TEMPERANCE -- Their winter competing as a team may have ended short of the state wrestling semifinals, but Bedford put the finishing touches on an impressive season with a fine showing at the Michigan Division 1 individual state tournament.
Led by junior 112-pounder Mitch Rogaliner, who became the sixth wrestler in school history to earn a second state championship, the Kicking Mules placed five of their six state competitors among the top eight.
For his part, Rogaliner (46-2) gained some revenge en route to his title.
After pinning Rochester's Josh Wood at 5:12 of the 103 title match in 2010, Rogaliner was ready for repeat when he reached last year's 103 final. But he dropped a 2-1 decision to Shayne Wireman of Holt to spoil those plans.
"I started the offseason knowing that I had to work on different things," Rogaliner said. "I worked on those, and kept working on them hard during the offseason. It was about hard work and dedication.
"My top goal was to get back to the finals and regain my title. It just so happened that I faced the kid who beat me [in 2011 final] in the semis, which is usually my best match. So that kind of worked out well."
As fate would have it, Rogaliner and Wireman matched up in this year's 112 semifinals, where Rogaliner prevailed with a pin at 5:48.
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He then decisioned Canton's Ben Griffin 9-5 in the championship.
"[Wireman] was the one person that I knew I had to beat to get my state championship back," Rogaliner said. "I was determined to get back what was mine, and nothing was going to stop me from getting back to that goal of being on top of the [awards] podium.
"The reason I had put in all this hard work and dedication was just for this one match and this one goal. But I knew if a won the semis but lost in the finals it was going to be for nothing, so that was huge."
Just as the goal for that second title began almost as soon as Rogaliner got off the mat from his disappointing 2011 defeat, now he turns his attentions to a new goal of becoming the schoo's first three-time state champion.
"To be one of six wrestlers in Bedford history to win two state titles is huge," said Rogaliner, who has a 152-12 career record. "Going for a third championship will be a huge motivation for me, plus the fact that I'll be a senior and that'll be my last year."
Bedford also had two state runner-up finishes.
For the second straight year heavyweight Logan Rimmer suffered heartbreaking loss in the 285 final.
In 2011, Rimmer was a considered a surprise finalist, and fell 4-1 in the title match.
This time, Rimmer (47-2), a senior, worked his way back to the final, only to lose 2-1 against Nick Gajdzik of Rochester Hills Stoney Creek.
Brandon Sunday (48-6), a junior, experienced a similar fate, reaching the 189 final before falling to Kevin Beazley of Detroit Catholic Central 6-0.
Placing third at 215 was senior Bryan Smith (45-2), who lost 7-6 in overtime in the semifinals against eventual champion Prescott Line of Oxford, then regrouped for two more wins, including an 8-7 decision over Serge Andreon of Stoney Creek in the third-place match.
The other Bedford state placer was senior Al Regnier, who dropped his first match 6-2 before winning two consolation matches to place eighth at 140.
A sixth Bedford wrestler also reached the state tournament, but Mitch Pawlak lost his quarterfinal match at 119 and then again in the consolation bracket and did not reach a top-eight spot.
"I thought that was a big feat for us," Rogaliner said of the Mules' having five state placers. "To have six go to state and have five place is huge."