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Grappler Gold

Dream Team Battle: 2007 vs. 2017

By MI Grappler, 04/15/17, 9:15AM EDT


Top 5 heavyweights in the country, 10 years apart. Jarod Trice (left) of Highland Park (2007) & Trent Hillger (right) of Lake Fenton (2017)

2007 vs. 2017 Dream Team.  Who ya got?  It was really interesting to think about how some of these guys would've matched up.  Some legends on the 2007 and hopefully future legends on this year's team.

It's important to recall the landscape of Michigan wrestling in 2007.  There was a separate state finals for everyone from the Upper Peninsula.  MYWA/NUWAY was just coming into it's own, and didn't have nearly as many tournaments as they do today.  Flonationals didn't exist, and Super 32 was in the early stages.  So nationally, the best guys went to Fargo, Disney Duals, Senior Nationals, and a handful went to FILA (now UWW) Cadets- that was pretty much it.  And it was the first year of MI Grappler.  You'll see one wrestler who didn't compete at all during the season, and another who makes the Dream Team at a different weight class than what he wrestled at state.  Two firsts and lasts.  How far we've come.

We took a stab at who we thought would win, but cast your vote on the right side and comment below!

103 lbs
2007- Kyle Waldo, Rockford, So. (45-1)- D1 State Champ
2017- Chayse LaJoie, Gaylord, Fr. (52-3)- D2 State Champ

Breakdown- Two guys that didn't suffer a loss at 103 in the state.  LaJoie's losses all were at 112, while Waldo's lone defeat was to Jamie Clark of St. Ed's (OH).  So to say this would be a great match is an understatement.  At the end of the day though, I think Waldo is just a step quicker and a bit more technical than LaJoie and squeaks out a decision.
Team Score: 3-0, 2007

112 lbs
2007- Alex Gorton, Rockford, So. (0-0)- 5th NHSCA Senior Nationals, 4th FILA Cadet Freestyle
2017- Ben Kamali, Detroit CC, Jr. (41-3)- D1 State Champ, Flonationals Champ, 7th Super32, 8th Cadet Freestyle, 6th Cadet Greco

Breakdown- Interesting case here- Gorton was the only wrestler to not wrestle one MHSAA match and make the dream team.  A 2x state champ in previous years, he showed up to Senior Nationals and took 5th.  He'd run into major issues with Kamali, though.  The gas tank and array of attacks would neutralize the physicality that Gorton brought.  Kamali in like an 8-6 win.
Team Score: 3-3

119 lbs.
2007- Pete Rendina, Dundee, So. (60-1)- D3 State Champ
2017- Jordan Hamdan, Hudson, So. (48-2)- D4 State Champ, Cadet Greco Champ

Breakdown: A great match-up here, especially if you're from Southeast Michigan.  Kind of a style clash too.  Rendina was an absolute goer, while Hamdan is a bit more calculated and efficient.  In '07, Rendina won a chart featuring future 3x champ Ryen Nieman, future 2x champ JT Gustin, and 4x placer Jared Germaine.  That said, Hamdan steals this one 4-3.
Team Score: 6-3, 2017

125 lbs.
2007- Andrew Novak, New Boston Huron, Sr. (57-0)- D2 State Champ
2017- Dominic LaJoie, Gaylord, Sr. (52-0)- D2 State Champ, 4th Junior Freestyle, 4th Junior Greco

Breakdown: Better match-up than most probably think.  Novak was legit.  He knocked off a freshman Jackson Morse on his way to his second title, and a year later was in the MAC finals for EMU.  Lajoie was completely dominant all year though.  Give the edge on the mat to Novak, Lajoie from neutral.  After 6 minutes, I'll take LaJoie 7-5 with some great action.
Team Score: 9-3, 2017

130 lbs.
2007- Jeff Shutich, Rockford, Sr. (53-0)- D1 State Champ
2017- Jarrett Trombley, Lake Fenton, Jr. (57-0)- D3 State Champ

Breakdown: Shutich had 4 career losses, one of which was to a different, unrelated Trombley (Joel).  A lot of people would chalk this up as a no-brainer for Jarrett Trombley, as it's a 3xer vs. a 1xer.  But if you watched Shutich, you know he was the real deal.  I think this would be a war from every position, with Trombley getting his hand raised with a 5-4 dub.
Team Score: 12-3, 2017


135 lbs.
2007- Jeff Steele, Plainwell, Sr. (59-0)- D2 State Champ
2017- Nolan Saxton, Chippewa Hils, Sr. (58-0)- D3 State Champ

Breakdown: Probably one of the bigger toss-ups of this theoretical dual.  Steele won his second title in '07 and was super tough on the mat.  Saxton won his first this year and is really slick on his feet.  So I think it's a low-scoring struggle, and those tend to go to the guy who's better on the mat.  Steele by 1.
Team Score: 12-6, 2017

140 lbs.
2007- Corey Phillips, Canton, Sr. (56-0)- D1 State Champ
2017- Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central, Sr. (34-0)- D1 State Champ, 2nd UWW Junior Freestyle, 3rd Junior Greco

Breakdown: Phillips won a weight which included two wrestlers who placed top-6 at Senior Nationals at 140.  Phillips actually cut down to 135 for Seniors, beat #1 ranked Vincente Varela (NM), and got concussed his next match, ultimately missing the podium.  So he was legit.  However.  Freeman is on another level.  He'd have too much offense and while I think Phillips could hang for a bit, Freeman would be pushing for a major here.
Team Score: 16-6, 2017

145 lbs.
2007- Anthony Jones, Highland Park, Sr. (47-0)- D3 State Champ, 3rd FILA Cadet Freestyle
2017- Cameron Amine, Detroit CC, So. (45-3)- D1 State Champ, 3rd Flonationals, 7th Cadet Freestyle, 4th Cadet Greco

Breakdown: Before wrestling and coaching for MSU, Jones won a title in 2007 for HP.  A Senior Jones vs. Sophomore Amine matchup would be a great one I think.  There would be a lot of action, probably get a little chippy too.  Jones was tough to score on and Amine scores a lot of points.  Final score, 5-2 Amine.
Team Score: 19-6, 2017

152 lbs.
2007- Lester France, Flat Rock, Sr. (59-0)- D3 State Champ, 8th NHSCA Senior Nationals
2017- Bret Fedewa, St. Johns, Sr. (53-0)- D2 State Champ

Breakdown: Fedewa enjoyed a strong senior year, knocking off some tough kids.  France would have presented a significant challenge to him.  A 3x finalist, he won his second title in '07 and tacked on a Senior National AA finish.  I think Fedewa controls early but France out-slicks him late.  4-2 for the ODU-commit (and later EMU transfer) France.
Team Score: 19-9, 2017

160 lbs.
2007- Justin Zeerip, Hesperia, Sr. (66-0)- D4 State Champ, 3rd NHSCA Senior Nationals
2017- Sean Sterling, Dundee, Sr. (28-0)

Breakdown: Sterling's been one of the top guys in the state for a couple years and won his second title this year.  He'd have a tall task in Zeerip who, in 2007, put the finishing touches on a 260-0 career with 203 pins(!).  Sterling is good enough to hang with Zeerip, but JZ gets the decision.
Team Score: 19-12, 2017

171 lbs.
2007- Cam Simaz, Allegan, Sr. (59-1)- D2 State Champ, 5th Super32, 5th FILA Cadet Freestyle, 6th Junior Freestyle
2017- Tyler Morland, Detroit CC, Sr. (37-0)- D1 State Champ, 8th Junior Freestyle

Breakdown: Might need an asterisk next to Simaz here as he wrestled 189 for state; he's the first and only Dream Treamer to make it at a weight not wrestled at state.  At first glance, you think Simaz runs away with it.  But Morland has been dominant over the past two seasons, and they placed similarly at Junior Nationals.  Even so, I'm going with Simaz by a couple.
Team Score: 19-15, 2017

189 lbs.
2007- Erich Smith, Ishpeming Westwood, Sr. (N/A)- UP State Champ
2017- Jelani Embree, Warren Lincoln, Sr. (36-0)- D2 State Champ, Flonationals Champ, 4th Super32, 3rd Junior Freestyle, 6th Junior Greco

Breakdown: The only Yooper to ever make the list, Smith was a 3xer at the then-separate UP State Finals.  Like Embree, Smith headed to Michigan before becoming an NCAA Qualifier for Penn.  However, he simply wouldn't have enough to knock off Embree.  Too much offense and superior positioning would give the Abe a 4-5 point win.
Team Score: 22-15, 2017

215 lbs.
2007- Travis Pettingill, Flint Kearsley, Jr. (55-0)- D2 State Champ, 7th Cadet Freestyle
2017- Jared Roehl, Millington, Sr. (38-0)- D3 State Champ

Breakdown: Good matchup featuring two Flint/Saginaw area titans.  It's hard to see many guys beating Roehl, as his only losses in the past three  years are to McRill and Whitman.  However, in 2007, Pettingill beat Marcel Dubose during the season and dethroned 2x defending champ Dan Craig of Allegan on his way to an undefeated title.  So in a 2-1/3-2 match, with likely an overtime or two, Pettingill wins.
Team Score: 22-18, 2017

285 lbs.
2007- Jarod Trice, Highland Park, Sr. (45-0)- D3 State Champ, Senior National Champ, 4th Junior Freestyle
2017- Trent Hillger, Lake Fenton, Sr. (59-0)- D3 State Champ, Dapper Dan Team USA

Breakdown: Wow.  Best match-up of the dual.  Both guys ranked #3 in the country.  Both D3 guys. Trice won Senior Nationals, Hillger is the highest ranked senior in the country. While they both were dominant in their respective senior years, I don't think many points would be scored here.  And it's an overtime match more than likely.  Coin flip, but I take Hillger.  
Team Score: 25-18, 2017