The individual wrestling state finals kicked off on Thursday afternoon at The Palace of Auburn Hills with hundreds of wrestlers from around the state hitting the mat.
Lake Orion sophomore opening match was a battle against Lincoln Park's Jake Jones (125 pounds).
Neither wrestler scored a takedown in a match that went all the way into final overtime. Highlen was able to escape to standing in the extra time to advance with a 2-1 win.
"I just had to keep moving all the time," Highlen said.
Highlen's best chance at a takedown came in the first overtime. He had Jones bouncing up and down on one leg, but Highlen couldn't sweep him to the mat. Part of the problem was Jones' positioning. He was right on the edge of the circle, so Highlen had to go for the takedown while pulling him back toward the center of the mat.
The sophomore was exhausted after the win, but was thrilled to advance to the quarterfinals. Highlen lost both of his matches at the state finals last year.
"I was just happy to be here last year I think," Highlen said.
He'll wrestle Davison sophomore Dominic Russ in the quarterfinals Friday afternoon. Russ pinned Grand Haven's Joshua Juchartz less than a minute into the first round.
Patch is covering all three days of the tournament, providing updates from our live blog. Make sure to follow along on