With a 40-6 record, Sturgis sophomore Luke Carver had every reason to be confident heading into Saturday’s Division 2 individual wrestling regional at Mason. But one name on the 152-pound bracket could have caused his poise to disappear.
After winning his first match by technical fall, Carver lost a 6-4 decision to an opponent from Stevensville Lakeshore, which meant a trip to the elimination round on the consolation side of the board. That’s where Carver saw Kenny Grayer’s name hovering below his on the bracket.
Grayer dealt Carver three losses this season — a fourth would cost Carver a spot in the state finals.
“I was nervous and started thinking about how it was all on the line on that match, but I wanted this bad,” Carver said. “It’s all I have been thinking about since last year and I was determined today.”
The first three rounds passed without a winner and tied at 3-3. Then a tense overtime expired without either grappler scoring a point. Then a second. And in the third extra period, with 30 seconds remaining, Grayer took a shot, Carver hit a switch and reversal for two points and rode his opponent out for the victory.
“When I won I think that was the best feeling I have had this year,” he said.
Though better seeding at the state tourney was on the line in the third-place match, Carver’s loss to Jackson Northwestern’s Tristan Elkins didn’t at all put a damper on a successful day.
Saturday did mark the final competition of the year for two of his teammates, however. Senior Austin Smith closed his final campaign with a 31-13 record after dropping his two matches at 130 pounds, and sophomore Anthony Neal ended the year 29-12 at 160 following two losses.