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Team State Preview: Saturday Round #3 - The Finals!

By Steve Widzinski, 02/21/14, 12:15AM EST


DCC and Davison hoping to write next chapter in epic rivalry...

D1 - #1 Davison vs. #3 Detroit Catholic Central

wt class Davison score DCC
103 Alvarez 0-6 Rehfeldt
112 #3 Johnson 3-6 HM O'Brien
119 Madrigal 3-10 #1 Zdebski
125 #1 Olson 9-10 Lyon
130 #5 Humphrey 12-10 #7 Toth
135 #3 Miller 15-10 #9 Johnson
140 #1 Oliver 18-10 #3 My. Amine
145 #4 Russ 18-13 #2 Ma. Amine
152 #10 McRill 18-17 #1 Bennett
160 #3 (152) Garty 21-17 Morland
171 #2 Cooks 21-20 #1 Garcia
189 Thomas 21-23 #3 Giese
215 HM Ellis 21-26 #3 Russell
285 Powers 24-26 Jenkins

Dual Synopsis

This is it, folks. High School wrestling doesn’t get much better than this. By now everyone has heard the story of Evan Toth and his infamous state title clinching headlock. There aren’t enough to superlatives in the world to describe the atmosphere in Kellogg Arena during DCC’s emotional roller coaster of a victory over Davison in last year’s state final.

As if that wasn’t enough to set the stage, Davison added another chapter to this increasingly compelling narrative the first week of the season. After losing rather badly in two previous attempts, the Cardinals marched into DCC’s home gym during the school day for their annual assembly dual, and upended the 2X defending champs in front of 1000+ roaring Shamrock students.

Now, two of the best of senior classes to ever come through the state of Michigan will write the final chapter in what has been a truly remarkable rivalry. Surely both teams will continue to compete for state titles in years to come, but it will feel undeniably different in the absence of so many iconic faces. In the 3 years leading up to this one, these senior classes have combined to total 8 individual titles, 4 runner-up finishes, 10 additional all-state medals, and cumulative total of 31 trips to the Palace.

As for the dual meet itself, there are great matchups throughout, and all indicate it will live up to the hype.

Weight-by-Weight Analysis

103 – This weight has been a struggle for both teams all year. Aaron Rehfeldt, who wrestled for Summit Academy last season, was ineligible until late in the season, but now seems to be the guy for DCC. He had a pretty solid showing at the annual Observerland tourney, and Davison has given up a lot of pins here.

112 – In the December dual #2 Johnson pinned DCC’s Tommy Hermann, but HM Parker O’Brien is now down to 112 and should provide a tougher test. I still think Johnson wins soundly, but O’Brien’s length should be enough to slow him down and keep it to a decision.

119 – Last time around #1 Trevor Zdebski was out with injury, and had he been available it could have made the difference for DCC. He’s a clear favorite, but the key how he does so. A 2X SQ, Jacob Madrigal is a very solid opponent, and I see this as a borderline major decision that will probably come down to one wrestler scoring/preventing a takedown or turn in the final minute.

125 – There is a possibility DCC brings #7 Evan Toth down from 130, but seems unlikely considering that #1 Lincoln Olson recorded a tech-fall when the two met in December. If DCC decides to go with Joe Lyon Davison could consider bumping Olson to 130, but that would likely force them to remove a highly ranked senior from the lineup.

130 – This is a match that #5 Derek Humphrey has been awaiting for quite some time, as it was he who Toth pinned to win last year’s final. They have not met since, but Humphrey has had a marginally better season.

135 – As a first year starter #9 Greg Johnson has been superb for the Shamrock’s, but taking on #3 Matt Miller will be a tall order. A 3X state placer, Miller has a dangerous upper body game and isn’t afraid to go big. No doubt he will be looking for a big move to end the match from the minute the first whistle blows.

140 – Two of the state’s best, this one is huge. #1 Justin Oliver has had #3 Myles Amine’s number for quite some time. They have met 4 times over the past calendar year with Oliver narrowly winning each bout, 2 of which were decided in OT.

145 – Another huge matchup. #1 Malik Amine and #4 Dom Russ are both among the state’s elite seniors. In last year’s dual Russ stepped up in a big way to pin 3X state champ Ken Bade. He is capable of picking up another big win for the Cardinals this time around, but this was a match Amine controlled when they met earlier in the season. However, at the point in the dual DCC could only win if they got a pin, so Russ was probably a bit more conservative than normal.

152/160 – Davison can flip between two studs here in #3 Thomas Garty and #10 Brenden McRill. I’m expecting DCC will have the same option, considering that their usual 160lbr Tyler Morland has been down at 152 this season. Assuming that is the case, he will join #1 Nick Bennett, and the matchups will be determined by the flip. Davison will likely want McRill/Bennett and Garty/Morland, while DCC will hope for the opposite. In their December dual Garty narrowly edged Morland who did not appear to be in wrestling shape yet, and Bennett handily majored McRill.

171 – For most dual meets #2 Jordan Cooks has been at 189lbs for Davison this season, and this is one where I honestly have no idea what they will do. Pitting Cooks against #1 Drew Garcia is probably the slightly more risky option, but also offers a greater. Both are 2X state champions, and fans have been anticipating for quite some time. Their only previous meeting came when both were sophomores, but Cooks was injured early in the match and forced to default.

189 – #3 Nick Giese will be looking for a major here, but Tanner Thomas is a very solid option for Davison. He was a non-entrant for individuals, but has had an impressive season that includes a win over Holt’s Gage Sivyer, currently ranked #10 at this weight.

215 – DCC bumped #3 Jimmy Russell to heavyweight last time around, but with 189lbr and state champion Logan Marcicki seemingly done for the season, that option is less advantageous. HM Jake Ellis is very solid for Davison, but Russell with Russell’s neutral game I think he has chance for a major if he can get his offense clicking early.

285 – Dakota Powers has really stepped up for Davison this year, and fell just a match short of the state meet. He will be favored here with a chance to pin, but Nick Jenkins, a recent addition to the DCC lineup, has kept it close with some tough opponents, and Powers is a kid who wins with solid positioning rather than explosiveness.

D2 - #1 Lowell vs. #2 St. Johns

wt class Lowell score St. Johns
103 HM Russell 0-3 #8 Sanchez
112 #1 L. Hall 3-3 #2 Parker
119 #3 Z. Dean 6-3 #7 McFarland
125 #5 Krajewski 9-3 Droste
130 #3 Jack 13-3 HM Fedewa
135 #1 J. Hall 19-3 Guajardo
140 Kruse 19-9 #1 Hall
145 Boulton 19-15 #3 Bozzo
152 Garcia 19-21 #1 Massa
160 #1 K. Dean 22-21 #7 Wixson
171 #2 M. Dean 28-21 Thelen
189 #2 Stehley 28-24 #1 Arthur
215 #1 Colegrove 31-24 #3 Wildmo
285 Wilcox 31-27 Sturgis

Dual Synopsis

I’ll be the first to admit it: I was a St. Johns doubter early in the season. I didn’t believe that Red Wings were deep enough to make up for the loss of 5 Big 10 signees and 2 additional all-staters in last year’s senior class, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Plenty of new faces have stepped up to fill the void, and while not quite as star studded as year’s past this is an excellent team from top to bottom that is more than capable of claiming a 5th consecutive title.

For Lowell, this is about redemption. Each of the past 3 seasons the Red Arrows have marched into Kellogg Arena intent on winning a state championship, and on each occasion they have lost by over 20 points. There is no doubting that this has been an intense rivalry for quite some time now, and when Angus Arthur left Lowell to attend St. Johns the summer before last it certainly didn’t make these programs any friendlier.

Weight-byWeight Analysis

103 – Both squads have gotten solid production from freshmen here, each of who qualified for the state meet. #8 Emilio Sanchez has really impressed me with his toughness and resolve this season, and I think he is a good bet to win a decision over HM Sam Russell.

112 – There are plenty of huge matchups, but I don’t think any is bigger than this. #1 Lucas Hall and #2 Ian Parker have had some awesome battles over their short HS careers that date back to the 2012 GFC. Currently they are tied at 2 apiece, but in their most recent meeting Hall pinned Parker to win the 2013 GFC. Both have been terrific season and it’s hard to give the edge to one over the other, but gun to my head I am going with Hall and his crazy athleticism.

119 - #3 Zeth Dean is among the state’s elite sophomores and good bet to win for Lowell here, but they will be hoping for a major. However, that will be no easy task against #7 Lucas McFarland, one of 3 very impressive freshmen in the Red Wing’s lowerweights. I think Dean controls the match, but McFarland will be strong enough to slow him down keep the score tight.

125 – Even though he fell short at individual districts, Derek Droste is significantly improved from a year ago and has made some key contributions for the Red Wings. He will be a significant underdog against #5 Derek Krajewski, but I think he keeps it to a decision. 

130 – This is another bout where Lowell will be on the hunt for bonus, and I think they will get it from #3 Bailey Jack. He has a solid opponent in HM Bret Fedewa, but Jack’s strength is his takedown game, and as long as he avoids getting tied up I think he picks up the major.

135 – This has been one of two relative holes for St. Johns this season, and Lowell will be expecting nothing less than a pin from #1 Jordan Hall.

140/145 – St. Johns has the option of flipping #1 Zac Hall and #3 Mark Bozzo between these weights, but in the end it probably won’t make too much of a difference. If Lowell can get Dan Kruse on Bozzo they may be able to save a bonus point or two, but the bottom line is that both will dominate.

152 – I’m sure St. Johns would like to get #1 Logan Massa up to 160 against #1 Kanon Dean, but I’m not sure if they will be able too. He’s definitely no Massa, but Lowell senior Jacob Garcia is a solid 152, and unless St. Johns has a solid backup I don’t know about from 140-152 I think they could end up being forced to keep him here.

160 – This is a match where #1 Kanon Dean is favored over #7 Drew Wixson, but not by as much as one might expect considering their rankings. Wixson’s results have been all over the place this season, but at this best he is as good any 160lbr in D2.

171 – The second relative hole in St. John’s lineup, #2 Max Dean should get 6 for Lowell here, but they may consider bumping up their big guys depending how confident they are in their backup 171.

189 – I still think 112 is the most important match, but one could definitely it is this: a battle between former teammates who currently sit atop the rankings. As good as #2 Garret Stehley is, I question whether he has the motor to match Arthur’s pace for 6 minutes, and I think that will be the difference.

215 – #1 Josh Colegrove is one of the country’s best big men, but #3 Ty Wildmo will make this a tough match for him. Colegrove has a pretty considerable size/strength advantage, but as long as Wildmo can avoid a costly mistake I think he keeps this to a decision.

285 – Nic Sturgis had a really solid year for the Red Wings, and had a good shot at all-state honors prior to scratching at individual regionals. Assuming he is back at full strength I like him to win this, but with his status now in jeopardy this could end being a swing match between HM Jake Gnegy and Logan Wilcox.

D3 - #1 Dundee vs. #3 Richmond

wt class Dundee score Richmond
103 #10 Mandell 0-3 #9 Behem
112 #3 Reinhart 0-6 #1 Kilburn
119 D. Scholl 3-6 Keller
125 #6 Blevins 7-6 Barton
130 #1 O'Connor 13-6 Knuckles
135 #4 Sterling 13-9 #5 VanAtter
140 #10 B. Scholl 13-13 #4 Burg
145 #3 (140) Rojem 17-13 #4 VanScoter
152 #3 (145) Marogen 20-13 HM (160) Pawlak
160 #6 Mandell 20-19 #1 (152) Skatzka
171 #1 Thompson 23-19 Peltier
189 #1 Warren 26-19 #3 McKiernan
215 Hesierman 26-25 #8 (285) Boyd
285 Ege 26-28 Hinojosa

Dual Synopsis

For those not completely familiar with the history of these storied programs, here are a few eye-popping stats that should put things in perspective:

  • Over the past decade Richmond and Dundee have combined to win 7 of 10 possible state titles
  • During the same period they have combined for 13 of 20 possible finals appearances
  • Starting from the year 2000, there have only been 2 seasons where neither team was either a champion or a runner-up 

Needles to say, “tradition” doesn’t even begin to describe the legacy these programs have forged. In recent years the upper hand had belonged to Richmond, who was came into last season having won 3 consecutive titles. However, after 5 runner-up finishes and no titles in the 6 years prior, Dundee finally flipped the script last season and knocked off the Blue Devils.

Both have a tough road to the finals, but should they meet this has the makings of yet another unbelievable chapter in between these historical rivals.

Match-By-Match Analysis

103 – The first of several swing matches, #9 Connor Behem narrowly edged #10 Drew Mandell in January, and the Blue Devils will likely need him to do so again.

112 - #3 Kenny Reinhart has taken his wrestling to an entirely different level this season, but he will still be the underdog against #1 Aarob Kilburn. During the first two years of his career Kilburn has made a habit of pinning top-notch opponents, and that’s exactly what he did when these two met at Hudson Super 16 in January. I think Kilburn takes care of business, but Reinhart prevents any bonus this time around.

119 – Dundee has the option of bringing #6 Zack Blevins down to 119, but I think they roll with freshman Drew Scholl here against Richmond’s Cody Keller. Neither of these guys is particularly well known, but I’ll go with Scholl since Keller is naturally a 112lbr.

125 – Graham Barton is a 2013 SQ and very solid starter for Richmond, but his main objective here should be staying off his back. It’s not that I necessarily expect Blevins to dominate, but he is extremely dangerous and has been putting guys on their back from all sorts of positions this season. That being said, if recent history has taught me anything, it’s that Richmond is as good of a team as you will find when it comes to winning the bonus point battle.

130 – This is another weight where Dundee will be looking for a stick, and this time I think they get it. #1 Brendan O’Connor has been a pinning machine all year, and I think his top game will be a little too much for projected opponent Xavier Knuckles. 

135 – Another critical swing match, this will pit now 3X SQ and #5-ranked Austin VanAtter against super frosh Sean Sterling, currently ranked #4. It feels like a toss up, so I’ll give the nod to the veteran.

140 – Dundee has all sorts of options in the middle of the lineup, and may end up going with #2 Doug Rojem here, but I think they save him for 145lbs. If they do indeed go that route #4 Nick Burg should be a good bet against #10 Brad Scholl with a decent chance at bonus.

145 – #4 Jake VanScoter really seems to be coming into his own during the final year of his high school year, but will be a bit outmatched Rojem, a defending state champ. Rojem has a nasty top game and will be working for his fall, but I think VanScoter can stay off his back and keep it to a decision. 

152 – Typically HM Austin Pawlak has been at 160lbs for Richmond this season, but I think they bring him to wrestle #3 Sean Marogen. There will be a definite size advantage for Pawlak, but after watching Marogen win an OT barn-burner to clinch Dundee’s win over Davison in January there’s no way I picking against him here. 

160 – Mandell has proven himself to be dangerous, and showed that he is capable of wrestling for a state title when he knocked off then #2-ranked Jared Elliott at regionals. However, Skatzka is on a different level and a proven pinner. 

171 - #1 Tye Thompson heads into the state tournament as pretty clear favorite at this weight. He shouldn’t have a ton of trouble picking up a win for Dundee here, but Peltier is a very solid senior who was a 2013 SQ, and I think he can slow him down to force a decision. 

189 – There’s a decent chance that either #1 Teddy Warren or #3 Jake Mckiernan end up at 215, but should they meet it will be the most important match of the dual. Warren won their meeting last season and is the defending champ, but due to an injury suffered at the GFC has only been competing for the last month or so. I’ll still give the edge to Warren, but McKiernan had a phenomenal performance at team state last year and I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see him win.

215 – I’m pretty sure that #8 Adam Boyd is capable of making 215 for Richmond, and if that’s the case I think he comes down. Either way he is the favorite, but his chances of a fall are probably better at 215 against Heiserman.

285 – I’m not super familiar with either Russell Ege or Anthony Hinojosa, but the results show both have been pretty competent upperweights this season. It’s a definite swing match, but from the limited info I have on both I am leaning towards a narrow Hinojosa decision.

#1 Hudson vs. #2 New Lothrop

wt class Hudson score New Lothrop
103 HM Lopinski 0-6 #3 Krupp
112 #3 Roberts 6-6 A. Birchmeier
119 #2 (112) Hamdan 9-6 #3 Hersch
125 #4 (119) Dusseau 12-6 #4 D. Birchmeier
130 #7 Lopinski 12-9 #4 Bennett
135 HM Randall 12-12 #10 Copes
140 #1 Weaver 18-12 #3 Garza
145 #1 Waters 24-12 E. Birchmeier
152 #4 Johnson 27-12 #2 (145) Bauman
160 HM Sumber 27-16 #1 Wendling
171 HM Grames 27-22 #1 Krupp
189 HM Brockway 27-26 #3 Symons
215 #8 (189) Ely 27-29 #8 Clark
285 #4 (215) Morgan 30-29 #8 Robertson

Dual Synopsis

On paper this a dual New Lothrop should win. I’ll be totally honest; it took me quite a bit of finagling to calculate a scenario where Hudson wins this dual. Logic tells me that New Lothrop should be this year’s D4 state champs, but memories remind me that Hudson has a way of defying logic in Battle Creek.

It’s nothing against New Lothrop, far from it in fact. I am huge fan of what Coach Jeff Campbell has done with the program in recent years, but I just don’t have it in me to pick against Hudson. Seriously, if the entire city of New Lothrop were to flood tonight and the MHSAA decided to allow the Penn State University to replace them I would probably be up all night trying to figure out how Hudson was going to win the dual. That’s how much I believe in the program Head Coach Scott Marry and his staff has built.

Hyperbole aside, this is going to be an absolutely fantastic dual regardless of its outcome. These teams combined to send 27 of 28 possible wrestlers to the Palace, and have plenty more talent waiting in the wings should they need it.

Match-By-Match Analysis

103 – HM freshman Zach Lopinski has been very solid for the Tigers this season, but #3 Connor Krupp, also a freshman, is a pinning machine who I think will get the stick here.

112 – This has been the one relative weak spot in New Lothrop’s lineup all year, and with #2 Roddy Hamdan and #3 Tyler Roberts both at their disposal this should be a pin for the Tigers.

119 – #3 Cole Hersch was a state placer last March, but has elevated his performance to another level in his sophomore season. My guess is that he will see Hamdan, but it could just as well be Roberts. Either way this is an absolutely critical match, especially for Hudson. What makes it especially intriguing is that both Hersch and Hamdan are certified pinners, and capable of ending a match quite suddenly.

125 – Another big swing match, Hudson will almost assuredly have #4 Isaac Dusseasu at 125 to take on Dalton Birchmeier, also ranked #4 at his respective weight class. Birchmeier has really impressed me this season, but I’m going with the 3X all-state senior.

130 – Once again we have a pair of very evenly matched wrestlers who are both likely to place at the state tournament next weekend…notice any trends? I give the slight edge to #4 Gabe Bennett who proved himself to be extremely dangerous when he pinned D2 state champ Bailey Jack in a high pressure dual last month.

135 – Wait for it…another swing match! #10 Trevor Copes has really broke out for the Hornets this season, but HM Carlos Randall is a tough senior also capable of picking up a decision here.

140 – After 4 consecutive weights that could easily go either way, we finally have a clear favorite. #1 Cole Weaver is the best wrestler in all of D4, but will have a tough opponent in #3 Steve Garza. Last season Garza was a stud freshman, but after transferring from Montrose he was ineligible until recently, so I don’t have a great feel for where he stands right now. Time and time again Weaver has stepped up to plate when it matters most, and I think the senior locks up one of his signature cradles and records a fall in his final match at Kellogg Arena.

145/152 – New Lothrop has the option of using Erik Birchmeier or #4 Aaron Bauman at either weight. Whoever they go with at 145 will take on #1 JD Waters, while the other will see #4 Kyle Johnson at 152. Regardless of whom Bauman wrestles I see it being a swing match. Birchmeier, meanwhile, is a clear underdog against either, but has had a very solid freshman season that included a brief stint in the rankings.

160 – The Hornets are solid from top to bottom, but 160-189 is where they are especially nasty, and it also happens to be the weakest stretch of Hudson’s lineup. The Tiger’s will have the option of HM’s Brian Sumber or Clayton Brockway who will be severely outmatched against #1 Josh Wendling, but best case scenario may be capable of holding him to a major.

171 – #1 Taylor Krupp is as dangerous as they come, and while Hudson will have an SQ here as they do at every weight, I am very confident that Krupp gets 6.

189 – #2 Cody Symons will be in a similar position to teammates Wendling and Krupp. He is a significant favorite, but will have a solid opponent whose singular mission will be to slow him down and stay off their back. Hudson could also possibly go with #8 Mitch Ely here in what would likely be a pretty competitive match, but I think they will bump him to 215 where his chances to win are better.

215 – New Lothrop has a pair of top-10 seniors here in #8 Dakota Clark and #9 Owen Wilson. Either will be a favorite to earn a decision against Ely assuming he is whom Hudson decides to go with, but I don’t think an upset is too unrealistic.

285 – I don’t believe Hudson has had a true heavyweight at any point this season, so their only option may be to bump up #4 Jake Morgan. He will be giving up some size against talented young big man and #8-ranked David Robertson, but Morgan has been a clutch performer in the Tiger’s previous title runs.

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