By Dan Hardenbrook

Newberry High School has its first championship team in 2020. The varsity wrestling team, coached by Bob Bowler, won its 2020 Division 4 District Tournament in Rudyard late last week. The team dominated in its semifinal match against Inland Lakes, before beating St. Ignace in the finals. It’s the first district title since 2011 for the varsity wrestling team.

“We were able to put it all together,” said Coach Bowler. “It’s really nice to be able to do it with this group of kids. They worked hard and I’m really happy for them.”

Newberry blasted Inland Lakes 48-6 in the semifinal round. The Bulldogs were short on numbers and could fill only two weight classes. With several voids to their credit, the Indians looked to senior leader Lance Bowler to slam the door shut. He did just that, pinning Joe Compeau early in the first round.

The finals featured a tougher task as Straits Area Conference rival St. Ignace came in off a win over the host Rudyard Bulldogs. The Saints have a rich wrestling tradition, and they pushed the Newberry/Engadine co-op squad to the limit. After a strong start with three wins via voided classes, the Indians were able to hold off the Saints and pick up the 48-30 win. Newberry wrestlers won four out of the five head-to-head matches, with Jacob Gribbell, Lance Bowler, and Travis O’Neil all winning early. Paul Davis had a come-from-behind win in round two to seal up the championship.

In the end, Coach Bowler knew his guys stepped up and did exactly what was needed to win the title. “We did what we had to do. Especially there in the finals. I think eight out of the nine guys got us six points. That was huge. We got the points when we needed them most!”

The Indians advanced to the MHSAA Team Regionals today in Onaway, where they will be grouped up with Ishpeming Westwood, Bark River Harris, and the host Cardinals. Look for results in next week’s paper.