestler who scored first in the match gets choice of position and the first to score wins. Longergan would likely choose down, and Khoury had some troubles controlling the eventual third-place wrestler in that alignment, so they decided to go for it in the third 30-second overtime and let Longergan up and tried for a takedown, but it was Longergan who ended up getting the two-point takedown for the win.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Khoury said. “I always strive to do more. I hope to do better next year. Especially getting that close. It could have been third.
“I need to work on getting down one shot that I can get on anybody at anytime if I need it. I’m looking forward to a good year next year, both team and individually.”
Last year, Isaiah Schaub won a state title and Jack Jamieson was fifth for the Gladiators.
Khoury ends the season with a 40-9 record and posted a 4-2 mark in the state tournament.
“He’s come a long way,” St. Francis coach Mike Simaz said. “He’s only really been going for two years now. He’s figured out how to wrestle, and now he has to work more on technique and we can get him here next year and get him in the finals.”
Petoskey’s Jordan Haggerty took fourth, falling in the third-place match due to an injury default. He defeated Cameron Lee of Lansing Waverly for the second time in the tournament, pinning Lee in 45 seconds Saturday after topping him 9-0 in the first round Thursday. Haggerty finishes the season with a 47-7 record.
Manton’s Tristin Rosted wound up fourth, falling in the 160-pound consolation finals. Hesperia’s Lee Siersema eked out a 9-8 win in the third-place match. Rosted — who finishes the season with a 35-5 record — defeated Montabella’s Logan Burns 5-1 to earn a consolation finals spot.
Grayling’s Jon Martin finished eighth, going 0-2 on the final day. He finishes the campaign with a 49-8 mark.
Manistee’s Adam Ball also finished eighth at 215 pounds. His senior year comes to a close with a 50-13 record.