Six winter teams qualify for this year’s State Finals

By Erika Greco

It’s no surprise that Walled Lake Central’s winter sports teams made their mark at State Finals this year. The gymnastics, swimming, girls’ hockey, wrestling, bowling, and ski teams did not spare their competition while taking States by storm. The figure skating team also looks to do the same as their State Finals competition approaches,

Most recently, senior Samantha Pulgini looked to smash the competition in the State Championships on Saturday, March 8.  This was her third year qualifying for States. She competed on the vault, beam, and floor. She placed 7th on the balance beam with a score of 9.000, 36th on the floor exercise with a score of 8.325, and 45th on the vault with a score of 8.300.  “This weekend didn’t go exactly as planned.  I went into it with hopes of placing on floor and beam, and most importantly, having a blast competing for the last time,” explained Pulgini.  “Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this last season of mine…I also learned that it isn’t always about the final outcome, but it is instead about the incredible journey and hard work that got you there.”

Six swimmers from the men’s swim team went to States on March 6: junior Chase Weber, senior Stephen Lee, junior Clay Lemke, freshman Josh Pascua, and junior Taketo Wakamoto. They placed 14th in the 200 Medley relay as a team, just a second off the school record.  Freshman Josh Pascua swam all relays and two individual events, placing 19th in the 200 IM with a 2:00.45 and 30th in the 100 Fly with a 54.56.   Chase Weber swam all relays and placed 40th in the 100 Backstroke.  Lee finished 3rd overall in the State in the 100 breaststroke and set a new school record with the time of 56.97. The team ended the event in 24th place overall.

“The 2014 State Finals were bittersweet for Central Swimming, Lee had the highest finish for any WLC swimmer in the history of the program,” stated Coach Brandon.  “Placing well with swimmers who had never competed at the State Finals bodes well for next year’s team because all of them come back with great experience and confidence in their ability to compete at the highest level.”

The Walled Lake girls’ hockey team, which draws players from Central, Northern, and Western, took to the ice at the 2014 Michigan Metro Girls high school hockey league (MMGHSHL) State Tournament on Saturday, March 8.  They beat Bloomfield Hills in the Division 2 quarterfinals to take on and beat the Mercy Marlins in the semifinals. They moved on to take on the Plymouth-Canton-Salem Penguins, but lost a close game of 2-1 to finish as runners-up.

Division 1 All-State Wrestlers Ben Freeman (freshman), Daniel Shear (junior), and Alex Sovel (junior) qualified and competed at the State Finals on February 28. Freeman, competing in the 103 lbs weight class, defeated Carl Antrassian of Monroe HS to win first place as Michigan’s State Champion.  Shear, at 119 lbs, took third place over Noah Gonser of Grand Blanc, and Sovel, at 189 lbs, took seventh defeating Mitchell Gross of Salem.

As for bowling, both the boys’ and girls’ teams made it to States, held from February 28-29 at Sunnybrook.  This was the girls’ eighth consecutive year at States and they took 8th with a score of 3348, but only the top six teams moved on.   Seniors Ashley Bickel and Kylie Hornsby qualified to compete individually.  Hornsby finished with an 1171, and Bickel a 1085.  The boys took 6th place with a score of 3666, but were knocked out after the first round to U of D Jesuit who ended up placing first. Junior Jon Bratton made a noteworthy contribution to the team with a perfect game of 300.  Freshman Matt Abraham qualified for states individually and finished with a 1056.

Talented senior skier Erica Katz also made it to States individually qualifying for the giant slalom and took 45th on February 24 at Schuss Mountain.  “To prepare I spent just a lot of time training and running gates up north.  I trained at Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, and Schuss where States were held,” explained Katz.

Junior figure skaters Paige Bremner, Carly Burwell, Hanna Baldrica and the rest of Lakes Area Varsity Figure Skating Team are preparing for the State Championships. The competition will be held at the Suburban Rink in East Lansing, and the ladies will be skating for their third consecutive time in Individual events on Saturday, March 22 (8 am-8 pm) and in Team events on Sunday, March 23 (8 am-5 pm) against district teams all over Michigan.

“Our spins are good and our moves are great. We practice lots with jumps. Jumps were our weak point in our last competition,” said Lenore Hiscoe, Head Coach of the squad since it began in 2002. “We prepare well. If we practice hard then we should just go out and do the same thing at the competition.”

It takes drive, perseverance, and dedication to make it to a state level, and these students have done just that. Congratulations!

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