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Area wrestlers face good competition in first Dorothy McClenathan Memorial Classic

Jeff Chaney | The Grand Rapids Press, December 10, 2011 7:52 p.m.

Lowell’s Gabe Morse, top, maintains control of his opponent, Dundee’s Brody Whitman in their match. – (Matt Gade | The Grand Rapids Press)

KENTWOOD — To the high school wrestlers Saturday at East Kentwood High School, it felt more like March than the first week of December.

Several state champions highlighted a deep and talented field at the first annual Dorothy McClenathan Memorial Classic that had the looks of a state finals tournament.

Two reigning state champions went at it for the title at 152 pounds, when Lowell senior Andrew Morse wrestled Rockford senior Austin Scogg.

Morse, who will wrestle at Northern Illinois next year, beat Scogg 11-3.

“I’m not use to this kind of competition this early in the year,” said Morse, who also beat Detroit Catholic Cenrtal’s Mike Babicz and Northview’s Joe Preston on his way to the championship.

“There was a lot of good competition here today, and I know I still have a long way to go. I’m still trying to get in shape, but today will definitely help down the road.”

In the final team standings, Davison won with 173 points, followed by runner-up Brighton with 167.

Local teams competing were: Sparta (6th, 112), East Kentwood (7th, 102.5), Lowell (8th, 101.5), Rockford (9th, 90), Northview (10th, 86.5) and Comstock Park (14th, 55).

Morse’s twin brother, Gabe Morse, had shorter work in winning his championship at 140 pounds, pinning Holly’s Anthony Gonzales, a former state champion, in 27 seconds.

“There was a lot of great competition here,” said Gabe Morse, who also will wrestle at Northern Illinois next year. “A tournament like this helps get the rust off of the offseason.”

Youth also was served for the Red Arrows, as freshman Nate Limmex knocked off defending state champion Justin Oliver in the semifinals 8-5, then beat Holly’s Mason Cleaver in the finals 4-1 to win the 125-pound title.

Cleaver beat Comstock Park state champion Nick Ross in his semifinal match 3-2.

“I think I did pretty well,” Limmex said. “It was a tough tournament. I was pretty nervous coming in, but glad I was able to do well and get this first one out of the way. It was a tough first tournament.”

Sparta senior Nick Trimble echoed those sentiments.

In one of the best championship matches of the day, Trimble, a state champion last year, beat state placer Angelo Latora of Portage Central 7-5 for the 145-pound championship.

“Angelo is a really tough competitor,” said Trimble, who will wrestle at Michigan State next year. “Angelo and I work out at Michigan Xtreme twice a week, and it’s always a battle. He is a big reason I am where I am today.”

It is this kind of competition that the organizers of Saturday’s tournament hoped for when planning it.

The tournament was named in honor of the late Dorothy (Wiest) McClenathan, wife of longtime state wrestling official Mark McClenathan, who now is in charge of officiating at the Michigan High School Athletic Association state finals.
Dorothy McClenathan, who was a huge wrestling fan, passed away on Nov. 27, 2009, of lung cancer.

“She was a great backer of wrestling,” said Mark McClenathan, of Comstock Park. “She had eight brothers that wrestled at Union and, after we got married, she kind of followed me around when I officiated. People got to know her and put her to work working tournaments. She worked for the state tournament starting in 1999. Everybody involved with wrestling throughout the state knew her, so we decided to start the tournament in her name.”

The tournament, which will be an annual event, helped raise $1,406 in the fight against cancer.