Division 3 Team Preview
MI Grappler High School Analyst Steve@michigangrappler.com
Ranked Wrestlers – 8
Key Returners: Kenny Reinhart (#8 103), Jalen Torres (119), Brad Scholl (135, State Qualifier), Anthony Borello (140, Regional Qualifier), Doug Rojem (#1 145, 2X State Placer), Sean Marogen (152, State Qualifier), Liam Grantham (#5 160, State Placer), Todd Olson (#2 171, State Runner-Up), Teddy Warren (#4 189, State Qualifier), Garret Thornsberry (215, Regional Qualifier), Jay Sroufe (#1 215, State Placer), Jon Marogen (#2 285, State Placer)
Key Losses: Brandon Atchley (130, 2X State Placer), Zac Newhouse (160, State Placer)
Impact Newcomers: Zack Blevins (112, Freshman), Brendan O’Connor (#5 125, 2X State Placer), Travis Sproles (130, 2010 State Runner-Up)
Outlook: Following the graduation of what was arguably the best senior class in team history, many expected 2011-2012 to be a down year for Dundee. However, this was far from the case as the Vikings showed why they are consistently one of the state’s elite programs, making a run to the state finals where they fell to three-time reigning champion Richmond. Now after minimal graduation losses, the Vikings enter the year ranked atop Division 3 and poised for a run at a state title after runner-up finishes in four of the past five seasons. Competition will be plentiful though with long-time nemesis Richmond intent on retaining their title, and rising powers Whitehall and Birch Run also loaded and intent on claiming D3 supremacy.
A big part of what makes this year’s Dundee
team special is the talent they feature in their
upperweights. The Vikings have a legitimate state
title contender at every weight from 160-285,
and experience is abundant. At 285lbs the team will
rely on #2-ranked Jon Marogen, a senior who has
wrestled in a lot of big duals for the Vikings and was
a state runner-up last March. Proceeding Marogen
in the lineup will be another veteran, D3’s top-ranked
215lbr Jay Sroufe. Filling the 189lbs spot will be
another stud, #4 ranked Teddy Warren. After falling a
match short of placing at last year’s state meet
Warren turned in a very impressive performance at
October’s Grappler Fall Classic, and appears primed
for a huge junior season. Next in line is Todd Olson,
yet another senior in the Viking’s lineup, and D3’s #2
ranked wrestler at 171lbs after a runner-up
performance at last spring’s state meet. Capping
this gifted set of big guys is senior Liam Grantham, a
key component of last year’s team who begins the year positioned in the #5 spot of the 160lbs rankings.
They may not quite be able to match the veteran potency of the 160-285 stretch of the lineup, but Dundee is rock solid from 103-152 as well. Leading the way is top-ranked Doug Rojem, a junior who is among D3’s individual title favorites at 145lbs. Another with impressive credentials is newcomer Brendan O’Connor, a two-time all-state transfer currently slotted as D3’s #5 125lbr. Further bolstering the lowerweight corps is 2010 state-runner up Travis Sproles, who is rumored to be back with the team at 130lbs. Rounding out Dundee’s fleet of ranked wrestlers is sophomore Ken Reinhart, currently holding the #8 spot at 103lbs. Depth and balance does not appear to be an issue either, as established wrestlers such Brad Scholl, Jalen Torres, Sean Marogen and Anthony Borello are all likely state qualifiers set to compete in the starting lineup this season.
Ranked Wrestlers – 8
Key Returners: Austin Vannatter (#9 119, State Qualifier), Alex Muzljakovich (#10 119), Nick Burg (#3 125, State Placer), Austin Cattera (#3 130, State Placer), Nate Henke (#2 135, State Placer), Devin Skatzka (#1 140, State Champion), Jake McKiernan (#8 160), Austin Peltier (215)
Key Losses: Stephen Ireland (119, 2X State Champion), Dustin Pitcel (125, 2011 State Runner-Up), Garrett Edwards (140, State Champion), Beau Barton (145, State Qualifier), Scott Gulette (152, State Qualifier), John Gaffney (171, State Placer), Eric Boyd (189, State Placer), Greg Sebastian (215, 2X State Placer), Josh Younk (285, State Placer)
Impact Newcomers: Aaron Kilburn (#7 103, Freshman), Graham Barton (112, Freshman), Connor McDill (112, D1 State Placer)
Outlook: To put it mildly, it feels absolutely criminal to rank Richmond anything lower than #1 to begin the year; that is how incredible their program has been. The 2011-2012 season saw the Blue Devils win the Division 3 state title for the third consecutive season, and the sixth time since the year 2000. Time and time again the Blue Devils lose gaudy senior classes, and each time they seem to overcome their losses and reload with astounding consistency. Oftentimes in the past they been unable to match the star power of D3 rivals, but have overcame this with an unrivaled combination of depth and balance combined with a knack for saving their best performance for when it matters most. Coaches Day and Hamblin will be hard pressed to make up for the seven graduated state placers, but the past has proven the talent well to be incredibly deep in Richmond.
Due to the departure of nearly last year’s entire cast of upper weights, the Blue Devils will rely more heavily on their little guys who appear to be the strength of this year’s team. At 103lbs Richmond gains the services of Aaron Kilburn who begins his freshman season ranked #7 in D3. They will also get a big lift through the addition of transfer Connor McDill, a Division 1 state placer last year set to join the lineup in January. As the lineup progresses the flexibility Richmond has relied upon in the past is once again present. Both #9 Austin Vannatter and #10 Alex Muzljakovich are currently ranked at 119lbs for the Blue Devils, ensuring they will have the option to maneuver their lineup in a number of different ways. The weight classes between 125-140 represent the strongest part of the lineup, with all four wrestlers currently ranked in the top three at their weight class. At 125lbs Nick Burg is back and ranked #2 in D3 after a breakout sophomore year that saw the sophomore earn a third place finish at the state meet in his first full year of varsity competition. Following Burg is senior Austin Cattera at 130lbs who currently holds a #3 ranking in D3 after an all-state finish last season. Another senior, Nate Henke, will man the subsequent 135lbs spot. Over the first three years of his career Henke has been a key asset towards the Blue Devil’s monumental team success, and is ranked #2 at 135lbs after placing third at the same weight last spring. Rounding out this stellar stretch of the lineup is Devin Skatzka, Richmond’s most prolific wrestler. Skatzka returns after an exceptional freshman season that saw him capture an individual Division 3 title, and carries a #1 ranking at 140lbs. Although Richmond is clearly loaded from 103-140, the top half of the lineup raises some questions and concerns. Only one starter from between 145-285 returns for the Blue Devil’s, and if they are going to win a fourth straight team crown it will be imperative they fill all of these weight classes with solid wrestlers. As of now the only established wrestlers in this segment of the lineup are Jake McKiernan who is currently ranked #8 at 160lbs, and Austin Peltier at 215lbs. However, as previously stated, it is the ability to consistently reload and wrestle as a team that has made Richmond’s program so successful.
Ranked Wrestlers – 8
Key Returners: Logan Irey (#3 112, State Placer), Casey Robinson (#8 119, Regional Qualifier), Alex Whitener (#7 125, State Qualifier), Dakota Hoffman (145), Steven Sika (#4 160, State Placer), Joe Sika (#5 171, State Placer), Logan Morningstar (#3 285, State Placer)
Key Losses: Nate Manthei (119, State Qualifier), Josh Couturier (130, State Qualifier), Dillon McCarthy (145, State Placer), Cameron Lewis (160, State Qualifier), Logan Potter (189, State Placer)
Impact Newcomers: Reilley Brown (#4 103, Freshman), Zach Cooper (#1 125, 2X State Champion)
Outlook: While they fell short of their ultimate goal, Whitehall made an immense statement in 2011-2012, and it is one that still rings fresh with the season set to begin. This past season was one of the best ever for the Vikings, who reached the state semifinals before falling to current #1 Dundee in a hard fought dual. Additionally, six wrestlers achieved all-state status, and Head Coach Cliff Sandee was named the MWA Division 3 Coach of The Year. What’s daunting about this information is that despite how good last year was for Whitehall, the upcoming season has the potential to be a significantly better one. A few key wrestlers depart due to graduation, but they will benefit vastly from the addition of two-time state champion Zack Cooper, arguably the best wrestler in D3 at any weight. With Cooper now in the mix a total of eight Vikings are ranked to begin the year, and the lineup appears to stack up very well against #1 Dundee, #2 Richmond and #4 Birch Run. Nonetheless, Whitehall’s slot in Battle Creek is far from guaranteed, as a huge showdown with local rival #5 Shelby scheduled for team districts, followed by a likely matchup with #6 Allendale at regionals.
As was the case last year Whitehall should be extremely tough in the upper half of the lineup, but what sets apart this year’s squad is their significantly bolstered fleet of lowerweights. As mentioned previously, the team gains the services of top-ranked Zack Cooper, a pure stud at 125lbs that will be a threat to pin every time he hits the mat this winter. Additionally, talented freshman Reilley Brown also joins the Viking’s lineup, and will fill the 103lbs spot where he is ranked #4 to begin the season. At 112lbs Logan Irey, part of a monster senior class, will be another weapon for the Vikings. Slotted #3 in the preseason rankings, Irey is one of five returning all-staters spread throughout the lineup. Additional key lowerweights will be Casey Robinson at 119lbs and Alex Whitener at 125lbs, a pair of seniors who are both featured in the preseason rankings as well. Following graduation there are some vacated spots that must be filled in Whitehall’s upperweights, but the return of the three state-placers ensures this group will once again be very tough. Returning at the heavyweight spot is #3 Logan Morningstar, a senior who has been active this offseason following a 4th place finish at last year’s state tournament. Filling the 160lbs and 171lbs spot will be two more veterans, senior twins Steven and Joe Sika. Both were state placers a year ago, and both begin their final high school season ranked in the top-five of their weight class. An additional wrestler to keep an eye on will be Dakota Hoffman, a relatively unknown junior expected to compete at 145lbs. Although it is his first year breaking the varsity lineup, Hoffman should be a key contributor for the Vikings following a busy summer that included a strong outing at the USAW Cadet Freestlye Nationals in Fargo.
#4 Birch Run
Ranked Wrestlers – 5
Key Returners: Jerry Fenner (#5 119, State Placer), Adam Bishop (#5 125, State Placer), Kyle Kelsey (130, 2011 Regional Qualifier), Preston Hogan (135, Regional Qualifier), Damian Johnson (#4 140, 2011 State Placer), Lake Bennett (#2 145, 2X State Placer), Jared Elliot (152, Regional Qualifier), Mitch Franklin (#8 152, Regional Qualifier), George Lahar (189, Regional Qualifier), Kyle Spencer (285, Regional Qualifier)
Key Losses: Josh Hobson (119, Regional Qualifier), Caleb Slavik (152, 2X State Placer), Tyler Sova (160, Regional Qualifier), Mack Staley (189, Regional Qualifier), Hunter Emery (215, Regional Qualifier)
Outlook: Following one of the best
years in program history, all signs
indicate Birch Run to be poised for an
even better encore performance in
2012-2013. Last year was a great
one for the Panthers, who claimed
their first regional title in over a
decade, and reached the state
semifinals before bowing out to
eventual champion Richmond. Now
with a trip to Battle Creek under their
belt and the majority of last year’s
lineup returning, Coach Bennett’s
squad is an extremely legitimate
contender to emerge as Division 3
state champions this February. Ten
returning regional qualifiers ensure that balance will not be an issue, and with five wrestlers currently ranked firepower should not be a problem either. Yet, before narrowing in on their goal of a team title the Panthers must focus on getting by #7 Swan Valley and #10 Caro, a pair of hungry and talented teams in their region.
Across the board Birch Run features tremendous balance, but they are particularly dangerous between 119-152 where they have five ranked wrestlers, and three additional regional qualifiers. The flexibility in this range is excellent for the Panthers as well, so they should have plenty of options in regard to dual-matchups this season. Leading off this impressive group is 119lbr Jerry Fenner, who returns with a #5 ranking after an excellent freshman season that culminated in a 3rd place at the state tournament. Following Fenner is another all-stater, senior Adam Bishop, a two-time state placewinner ranked #5 at 125lbs to begin this season. Occupying the slots at 130lbs and 135lbs will be Kyle Kelsey and Preston Hogan; a pair of wrestlers who have both qualified for regionals in the past. Birch Run’s killer stretch continues at 140lbs with #4-ranked Damian Johnson, a senior who was reached all-state status in 2011, and will look to do so again in his final high school season. Up next is Lake Bennett, the highest ranked wrestler in the Panther’s lineup, and a favorite to vie for a state title in his senior season. Currently pegged as D3’s #2 145lbr, Bennett is a two-time all stater who has been a big part of the Panther’s team success in recent years. At 152lbs the Panthers have two very capable juniors, Mitch Franklin and Jarred Elliot, who will most likely alternate between the 152lbs and 160lbs spot. Both Franklin and Elliot were a single match away from qualifying for the state tournament last season, and Franklin begins the year ranked #8 while Elliot is right on the bubble of breaking the top ten. Rounding out the upperweights are two additional regional qualifiers; George Lahar and Kyle Spencer. Lahar projects as a rock solid 189lbr for the Panthers after losing in the blood round of regionals at 171lbs as just a freshman last season, while Spencer returns to fill the heavyweight spot after falling one point shy of reaching the state meet in his junior year.
Ranked Wrestlers – 5
Key Returners: Austin Felt (#4 112, State Runner-Up), Dylan Unger (125, 2011 State Qualifier), Nick Bantien (130, Regional Qualifier), David Guerra (#4 135, 2X State Qualifier), Forrest Courtright (#7 160, State Qualifier), Dillion Ankey (#3 215, State Placer), Kevin Brink (#7 285)
Key Losses: Will Foster (119, State Qualifier), Jordan White (135, State Qualifier), Trevor Dezwaan (140, State Qualifier), Houston Jones (145, Regional Qualifier), Mason Courtright (171, State Runner-Up)
Outlook: Following a brief but highly successful stint in Division 4 last winter, Shelby returns to Division 3 and will once again be a key piece of the puzzle that is the D3 state title race. The Tigers are coming off arguably their best season ever, highlighted by a stunning instant-classic semifinals win over New Lothrop that led to the school’s first ever runner-up finish since the inception of the dual meet formatted state championships. Although they fell short of their ultimate goal and lost to reigning D4 dynasty Hudson in the finals, the Tigers made a strong statement that will not soon be forgotten. Despite the departure of several key wrestlers this roster is still loaded with talent, and Shelby should find themselves right in the thick of the state title picture as they return to D3. However, their path to Battle Creek will not be an easy one as the Tigers share a district with nearby rival #3 Whitehall, and are also in the same region as #6 Allendale.
Once again Shelby’s talent is very nicely distributed, with no specific portion of their lineup appearing particularly weak or strong in comparison to the rest. The team’s highest ranked wrestler is Dillion Ankey, a freakishly talented senior who is ranked #3 at 215lbs following a breakout junior season. At 285lbs Kevin Brink returns for the Tigers, and could be poised for a huge year. Brink enters the season with a #7 ranking after winning over thirty matches and defeating multiple all-state opponents as a freshman heavyweight. Junior Forrest Courtright will be another key component of the Tiger’s upperweights, and returns with a #7 ranking after falling a match short of all-state honors in his sophomore season. Down low Shelby retains a lot of talent, most notably state runner-up Austin Felt. Projected to wrestle at 112lbs in his senior season, Felt is currently ranked #4 in what is arguably the toughest weight class in Division 3. The final ranked wrestler in Shelby’s lineup is David Guerra, a two-time state qualifier pegged as D3’s #4 135lbr. Additional returning starters expected to make big contributions in the lowerweights are Dylan Unger and Nick Bantien. Unger is a former state qualifier expected to compete at 125lbs, while Bantien is projected to return at 130lbs after qualifying for regionals last season.
Ranked Wrestlers – 4
Key Returners: Jackson Lamdin (#5 112, State Placer), Luke Jensen (#1 119, State Runner-Up), Jesse Groenveld (135, Regional Qualifier), Austin Zaldivar (145, Regional Qualifier), Connor Beebe (#2 189, State Placer), Taylor Gohn (#2 215, State Placer), Glenn Geurink (285, Regional Qualifier)
Key Losses: Connor Kroll (145, Regional Qualifier), Isaac Jensen (152, State Placer), Tyler Bachelor (160, State Qualifier)
Outlook: For quite some time consistency has been a staple of the Allendale program, which has produced six regional titles over the past nine seasons. Overall depth and balance is a key strength for the Falcons seemingly every year, and they never fail to reload. This year’s team should be a good one, with the vast majority of last year’s starters slated to return to the lineup after falling to Whitehall in a closely contested regional final last February. Nonetheless, the draw is less than favorable for Allendale, with #3 Whitehall and #5 Shelby both also vying for a title in what could be the state’s toughest region.
The balance on this year’s Tigers team is
exceptional, but their strongest asset will be
their fleet of returning big men. At 189lbs junior
Connor Beebe returns following a phenomenal
sophomore year that saw him place 3rd at the
state meet, and is slotted #2 in the preseason
rankings. Also ranked #2 for the Falcons is
Taylor Gohn, a senior who will once again man
the 215lbs spot. Gohn was a state placer for
Allendale last season, and along with Beebe he
gives the Falcons the best 189/215 combination
of any team in D3. Furthermore, the heavyweight
spot should be solid as well, with regional
qualifier Glenn Geurink returning for his junior
The little guys on this team are excellent as
well, most notably top-ranked senior Luke
Jensen at 119lbs. A state runner-up last season,
Jensen joins Beebe and Gohn as another
serious state title contender in the lineup.
Another who enters the season with high expectations is Jackson Lambdin, who will attempt to build on a tremendous freshman season. Ranked #5 at 112lbs in the preseason rankings, Lambdin gives Allendale a total of four ranked wrestlers, all of whom are slotted in the top five of their respective weight classes. Others who will be key contributors this season include Jesse Groenveld and Austin Zaldivar. Both came within a match of qualifying for the state tournament last year, and are right on the cusp of breaking into the rankings. Groenveld projects as a 135lbr for the Falcons, while Zaldivar is expected to wrestle at 145lbs.
#7 Swan Valley
Ranked Wrestlers – 7
Key Returners: Dylan Ewald (#8 125, 3X State Qualifier), Collin Dole (135, Regional Qualifier), Josh Flores (#7 145, 2011 State Qualifier), Matt Somers (#4 152, State Qualifier) Leon’Tay White (#6 160, 2X State Placer)
Key Losses: Zack Roethlisberger (125, State Qualifier), Jared Flores (135, 2009 State Placer), Mitch Mallott (152, State Placer)
Impact Newcomers: KJ Suitor (#5 103, Freshman), Anthony Schiavonne (#6 112, Transfer), Matt Santos (#3 119, Freshman)
Outlook: Plenty of optimism and excitement surrounds the Swan Valley program, which enters the season with what appears to be their best lineup since the likes of BJ Suitor, Troy Lamson, and Darius Wass graduated in 2010. The team returns the majority of last year’s squad that came within a few points of a regional title, and all losses incurred by graduation will be negated by the addition of two highly talented freshmen and an impactful transfer. However, despite their talent, the Vikings will have their work cut out for them if they are going to return to the team finals. Among those standing in their way are #4 Birch Run and #10 Caro, both of whom will also have their sights set on advancing through team regionals and stamping their ticket to Battle Creek.
While some questions linger in regard to Swan Valley’s big men, the Vikings will be as good as anybody in Division 3 from 103-160. Two immediate impact freshmen bolster a lowerweight corps that was already very good. Taking over the 103lbs spot will be KJ Suitor, who begins his high school with a #5 ranking following an impressive performance at the Grappler Fall Classic in October. Also boosting his stock at the Grappler Fall Classic was Matt Santos, another impressive freshman set to join Swan Valley’s lineup this season. Santos placed 5th at the GFC, including a win over D2’s top ranked Collin Welcher, and is ranked #3 at 119lbs to begin the season. Another newcomer with high expectation is Anthony Schiavone, a transfer who will man the 112lbs spot for Swan Valley. Schiavone is coming off of an impressive offseason that included a top six finish at the GFC, and is #6 in the D3 preseason rankings. Veteran Dylan Ewald returns for the Vikings, and will look to finally achieve all-state status as he competes at 125lbs in his senior season. Ranked #7 in Division 3 to begin the year, Ewald has fallen just short of placing at the state meet, losing in the blood round each of the past three seasons. Another veteran who returns to the mix is Josh Flores, a senior expected to wrestle at 145lbs in his final season. Two years ago Flores came within a match of placing at the state tournament, and is ranked #7 in D3 as he returns to the lineup. Swan Valley’s impressive array of middleweights continues at 152lbs, where Matt Somers returns for his senior year. A multiple-time state qualifier, the #4 ranked Somers will be one of several Vikings with a legitimate shot at a state title. Capping off this high-powered stretch of the lineup is #6 Leon’Tay White at 160lbs, a two-time state placer projected to move up from 135lbs for his senior season. However impressive the lower two-thirds of the Viking’s lineup is, they will need to get production from their big guys if they are going to return to Battle Creek. The wrestlers expected to fill these weight classes are not particularly established, but as long as they can hold their own and be competitive the talent is there for Swan Valley to compete for a state title.
Ranked Wrestlers – 5
Key Returners: Holden Dunklee (#2 103, State Qualifier), Kyle McQueer (119, 2X Regional Qualifier), Brandon Watson (125, Regional Qualifier), Kody Hukill (#6 130, 2X State Placer), Devin Barker (#6 135, 2X Regional Qualifier), Johnny Johnson (#6 145, State Placer), Corey Livingston (#5 189, State Qualifier)
Key Losses: Matt Chavez (112, State Qualifier), Alberto Lopez (130, State Champion), Eric Dennis (140, State Placer), Andrew Laylon (189, Regional Qualifier)
Outlook: Over the past few years Otsego has shined as one of the state’s rising programs, and after a phenomenal 2011-2012 season the Bulldogs have cemented their position among D3’s best teams. The team stormed through their district and region in dominant fashion, and for the second straight year was very competitive at the team state championships. Despite the void left by the departure of state champion Alberto Lopez and several other valuable seniors, winning a third consecutive regional title appears well within the Otsego’s reach. The Bulldog’s return a great deal of talent in the lower weights, and their road to Battle Creek does appear particularly treacherous.
As was the case last season, the lighter half of the lineup will be a strength for Otsego. Their highest ranked wrestler, #2 Holden Dunklee, returns at 103lbs where he is a serious contender to win a state title in his junior season. Kody Hukill, who is the Bulldog’s most accomplished wrestler, projects at 130lbs for his senior season. Ranked #6 in D3 to begin the year, Hukill is a multiple-time state place winner who has been a mainstay in the Bulldog’s lineup his entire career. Also ranked #6 is Devin Barker, another senior, who narrowly missed qualifying for the state meet last year, and is expected to return at 135lbs. Additionally, the return of regional qualifiers Kyle McQueer at 119lbs and Brandon Watson at 125lbs should make this group a very deep one. The upperweights will not be quite as deep for Otsego, but they do return a pair of highly ranked wrestlers that should account for a lot of bonus points. Following an all-state performance at 125lbs last season, senior Johnny Johnson is projected to move all the way up to 145lbs in his senior season where he is currently ranked #6 in Division 3. Also ranked for Bulldogs is senior Corey Livingston, a senior expected to compete at 189lbs that is currently slotted #5 at that weight. A state qualifier at 171lbs this past season, Livingston could be a dark horse contender for a state title. He returns after a season in which he was ranked #1 for over a month, but failed to achieve all-state status due to an injury suffered at the state tournament.
#9 Remus Chippewa Hills
Ranked Wrestlers – 4
Key Returners: Rich Ostrander (#4 103), Zach King (#7 112, State Placer), Latear Dukes (#8 145, State Qualifier), Jason Peacock (#5 152, State Qualifier), Cole Thielen (215, Regional Qualifier)
Key Losses: Zach Cooper (112, 2X State Champion), Nathan Weckesser (119, 2011 State Placer), James Leiter (119, 2X State Qualifier), John Wernette (135, 2X State Qualifier), Damien Curtice (189, State Placer), Quentin Moody (215, Regional Qualifier)
Impact Newcomers: Johnny Lynch (125, Ohio D1 District Qualifier)
Outlook: Across the state there have been few teams able to match the consistency of the Remus Chippewa Hills over the past several years. Over the past seven years the Warriors have won five regional titles, and as the season approaches Coach Ethridge’s squad appears to once again be poised for a late-February trip to Battle Creek. Between graduation and transfers the losses from last year’s are noteworthy, but a very solid foundation is still in place that makes the Warriors the favorite to win their region. The team will have several spots to fill across the lineup, but given their track record of consistent success that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
This year’s squad will not have as much firepower as the past few years, but has a strong groundwork of quality wrestlers that will make them tough from top to bottom. Four Warriors are ranked to begin the year, with highest being junior Rich Ostrander at 103lbs. Currently ranked #4 in Division 3, this year will mark Ostrander’s first as a full-time starter after waiting behind state-champion Zack Cooper and state-placer Zach King the past two seasons. Following Ostrander in the lineup is Zach King, Chippewa Hill’s only returning state placer. The junior begins the year with a #7 ranking at 112lbs, and is coming off a breakout season that ended with a 6th place finish at the state meet. The Warriors will benefit from the addition of a Johnny Lynch at 125lbs, a new team member who has relocated to Michigan after putting together a strong season in Ohio last winter. The upper half of the lineup is highlighted by a pair of seniors; Latear Dukes at 145lbs and Jason Peacock at 152lbs. Entering the season with a #5 ranking, Peacock is a dangerous wrestler that could be a serious sleeper to win a state title in his final year. Dukes returns with a #8 ranking after a strong junior season that culminated in a berth to the state tournament. The top big man for the Warriors will be senior Cole Thielen, who is expected to fill the 215lbs spot. After coming within an overtime match of qualifying for the state tournament last year Thielen should be among D3’s top 215lbrs in his senior season.
Ranked Wrestlers – 4
Key Returners: Shane Hermann (#4 119, State Runner-Up), Marshall Conelly (#8 130, Regional Qualifier), Daniel Rocheleau (135, Regional Qualifier), Skylar Ley (152), Trevor Jastor (#1 160, 2011 State Runner-Up), Kendall Betteridge (#6 215, State Placer)
Key Losses: Cody Hall (112, State Placer), Jeremy Decker (171, State Qualifier)
Outlook: This past season was a strong one for the Tigers, who emerged from D3’s toughest region to reach the state quarterfinals where they bowed out against Dundee in a dual that was much closer than the final score indicated. While several key members of last year’s squad depart due to graduation, there is still more than enough talent remaining for Caro make a run at another regional title. However, as was the case last year, it will not be an easy path for the Tigers. Among the teams standing between Caro and the team state finals in Battle Creek are #4 Birch Run and #7 Swan Valley.
The Tiger’s have a nice dispersion of talent, with four ranked wrestlers spread evenly across the lineup. At 160lbs Trevor Jastor is Caro’s highest ranked returner, currently holding the #1 spot in D3. A state runner-up in the 2011 season, Jastor will be a state-title favorite in his senior year. Another state-runner up is Shane Hermann, a senior who reached the finals at 103lbs last year. This season Hermann is projected to move up to 119lbs where he is currently ranked #4 in a weight class that looks to be among D3’s toughest. The third and final returning all-stater for the Tigers is Kendall Betteridge who returns with a #6 ranking at 215lbs following a very impressive sophomore campaign. Additionally, talented sophomore Marshall Connelly is also ranked for the Tigers, currently slotted #8 at 130lbs after falling just short of qualifying for the state meet as a freshman. Others who will also be looked upon as key members of this lineup include regional qualifier Daniel Rocheleau at 135lbs, and Skylar Ley at 152lbs.
Ranked Wrestlers – 1
Key Returners: Jake Kulaja (112, Regional Qualifier), Jared Syverson (130, Regional Qualifier), Jeremy Kadish (140, Regional Qualifier), Josh Kadish (#10 145, State Qualifier), Brandon Gagnon (152, Regional Qualifier), Jacob Wydra (160, Regional Qualifier), Chris Walters (171, Regional Qualifier), Jake Cronick (189, Regional Qualifier), Jack Cronick (215, Regional Qualifier), Tom Bailey (285, Regional Qualifier)
Outlook: At first glance Gladstone may not appear too imposing, but upon further inspection this is a very solid team with a great chance to earn a regional title. Tenth-ranked senior Josh Kadish is the team’s only returning state qualifier, but an additional nine returning regional qualifiers make Gladstone the clear-cut favorite to emerge from their region and compete at the team finals in Battle Creek.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Ranked Wrestlers – 4
Key Returners: Dan Sayfie (125, Regional Qualifier), Joe English (#2 140, State Placer), Noah Sullivan (145, Regional Qualifier), Dan Drummond (215)
Key Losses: None
Impact Newcomers: Kole Krauss (#9 103, Freshman), Devin Schroder (#1 112, Freshman), Dominic Forbes (119, Freshman), Nate Limmex (#1 130, State Placer), Ryan Tennihill (152, Transfer), Grant Tennihill (189, Transfer)
Outlook: The future appears incredibly bright at Grand Rapids CC thanks to an influx of young talent and a very solid group of returners. Among the new faces set to hit the mats for the Cougars this winter is Devin Schroder, a nationally heralded freshman ranked #1 at 112lbs to begin the season. Also ranked atop his weight class is sophomore Nate Limmex, a 130lbs transfer from Lowell who will be heavily favored to win an individual state title. Returning state placer Joe English is ranked #2 at 140lbs giving the team another weapon in their lineup, and they will also benefit from the addition of talented freshman Kole Krauss at 103lbs. Although their regional draw is less than favorable, the talent level at Grand Rapids CC is excellent, and this appears to be a program with big things in its future.
Ranked Wrestlers – 1
Key Returners: Brendan Abrigo (103), Brock Vlcek (112, State Qualifier), Robert Stamp (119), Charlie Steffens (125, Regional Qualifier), Eric Coval (#7 140, State Qualifier), James Schriber (152, Regional Qualifier), Michael Golding (160, Regional Qualifier), Justin Reyst (171, Regional Qualifier), Henry Arbogast (215, Regional Qualifier), Brian Robert (285, Regional Qualifier)
Key Losses: Case Kittel (130, State Qualifier), Tom Conway (130, State Qualifier), Cameron LaDoucer (140, Regional Qualifier), Cody Render (171, State Qualifier), Austin Hamilton (State Placer)
Outlook: They may not have the heavy hitters to match up with up D3 powers such as Dundee or Richmond, but the Dutch have exceptional balance that should make them a very competitive dual meet team all year long. Although 140lbr Eric Coval is the only Manchester wrestler currently in the rankings, the return of eight starters who were at least regional qualifiers in 2011-2012 ensures that it will be another strong season for the program as they transition to Division 3.
Midland Bullock Creek
Ranked Wrestlers – 2
Key Returners: Nick Torres (125, Regional Qualifier), Brody Noykos (130, Regional Qualifier), Chris March (#5 130, State Qualifier), Johnny Finney (#3 145, 2X State Placer), Ben McCann (171, Regional Qualifier)
Key Losses: James Torres (112, Regional Qualifier), Scott Flowers (145, State Champion), Brandon McCann (152, 2X State Qualifier), Travis Shoffner (285, Regional Qualifier)
Outlook: It has been a strong stretch for the Bullock Creek program, which has produced regional championship caliber teams in several consecutive seasons. In 2012-2013 the Lancers should once again be among D3’s top teams. They will be lead by #3-ranked Johnny Finney at 145lbs as well as #5 ranked Chris March at 140lbs, and three additional regional qualifiers from last year will also be key contributors.
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