OWOSSO — State champion.
That’s the goal
Owosso senior wrestler Colton Blaha has mapped out for himself this winter.
“I feel like I have the teammates and coaches and people around me to do that,” he said. “I’m really excited for this year.”
The three-time state qualifier and two-time state placer, who is 132-26 in his career, finished third in the state last winter at 152 pounds with a 51-5 mark.
Blaha, who also was eighth as a freshman, won All-American honors this past summer in Orlando, Florida. He faced several champions from other states at the Disney Duals and came home with an 8-2 record.
He will be wrestling in the 160-pound weight class this winter. Owosso’s first action is set for Dec. 11 at Williamston.
Head coach Ryan Clevenger said Blaha is one of the hardest-working wrestlers he’s ever coached.
“He’s cut out of a different cloth,” Clevenger said. “He’s the first one in the room and the last one to leave. Every day, he’s just non-stop work. He’s a workhorse. I just love having him in the room ”
When asked what makes Blaha so hard to beat, Clevenger said it’s not his strength or quickness, but his heart.
“He has a burning desire to be the best,” he said. “That’s what he trains for and is training to be every day. Every day he brings it.”
Blaha went 3-1 at last year’s state finals, opening with wins over Robert Buckland of Niles, 9-5, and Isaac Ramirez of Adrian, 8-4. In the semifinals, Blaha lost 3-2 to Austin Boone of Lowell, who would eventually capture his third straight state crown. Blaha took third place in Division 2 by beating Vincent Scaramuzzino of Croswell-Lexington, 3-2.
“My ultimate goal was to be Owosso’s first two-time state champion, but I fell a little short last year,” Blaha said “I feel ready this year, though.”
Blaha, the Flint Metro League champion last season at 160, anticipates Caleb Fish of Eaton Rapids as one challenger he will have to deal with. Fish, a senior, went 44-1 last season and won the D2 title at 145 pounds.
“We’ve faced each other a few times,” he said. “We wrestled this summer at wrestling camp and I lost to him, 7-4.”
Blaha said he began wrestling seriously in fifth and sixth grade. His big influence was his step brother, Jon Davis.
“He was an eighth-grader and I was a fifth-grader and we started wrestling in our basement,” Blaha said. “We wrestled each other and I always got my butt kicked and I hated to lose.”
Owosso finished seventh last season in the Flint Metro League. Blaha said Owosso will be aiming for a district title this season.
“We have a lot of senior leaders coming back,” said Blaha. “Me, Kristian Keyes, Joey Devares and then we have a junior who is very good and a couple of talented freshman coming up. I’m pretty excited for the season.”
Blaha is coming off a football season where he excelled on both sides of the ball. The linebacker and running back recorded 101 tackles and also rushed for 1,002 yards and 15 touchdowns on 162 carries.
“When he was not carrying the ball, he was devastating people with his blocking,” Owosso football coach Devin Pringle said. “He was the hardest-working kid I’ve had in a decade. Defensively, he primarily played outside linebacker and was strong, tenacious and outstanding in every way.”
In Week 6, Pringle said, Blaha was moved to inside linebacker and he got to plays that were almost unthinkable, but showed up clear as day on film.
Blaha delivered a season-high 17 tackles against Ortonville Brandon this season.
He rushed for 131 yards and three TDs during a season-ending 64-42 win over Stockbridge. In that game, Blaha also had eight tackles and two sacks. Colton’s brother, Hunter Blaha, rushed for 167 yards and one TD, and Noah Crites tied a school record with five TD runs.
“Beating Stockbridge in the last game (on the road) I think really showed our true potential,” Colton Blaha said. “It seemed like we all came together and we all played together as one whole.”
Blaha has also competed in baseball and track and field at Owosso. He plans to wrestle in college but has made no decision yet on where he will go.
“I’ll be studying physical education and I want to be a coach in the future,” he said.