By Dan Robelen / WLAA
It’s not something that happens every day, or even every year. In fact, it’s been three years since Pioneer sent a wrestler to compete for a Michigan wrestling state title.
This year, senior Steven Oliverio made it happen.
Wrestling at 130 pounds, he fought his way through districts and a very tough region to make it to Ford Field and wrestle in the state individual championship tournament. Aware the scale of the achievement, Oliverio said, “I’m just glad to be here, to compete.”
Pioneer head coach Leo Aponte said, “I think it’s a great achievement for Steven himself. He really has had an exciting run in the last 30 days. We’re really proud of him. He’s in that top 20 percent of the best wrestlers in the state of Michigan.”
Oliverio’s first match, a 7-2 loss on points to James Rivers of Romeo, sent him to a do-or-die match against Kenneth Crutchfield, a senior from Macomb Dakota. The match was a tight, back and forth scrap. The wrestlers exchanged hard-fought points.
Wrestling aggressively on his feet throughout, Oliverio hit a takedown that would have given him the lead late in the third period, but one of his feet came down just outside the out-of-bounds line. He took another shot with seconds left in the match, but this time, Crutchfield stopped the shot and won the scramble, scoring with just 2 seconds left to win the match.
“In Washtenaw County, we have some good wrestling,” Coach Aponte said. “You look at programs like Saline, Dexter and others. Saline qualified one, Dexter qualified one, and we qualified one. We told Steven, ‘You should be proud to be part of this elite status.’”
MAIN PHOTO: Steven Oliverio secures an escape. Photo by Dan Robelen