MONTAGUE – It’s a lot more fun to win a championship match in dramatic fashion.
And it’s a lot more satisfying to win the title by beating someone who used to beat you a lot.
Montague senior Tristan Winkleblack experienced both of those emotions at Saturday’s Greater Muskegon Athletic Association wrestling tournament in his home gym.
Winkleblack won the 150-pound division championship with a 9-7 overtime victory over Darnell Mack of Whitehall in the finals.
“It was tough,” Winkleblack said about the effort he needed to capture his second career city title. “We were both super exhausted. But I had a little more energy and conditioning left.”
Winkleblack held a 7-6 lead late in the third and final period before Mack earned a point by escaping to tie the match up. Then Winkleblack won the match and earned the championship by scoring first in OT.
“lt was super special,” Winkleblack said about the competitive match. “It was a battle between my buddy Darnell and I. We’ve been wrestling each other since middle school. He always used to beat up on me, so it felt good to come back and beat up on him. But he’s a great person and a friend.”
Whitehall’s Jackson Cook wins a title after two years off
While Whitehall may have lost that final, the Vikings easily won the team championship, their second straight and 16th in 17 years.
The Vikings finished with 242.5 points to take first while Reeths-Puffer finished second with 157. Fruitport was third with 152, followed by Montague (108), Orchard View (90.5), Mona Shores (81.5), Muskegon Catholic (61.5), Muskegon (50), Oakridge (38), North Muskegon (23), Ravenna (13) and Holton (3).
One of the more impressive individual champions for Whitehall was Jackson Cook, who pinned Orchard View’s Jaxon Tuttle just 40 seconds into the match.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Cook about the victory, which game him his first city championship. “It’s always special to come out here and win city going against guys I’ve known for a long time.”
The most impressive part of Cook’s success is that before this season, he hadn’t wrestled since his freshman year.
“I love it,” said Cook about getting back into the sport and improving his season record to 24-0 with the city title. “I came back out just for the team. To come out here and help us by getting a city title is pretty special.”
Whitehall assistant coach Craig Christensen, who was in charge of the Vikings, admits it’s been great to see Cook have success in his return to the mat.
“He’s such a nice kid,” said Christensen about the senior, who returned to the mat to enjoy a final season with his brother Shane Cook, who won the championship in the 285-pound weight class on Saturday. “We’re happy to have him. His mindset is all about helping the teamm which is special. It’s really nice for him to get to spend this time with his brother.”
While both Cook brothers won city titles, the only other Viking to capture a title was Wyatt Jenkins in the 175-weight class.
The Vikings made up for that by winning a lot of matches in the other weight classes. A total of 14 Whitehall wrestlers finished in at least fourth place in their respective classes.
Taking second place were Mack (150), Ryne Christensen (138), Blake English (144), Ryan Goodrich (157), Blake Morningstar (215), Nolan Taranko (120), and Caden Varela (132).
Whitehall’s Cody Manzo (106) finished in third place while Liam Waller (113), Max Krukowski (126), and Thayden Reed (165) finished fourth.
“We’re a young team,” Christensen said. “We had three juniors and two seniors in the lineup yesterday, but had 10 guys in the finals. We had a couple more in the consolation rounds and that in itself is just so special.”
GMAA CITY WRESTLING TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND
138: Kaden Malotke (Reeths-Puffer) 11-4 decision over Ryne Christensen (Whitehall)
144: Nash Cooper (Fruitport) 10-1 major decision over Blake English (Whitehall)
150: Tristan Winkleblack (Montague) 9-7 overtime decision over Darnell Mack (Whitehall)
157: Hunter Leonard (Fruitport) pinfall (1:46) over Ryan Goodrich (Whitehall)
165: Easten Cook (Muskegon Catholic) 5-2 decision over Sage Secrest (Reeths-Puffer)
175: Wyatt Jenkins (Whitehall) pinfall (3:30) over Nyzirre Wynn (Muskegon)
190: Jackson Cook (Whitehall) pinfall (0:40) over Jaxon Tuttle (Orchard View)
215: Caleb O’Neal (Fruitport) pinfall (2:52) over Blake Morningstar (Whitehall)
285: Shane Cook (Whitehall) pinfall (4:13) over Nathan Stafford (Reeths-Puffer)
106: Mario Curiel (Mona Shores) pinfall (5:32) over Aquila Payne (Orchard View)
113: Jake Rozycki (Reeths-Puffer) 5-0 decision over Kyle Holt (Fruitport)
120: Roan Cooper (Fruitport) 6-4 decision over Nolan Taranko (Whitehall)
126: Ian Cook (Reeths-Puffer) 9-0 major decision over Anthony Cage (Mona Shores)
132: Christopher Aebig (Montague) 15-9 decision over Caden Varela (Whitehall)