Bailey, Noreyko medal at State Finals
Houghton Lake junior Dalton Bailey is the Division 3 Runner-up at 171 pounds, and Roscommon senior Dustin Noreyko wrestled to a fifth place finish at 119 pounds.
Bailey made it to the championship match, where he fell to State Champion Dillon Francisco (who came into the tournament ranked number one) by a score of 11-0. On the way to the final, Bailey scored a 7-5 overtime victory over junior Dan Cornish of Capac, a 12-7 decision over junior Cory Livingston of Otsego and a 13-4 major decision over Mason Geno of Essexville-Garber. Geno took fourth and Cornish went on to win fifth place in the weight class.
“He had a great weekend,” said Houghton Lake wrestling Coach Lon Cook of Bailey’s performance at state. “He came in under the radar and made his way to the state final.” Cook said that although Bailey “had beaten some good wrestlers” during the regular season, at state “he surprised some people with just how good a wrestler he is.”
“He put a lot of hard work in it and busted his butt all year long,” said Bailey’s father Jon of the effort and discipline his son put in which led to him achieving a second place finish at state. “He gave up hanging out with his friends for training all summer.”
“We’re very proud of him,” said Bailey’s mother Melissa, adding that Dalton “gives God thanks first for keeping him healthy and strong in mind, body and spirit.” The Baileys said their son started wrestling at the age of seven and that since moving to Houghton Lake in 2006, along with his Houghton Lake coaches Cook and Assistant Coach Ryan King, he has been working with coaches from the Central Michigan University intercollegiate wrestling program including assistant coaches Steve Brown and Eric Neil.
State Championship and a Border Wars National Championship, both of which he won when he was in eighth grade. In addition to taking another shot at winning a state championship next season, Bailey will travel to Japan in June with Coach Cook, teammate David Duncan and wrestlers from Ogemaw and Pinconning as part of a wrestling exchange program which he also participated in as a freshman. He is also considering participation in the Disney Duals national tournament this summer as part of a select team from Michigan.
It was a longer haul for Noreyko to make his way to fifth place in the 119-pound weight class. After pinning senior Jason Palmer of Clawson and scoring a 7-2 decision over Chance Lisik of Hemlock, he was pinned in the championship semi-final match by eventual champion senior Stephen Ireland of Richmond. He then lost a 10-6 decision to junior Andy Caffrey of Parchment in the consolation semi-final, which put him into the fight for fifth place with Lisik, which he won 4-2.
After medaling, Noreyko said he “felt terrible about taking fifth,” because “I trained for the championship.” He said he felt he missed his chance against Ireland, a match that would have put him in the championship final.
“I had him (Ireland) pinned and made a stupid mistake, and he eventually won the tournament,” said Noreyko.
Roscommon Assistant Coach Mark Jernigan said Noreyko “made a real good run at it,” putting himself in the position to make it to the final. “Unfortunately, wrestling is a sport where sometimes the best wrestler doesn’t win. You have to have luck on your side to win a championship too.”
This year’s tournament was Noreyko’s fourth trip to individual state, and his second time placing in the Division 3 119-pound weight class. As a junior in 2011, he wrestled to a sixth place finish.
Roscommon sophomore Caleb Jernigan was on his second trip to individual state this year, and after losing by technical fall to eventual state champion senior Nick Ross of Comstock Park, scored his first state tournament win in a consolation round bout with junior James Demember of Lake Fenton, 5-2.
After scoring the win, Jernigan said “I’ll be way more than happy when I win the next one, because then I’ll know I’m one of the top eight in the state. My dream this year is to place, and I’ve been working hard.” His dream almost came true in the consolation second round, when he and sophomore Johny Johnson of Otsego wrestled to a 6-6 tie in regulation. In the first overtime, however, Johnson scored a take down to win the match 8-6, and eventually wrestled his way to fifth place.
Jernigan said it was “one of the greatest feelings in the world to get my first win” at state, and that his trip there in 2011 had been “an eye opener.” The underclassman plans to spend the summer preparing for another run at individual state next season, and the ice-breaking win this year could provide a little more steam to draw on.
Buck teammate junior Drake Lewandowski made his first trip to individual state this year, and came away with the following impression: “It was tough.”
After suffering a loss to junior Luke Pahl of Comstock Park by a 9-1 major decision, Lewandowski was put out of the tournament by Matt Somers of Saginaw Swan Valley, who scored a first-round pin against him. But the experience he gained in the losses gave Lewandowski a clear idea of what it takes to place at state.
“I have to get stronger if I want to get here next year,” he said.