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Hartford Press Box

Wrestling team captures first team district trophy in 15 years

Last week, the Hartford Husky wrestling team returned to the mat on two separate occasions. But this time, the stakes were much higher as the team entered the postseason, competing in both team and individual districts during the week and weekend. The wrestlers accomplished many feats throughout the regular season, finishing with a winning team dual meet record, posting a runner-up finish in the conference standings and had three conference individual champions.

In the team district meet, which was held at Watervliet on Thursday, Feb. 9, the Huskies were in a team district that also included both the host Panthers and the Coloma Comets. Needing to win both duals to take home the trophy, Hartford dominated both matches; first defeating Watervliet, 60-21, before ending the night by beating Coloma, 72-12. With that, the Huskies took home a team district trophy for the first time in fifteen years.

Hartford wrestlers that won matches against Watervliet included Chandler Morsaw (106 pounds), Anya Watkins (113 pounds), Alex Saldana (126 pounds), Armando Garcia (132 pounds), Angel Rocha (138 pounds), Braeden Birkhead (144 pounds), Mason Garner (150 pounds), Brian Sewell Jr. (157 pounds), Adrian Flores (175 pounds) and Hunter Tipton (285 pounds).

Hartford wrestlers that won matches against Coloma included Chandler Morsaw (106 pounds), Ernesto Rodarte (120 pounds), Alex Saldana (126 pounds), Armando Garcia (132 pounds), Braeden Birkhead (144 pounds), Mason Garner (150 pounds), Brian Sewell Jr. (157 pounds), Mikayla Hartline (165 pounds), Linken Birkhead (175 pounds), Adrian Flores (190 pounds), Angel Sanchez-Martinez (215 pounds) and Shane Phillips (285 pounds).

In the previously mentioned individual district, which was held at Constantine on Saturday, Feb. 11, the Huskies took twelve wrestlers to the competition, with aspirations of moving on to the individual regionals the following weekend. In the end, Hartford will send four wrestlers to the next round of individual competition, including one that took home top honors.

Ernesto Rodarte took the top step of the podium at 113 pounds, as he was victorious in both his matches to take home the gold. He pinned Constantine’s Jace Vavul in 2:31 in the semifinal, putting him into the championship match against Three Rivers’ Jak Monroe. He went on to pin Monroe in the final, in 1:14, to score top honors.

Other wrestlers making their way out of the individual district included Alex Saldana (2nd place at 126 pounds), Braeden Birkhead (3rd place at 144 pounds) and Govani Gonzalez-Perez (4th place at 215 pounds).

Hartford is currently 18-10 on the team dual meet season. The postseason continues with team and individual regionals in the coming week, starting on Wednesday, Feb. 15, when the Huskies travel to Dowagiac to compete in the team regional, along with the host Chieftains, Constantine and Hopkins. The team will finish the week by competing in a pair of individual regionals; the four wrestlers that placed at individual districts will travel to Adrian Madison, on Saturday, Feb. 18, while two ladies, Anya Watkins and Mikayla Hartline, will compete in an all-female individual regional at Cadillac on Sunday, Feb. 19.

Boys Basketball remains above .500 mark

Last week, the Hartford Husky boys varsity basketball team returned to the court for another multi-game stretch of regular season action, as the men played in two road contests over the course of four days. The team came into play with a record of 7-5 on the season but was trying to turn around their recent struggles of late, which has seen the team lose four of their last six games entering the week. The stretch run is upon us, so some of their best basketball needs to be now.

In their first game of the week, a road conference contest at Marcellus against the Wildcats on Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Huskies recent up-and-down stretch continued. They had an outstanding first half and a less-than-stellar second half. This contest saw Hartford hold off a hard-charging Marcellus team in the second half to take home the victory, 56-50.

As mentioned, the Huskies played a great first half, racing out to a 17-9 lead after the opening eight minutes, before extending their lead to 34-19 at halftime. However, the Wildcats got back into the game in the second half, as they used a 12-8 scoring advantage in the third quarter to cut the Hartford lead to 42-31 with eight minutes left. They won the scoreboard battle in the fourth quarter, 19-14, to narrow the final margin further.

Six players scored for the Huskies, including three that finished the night in double figures. Brody Johnson and Zach Truelove led all Hartford scorers with 13 points apiece, while Julien Rodarte chipped in 11 points in the win. Other players finishing in the scoring column included Austin Reyna (9 points), Caiden Smith (8 points) and Dylan Kuehnle (2 points).

In their second game of the week, a road conference contest at Comstock against the Colts on Friday, Feb. 10, the Huskies went up against a team that they had defeated earlier in the year in a close contest, but were without some of their key players. Those key players were back for this game, and many were the reason why Comstock defeated Hartford soundly, 68-43. Each of the four quarters saw the Colts win the scoreboard battle and pull away little-by-little.

Comstock took a 20-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, before extending their advantage to 35-19 at the half. The second half continued the status quo, as the Colts outscored the Huskies over the final two quarters, 33-24 (including 16-11 in the third and 17-13 in the fourth) to put the game very much out of reach.

Seven players scored for the Huskies. Zach Truelove led all Hartford scorers with nine points, while Austin Reyna and Caiden Smith chipped in eight points apiece in the loss. Other players finishing in the scoring column included Brody Johnson (7 points), Emmanuel Yerenas (7 points), Julien Rodarte (3 points) and Dylan Kuehnle (1 point).

Hartford is currently 8-6 on the season and is 7-4 in Southwest 10 Conference play. The men will take the court for three games in the coming week, with just one counting towards the conference standings. The team will have started the week by hosting non-conference opponent, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic, on Monday, Feb. 13, before hosting a second non-conference foe, in Marcellus Howardsville Christian, on Tuesday, Feb. 14. They will finish the week by traveling to Bloomingdale, on Thursday, Feb. 16, for a conference game against the Cardinals.

Girls Basketball finishes week with promise despite 1-2 record

Last week, the Hartford Lady Husky basketball team returned to the court for another action-packed stretch of regular season action, as the team played in three games during the seven-day stretch. The team entered play with a 5-9 record on the season thus far, but this group of ladies have been showing improvement in recent games, including against some tougher competition. The season is down to its final weeks, so their best play has to occur now to achieve success.

In their first game of the week, a home conference contest against the Lady Bulldogs of Centreville on Monday, Feb. 6, the Lady Huskies went up against a team they were scheduled to play in December and January, but was postponed to this date due to illness and weather. The game did not turn out well for Hartford, as they fell in this one by twenty, 47-27. Visiting Centreville dominated the game right out of the gate, as they shutout the Lady Huskies, 10-0, over the opening eight minutes, before extending their lead to 25-8 at the half.

The Lady Bulldogs extended the lead to 42-17 after three quarters, before Hartford showed their resolve by winning the scoreboard battle in the fourth quarter, 10-5, to bring us to the game’s final margin.

Six players scored for the Lady Huskies, including one that finished the night in double figures. Ava Bachman led all Hartford scorers with 13 points, while Brooke Birmele chipped in five points in the loss. Other players finishing in the scoring column included Fantasia Eastman (4 points), Lillian Price (2 points), Abby Valdes (2 points) and Raven Ledesma (1 point).

In their second game of the week, a home conference contest against the Lady ‘Cats of Marcellus on Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Lady Huskies and the Lady ‘Cats matchup was considered a ‘toss-up,’ as both teams came in with nearly identical records (Hartford’s at 5-10, Marcellus’ at 5-9). One team had to win, and it would be the visiting Lady ‘Cats in this one, 51-38.

Unlike the game one night prior, the Lady Huskies started strong in the first quarter, as they took an 18-10 lead after the opening eight minutes, before seeing Marcellus tie the game at half, 25-25, thanks to an 15-7 scoring run in the second quarter. The Lady ‘Cats took a fragile one-point lead after three quarters, 34-33, before dominating the final eight minutes by a margin of 17-5, to turn a tight game into one that looked like a sound victory, but was far from it.

Seven players scored for the Lady Huskies, including one that finished the night in double figures. Ava Bachman led all Hartford scorers with 11 points, while Rylee Deckard chipped in nine points in the loss. Other players finishing in the scoring column included Brooke Birmele (5 points), Abby Valdes (5 points), Rylee Ackerman (3 points), Sianelli Rodriguez (3 points) and Fantasia Eastman (2 points).

In their third game of the week, a home conference contest against the Lady Colts of Comstock on Thursday, Feb. 9, the Lady Huskies looked to get back into the win column against a team they soundly defeated, 47-28, back on Jan. 12. This time around, the same team won with an even bigger margin of victory, as Hartford reigned victorious, 62-18. As fans would think from the final score, the Lady Huskies dominated the scoreboard in all four quarters, leading 20-6 after the opening eight minutes, and extending their lead at halftime to 44-15. The visiting Lady Colts went ice-cold from the field in the second half, scoring just three points (one point in the third quarter and two points in the fourth quarter), while Hartford scored a total of 18 points in those two stanzas, to take home the much-needed victory via the running clock.

Nine players scored for the Lady Huskies, including two that finished the night in double figures. Ava Bachman led all Hartford scorers with 21 points, while Brooke Birmele chipped in 12 points in the win. Other players finishing in the scoring column included Rylee Deckard (9 points), Abby Valdes (5 points), Fantasia Eastman (4 points), Erin Glover (4 points), Rylee Ackerman (3 points), Raven Ledesma (2 points) and Lillian Wolf (2 points).

Hartford is currently 6-11 on the season and is 6-7 in Southwest 10 Conference play. The Lady Huskies will take the court three times in the coming week; like the men, only one of those games will count towards the conference standings. The team will have started the week by playing non-conference games on back-to-back nights; they will have traveled to Marcellus Howardsville Christian on Tuesday, Feb. 14, before returning home to take on Saint Joseph Michigan Lutheran on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The ladies will finish the week by taking on the Lady Cardinals of Bloomingdale, in conference action at home, on Friday, Feb. 17.

As always, GO GREEN! GO WHITE!

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