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Grappler Gold

Ford Awards

By MI Grappler, 03/06/18, 1:30PM EST



All-Tournament OW: Brandon Whitman (Dundee) and Jarrett Trombley (Lake Fenton)
Division 1: Alex Facundo (Davison)
Division 2: James Whitaker (St. Johns)
Division 3: Brandon Whitman and Jarrett Trombley
Division 4: Jordan Hamdan (Hudson)

The D3 four-timers headline our list as the Most Outstanding Wrestlers of the tournament.  Outside of the fact that they accomplished feats that very few had ever done, if you look at their tournament performances from this year it is astounding.  Trombley scored 94 points in four matches, averaging over 23 points per match.  Whitman went a different route.  Heading into his finals match, he had spent 27 seconds on the mat total.  He received a forfeit first round, pinned in :20 in the quarters, and :07 in the semis.  Truly outstanding efforts from both.

Facundo's already-well documented win in the finals propelled him to the slot for Division 1.  That match was one of the more anticipated finals in recent memory and basically whoever came out on top was going to be D1's OW.  The Davison freshman also scored two falls and a tech en route to capping off a perfect 31-0 rookie campaign.

Division 2's Outstanding Wrestler, James Whitaker, had the incredible task of running the gauntlet of the #4, #3, and #2 ranked wrestlers in succession to win his first state title.  All three matches were decisions - 1-0, 7-4, and 6-4 - but the sheer grit and determination to get through those bouts put him at the top of our list here.

Now a three-time State Champ, Jordan Hamdan won another championship in dominant fashion.  After a fall and a tech, he had to get through a past state runner-up and a 2x State Champ to win a title this year.  Not only was able to come out on top, but he did so in dominant fashion.  He won the pair of matches by a combined score of 22-1 and finished the year 52-0 for Hudson.

Most Dominant Performance

Division 1: Ben Cushman (Flushing) 
Division 2: Drake Pauwels (New Boston Huron)
Division 3: Owen Guilford (Portland)
Division 4: Reese Fry (Manchester)

Flushing senior Ben Cushman was virtually untouched all season and this weekend was no different as he plowed through the field for his second state title.  The future Chippewa won two matches by fall, won 16-4 in the quarters, and closed out the tourney with a 16-5 major decision in the finals.

Pauwels, like the aforementioned Whitaker, had to wrestle three of the top-four wrestlers to win his first state championship.  The Huron senior did that in spades as he majored and pinned in the quarters in semis.  He ended the tournament by winning a 10-0 major decision over the previously top-ranked wrestler in his weight.

Portland junior Owen Guilford was one of two wrestlers to score bonus in every match in Division 3.  He did that over three wrestlers who finished in the top-six.  Outside of the match he won by fall, the other three matches were won by a combined score of 40-6.  He'll be back to defend his title next year.

Reese Fry of Manchester capped of his career in style as the only wrestler in any division to pin through the tournament.  The future Ivy Leaguer never entered the third period during the tournament, including a first period fall in the finals.  The 2x State Champ ended the season with a 56-1 record.

Most Impressive Team Performance

Division 1: Detroit CC (13 placers, 7 finalists, 5 champs)
Division 2: Lowell (11 placers, 4 finalists, 1 champ)
Division 3: Dundee (12 placers, 6 finalists, 2 champs)
Division 4: Hudson (7 placers, 2 finalists, 2 champs)

Anytime you have half of your wrestlers advance to the state finals you're pretty much a lock to win this category.  That's what DCC was able to do as seven made the championship with five winning titles for the third straight year.   The Shamrocks also had 13 wrestlers earn all-state status, a record for any division in state history.  

Lowell tied the Division 2 record for most state placers with 11 (St. Johns 2011 and 2012).  They were lead by one State Champ, Austin Boone, and three other finalists.  Incredibly seven of their eleven all-state wrestlers were either freshmen or sophomores, so they should continue to be the dominant force in D2 for years to come.

It's amazing that Dundee broke the record for most state placers in a season as well, but had the second most in 2018.  Their twelve all-state wrestlers was good enough for a Division 3 record, however.  Six finalists marked the third time the Vikings had accomplished such a feat, matching the 2007 and 2011 teams.  Two wrestlers won titles - 4x Champ Whitman and a freshman with his eyes set on four, Stoney Buell.

Fitting that all four divisions' most impressive team won the Team State title as well.  Hudson had the strongest performance in Division 4 with four all-staters and a pair of champions.  The Tigers went 2-for-2 in the championship round including an avenged loss.  Five of their seven placers will be back in 2019.

Breakout Rookie Performance

Division 1: Alex Facundo (Davison)
Division 2: Joe Haynes (WW Tower)
Division 3: Stoney Buell (Dundee)
Division 4: Brayden Randolph (Clinton)

When you're the OW and also a freshman, you're pretty much a lock to win the Breakout Rookie.  Alex Facundo was undoubtedly the most impressive freshman in Division 1 and his championship affirms why he's the number one freshman in Michigan and ranked as the #2 prospect in the country in the Class of 2021.

Warren Woods Tower 103 pounder Joe Haynes was the highest freshman placer in Division 2, finishing in 3rd place.  He was actually the only freshman to place in the top-five.  After a wild semifinals match, he rebounded to win his next two matches and showed great poise for a young wrestler.

Stoney Buell of Dundee capped off a brilliant rookie campaign with an impressive showing, winning the 135 pound bracket.  One of two freshmen champs in D3 (Dametrius Castillo the other), Buell pinned his way to the finals before winning 6-1 in the finals over a past state runner-up.

There were two freshman state finalists in D4 at 103 and 112, but our Breakout Rookie goes to Clinton's Brayden Randolph who finished 3rd at 160 pounds.  That weight class is typically reserved for upperclassmen, as evidenced by six of the eight placers in his weight being Seniors.  Randolph's only loss came to the eventual champ in the semis and ended the year 50-5.

Darkhorse Award

Division 1: Blake Wingate (Temperance Bedford)
Division 2: Arthur Calloway (Carleton Airport)
Division 3: Dametrius Castillo (Alma)
Division 4: Ryan Lakatos (Sand Creek)

Bedford 215 pounder Blake Wingate had a major breakout tournament for the Mules, placing 2nd in the state.  He entered the tournament ranked tenth and was the lowest ranked wrestler to make the state finals.  He did that by showing true guts and determination, winning two overtime matches and a 4-2 decision in the semis.  

Arthur Calloway of Airport was on a mission at 140, placing fifth and picking up some big wins along the way.  He was third in the region and listed as #15 in the weight heading in.  Not only did he blow that away, but he won 11-4 over the wrestler who won his regional and also knocked off the previously fourth-ranked wrestler in the 5th place bout.

Alma freshman Dametrius Castillo turned in an incredible run at 119 in Division 3.  The sixth-ranked wrestler entering the tournament, he marched to a title and turned out to be the lowest ranked wrestler to win a championship.  Along the way the #1 and #2 ranked wrestlers in order to become Alma's first State Champ since 1993.

34-20 was the record entering the tournament for Ryan Lakatos of Sand Creek, so the odds of him ending up on the podium were against him.  He also was fourth in his region and listed as #16 in the weight.  Lakatos had tunnel vision and nearly picked up an upset first round, before winning 5-2 and 9-8 in the wrestlebacks to lock up an 8th-place finish and earn a spot on the podium with his huge performance.

March 18, 2018 - Brighton High School

March 18, 2018 - Brighton High School