Gaylord Returns to State Quarterfinals
GAYLORD – After a one-year absence, the Gaylord wrestling program is back in the state quarterfinals.
Seeded third, the Blue Devils will take on six-seed Goodrich in a Division 2 quarterfinal at Kalamazoo’s Wings Event Center on Friday.
Gaylord claimed its third regional title in four years with a big, 44-27, win over four-time state champion St. Johns last Wednesday. The win over the Red Wings avenged losses to St. Johns in last year’s regional final and in the 2016 state semifinals.
“I think they expected it, you know,” longtime coach Jerry LaJoie said. “It was a nice win, but they expected to win and so hopefully we can go into this weekend … and we’re going to expect a win as well. If the coaches do their job and the kids do their job, we should come out on top.”
At 35-1, Gaylord has won 11 consecutive Big North Conference championships and 10 straight district titles. Under LaJoie’s direction, the Blue Devils have won 15 conference, 14 district and six regional championships since 1993.
With all of that success, Gaylord is still seeking its first state title and state final bid.
“We’re working harder and harder each year that I’ve been here,” senior 125-pounder Derek Giallombardo said. “We’ve just upped our game further and further just towards that team state title and that individual state title we’re all wanting.”
Gaylord faces a Goodrich (25-5) team that handed Marysville a 51-22 loss in last week’s quarterfinal. The Martians are no strangers to the state’s biggest stage, having won the Division 3 title in 2008 and 2009 and earning runner-up spots in Division 3 in 1999 and 1997.
“I’m hoping we get a victory over Goodrich and I hope we win it as a team overall and get rings for everyone,” sophomore 112-pounder Chayse LaJoie said.
Gaylord and Goodrich will face off at 6:45 p.m. on Friday.