Jerek Crim spent much of year wondering when an opportunity to wrestle would present itself.
For the Lansing Eastern sophomore, 152 pounds is his natural fit, unless of course your teammate is Guibenson St. Jean.
Bumping to 160 pounds would be a natural solution unless of course your teammate is Elijah Dennis.
Quaker coach Adam Fedewa cleared the path for Crim, bumping Dennis up to 171 pounds and inserting Crim at 160.
The Quaker made the most of the opportunity Saturday as he followed up a first-round bye with a pin against Grand Ledge’s Nick Cugini in 1:42 of the first period. Crim ended his day with a pin in 19 seconds of the first period against Jackson’s Roman Palumbo, earning him a Capitol Area Athletic Conference Blue championship.
“A conference title never occurred to me until today,” Crim explained afterwards. “Coach Fedewa inspired me.”
The chiseled framed Dennis wasn’t deterred a bit wrestling at 171 pounds.
“Dennis is a gamer, a full boat, he likes the spot light,” Fedewa said. “Crim is happy-go-lucky until you get him on the mat and he becomes a different kid.”
Dennis, who finished third in the conference last year wrestling at 152 pounds, advanced to the title round with a pin in 1:41 of the first period against Lansing Everett’s Tony Norris. He claimed his first league title with a 10-1 major decision over the Comets’ Joey Kolwick.
“It feels great. I’ve been working so hard in practice and have been working out after practice with Guibenson,” Dennis explained. “I’m at my best when I apply pressure and keep pounding and pounding until the opponent tires.”
The Quakers despite advancing five wrestlers into the finals and nine into the consolation round, finished second Grand Ledge. The Comets tallied 241 points. Lansing Eastern finished with 224.5 while Holt was third at 219 followed by East Lansing 114, Jackson 97.5, Okemos 27, Lansing Sexton 26, and Lansing Everett 24.
Grand ledge led Eastern by 25 going into the finals. The Comets struggled out of the gate losing its first six matches in the finals.
“It was a little struggle in the finals. It seemed like it was the conference against Grand Ledge,” said winning Comet coach Steve Delaney.
Grand Ledge crowned four CAAC Blue league champions, Dalton Kirkey (140), Curtiss Brownell (145), Nick Verran (189) and Corey Arnouts (285).
“Our kids battled all day long and in some cases wrestled above their seed,” Delaney explained.
Eastern’s St. Jean (32-5) a favorite at 152 pounds, got stuck in a headlock and was pinned in the finals against Holts’ Jeff Lyon.
“Guibenson will battle back from this just fine, you watch,” Fedewa explaimed afterwards.
Two other Eastern wrestlers lost in the title match. They were Khalil Perkins (140), and Jon Sarmiento (189).
Lansing Sexton’s Kyle Duke placed fourth in the field at 189. He lost in the consolation round to East Lansing’s Treyvon Speed.
Other CAAC wrestlers to earn titles on Saturday were Holts’ Ben Gomez, 103; Shayne Wireman, 112; Mino Trevino, 119; Dominick Trevino, 130; Drew Dyer, 135; and Lyon 152.’Five Quakers took third. They were Shukarani Nybenda (103), Aaron David (125), Juaquin Sanchez (130), Diego Molina (135), and Travis Stouffer (285).
Lansing Everett’s Jacqwese Williams was third in the 160 pound class.