State Champ: Zac Johnson wins state title

Written by David Green.


It’s time to remove the word “nemesis” from Zac Johnson’s dictionary.

Take a black Magic Marker and scratch it right out.

Johnson had a nemesis—a foe he just couldn’t conquer—until Saturday night.front.wrestle

Now it’s Zac Johnson who’s on top.

In a spectacular turn of events, the Morenci senior finally defeated Addison’s Tom Schneider 5-1 in the finals of the Michigan state wrestling tournament to win the Div. IV championship at 189 pounds.

Schneider came into the tournament as the defending champion, looking to cap his high school career with an unbeaten season.

Almost, but not quite, as Johnson became Morenci’s 12th state wrestling champion.

Schneider had notched half a dozen wins against Johnson in the past, including two decisions earlier in the season.

When it came to the final meeting of the two standout seniors, it wasn’t a matter of taking a new strategy into the bout for Johnson. it was more a matter of attitude.

“I got really pumped,” he said. “I got really aggressive. I was trying to take advantage of every second out there.”

That he did, agrees coach Scott Clark.

“Everything Zac did stopped him,” he said. “This time Schneider couldn’t take him down.”

Schneider’s only point came in the first period when Johnson was called for stalling.

“In the second period I put him on his back and got two points,” Johnson said.

He added a point in the third period through an escape, then finished it off.

“The last points were from a take-down and that pretty much sealed it.”

“From start to finish,” Clark said, “he just handled him completely.”

That concluded what Johnson saw as a developing trend. He lost in the county meet by an 8-0 margin, then closed it to 5-2 when Schneider took first in the regional finals.

“I think he knew I was coming for him,” Johnson said. “I was narrowing the gap.”

All of this from a season that nearly didn’t happen.

Johnson decided last year to give basketball a try in his senior season. He still hoped to wrestle on weekends, if he gained the cooperation of coaches.

Then came a case of infectious mononucleosis that eventually led to hospitalization. It also led him back onto the wrestling mat.

“After mono, once I began getting into shape, I decided to wrestle since that’s what I’ve been doing,” he said. “Stick with what you know.”

It took some time to get back into the swing of things and he qualified for the state tournament with an 18-3 record—fewer than half the matches he would have had in a typical season.

But 22-3 will do just fine for this year as he joins other members of his family in wrestling fame. His father, Eric, placed third in the state, his uncle Karl was a champion and his uncle Kurt scored two firsts, a second and a third.

Johnson closes out his career with a 126-20 record—only two of the losses were pins—and a first, second and third in three years of state finals competition.

    – March 14, 2007
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016