The state of Michigan was flooded with talent over the weekend as not only did the Individual State Championships take place, but the MAC Tournament and Big Ten Tournament were both hosted by Michigan schools. With all of that action, a little time was needed to truly take it all in and simmer on the results. We'll try and break everything down as best we can here.
First, the State Tournament. Before we dive into the actual wrestling, let's talk venue. Ford Field. There were some definite pros and cons of the new host site. It seemed that the Lions' home field was getting mixed reviews across the board from coaches and spectators.
On the positive side, coaches had a lot of space to move on the floor compared to years past. The warm-up area was sufficient, including non-mat space to run and stretch. Teams were also able to actually go through a wrestling warm-up before matches, which has never happened before. Probably the best part of the weekend was the Championship Round. Running straight through the finals was excellent, as everyone had hoped, and the rate at which matches were taking place allowed casual fans to enjoy the experience.
There were definitely some challenges as well. The length of the first day ran a little over what it was expected to, making for a long night with a quick turn around. The semi-finals were a little different from past years as two weights were going at once which made it a little difficult to take it all in and enjoy arguably the most exciting round. With 20 mats, the tournament flew by on day one. Five rounds in each division equated to over 1200 matches. Trying to keep track of all that as a fan had to be nearly impossible and many people expressed that they simply watched the division with which they were most closely associated. That begs the question as to if we really need all four divisions under one roof or not.
With all that said, the bottom line is that it was a tall task for the MHSAA to go from the perfect venue to a new one with a completely different format (two-day). There is no doubt that work is already being done to keep improving and making tweaks to make it the best we possibly can.
Now to the wrestling. Here's what went down in a division-by-division finals recap as well as some quick hits on how the Division 1 programs fared in their conference championships. Be sure to come back all throughout the week as we'll be rolling out a ton of content that you'll surely enjoy.
The big story in D1 was the showdown at 152 between two of the state's top pound-for-pound wrestlers, Davison's Alex Facundo and DCC's Cameron Amine. Facundo, a freshman, picked up a critical takedown in the second period and held off some late attempts to dethrone the two-time state champ Amine. Hopefully it won't be the last time they square off as it was super entertaining for the fans and they are two of the best the state has to offer.
DCC did crown five champions of their seven total finalists. It was the third consecutive year in which they won five individual titles. Ben Kamali capped off his Shamrock career with his third title, while junior Kevon Davenport kept a shot four titles in tact with his third as well. Josh Edmond, Derek Gilcher, and Easton Turner each won their first state championship. Coach Hancock's squad had 13 wrestlers achieve all-state status, which is a new state record.
Three other wrestlers repeated as champions in the big school division. 125 lber Mike Mars finished his John Glenn career with his third title and was a rare four-time D1 finalist. His future U of M teammate Nick Freeman won his second championship in as many years. CMU-bound 189 lber Ben Cushman of Flushing was totally dominant in his run to back-to-back titles after winning it at 215 last year.
A couple of programs had firsts on Saturday. Macomb Dakota had never had an individual state champion and left Ford Field with two. Brock Prater won a title at 103 lbs, while Layne Malczewski, a four-time all-stater headed to MSU, finished an unbeaten season as the 171 pound champ. Dearborn Edsel Ford's Will Marano earned his first title after three prior podium finishes, becoming the school's first champion since 1985.
Rounding out the champions, sophomore Andrew Chambal won the 112 pound bracket for Davison with a 7-1 win in the finals and Bedford's Austin Emerson moved up one spot from last season claiming top honors at heavyweight. Emerson will head to EMU next year.
Four wrestlers became two-time State Champs in Division 2. Two of those were seniors - Branson Proudlock of Gibraltar Carlson and Austin O'Hearon of Eaton Rapids. Proudlock was dominant all through his run to another title as he picked up an 8-2 win in the finals. O'Hearon won a 3-1 decision over Dustin Gross of Annapolis, who was in his third straight finals.
The other pair of two-timers were sophomores- Lowell's Austin Boone and Gaylord's Chayse LaJoie. Both won tight matches, with Boone picking up a 6-4 win and LaJoie earning a 4-1 decision over previously unbeaten Vince Perez of Tecumseh.
LaJoie's teammate Derek Giallombardo ended his career for Gaylord with a state championship at 125 pounds after finishing 4th the previous two seasons. One of the best finals matches in D2, he came out on top of a 10-8 war in the title bout. He is committed to Ohio University.
Niles senior Austin Franco capped off an outstanding career with an elusive state title at 119. Franco had previously finished in the top-three each of his first three prep seasons. He took down a tough competitor in Goodrich's Caleb Teague, 10-8, and ended his final season undefeated.
Three other wrestlers capped off unbeaten seasons with Division Two championships. Chelsea's Corbyn Munson, Sparta's Alec Rees, and Huron's Drake Pauwels each won the first titles of their careers. Munson and Pauwels are seniors headed to CMU and EMU, respectively. Rees, a junior and returning state runner-up, would not be denied this year and scored a fall in the finals.
At 140, junior James Whitaker completed an outstanding year for St. Johns scoring a takedown in the final 30 seconds to outlast Eaton Rapids' Caleb Fish in the championship. Also winning his first title as a junior was Cedar Springs' Ryan Ringler. Ringler controlled his finals match, 9-4, and ended the season on top of the podium after a pair of third-place finishes in his first two seasons.
103 pounder Riley Bettich of Lakeshore cruised through his bracket, picking up bonus points in every match. He notched three straight pins before scoring 15-0 tech fall in the finals. It was his second finals appearance in as many years.
Winning championships in the upper weights were Adrian's Hunter Krueger at 215 and Mason's Riley Smith, who both won rematches of Regional Final bouts. Krueger's win was one of the wilder finals matches in any division. He was awarded a takedown in sudden victory and proceeded to celebrate with his coaches, only to have the call overturned. The Maples senior stayed composed and came back to ride out his opponent in the tiebreakers to earn a state championship.
Smith flipped his regional result, where he finished 2nd. This time he came out on top against Lakeshore's Tyler Hill and picked up a pin in the third period.
Two wrestlers capped off illustrious careers as four-time MHSAA state champions, the 23rd and 24th to ever do so. Lake Fenton's Jarrett Trombley and Dundee's Brandon Whitman both marched to the top of the podium for the fourth straight time, marking the first time wrestlers had achieved such a feat in the same division in the same season. Trombley won 8-2 and Whitman won 6-0 as both received well-deserved standing ovations from the crowd. They'll see more of each other in years to come as both head to the ACC for college - Trombley to NC State and Whitman to North Carolina.
Tri County's Dakota Greer won his third championship at 125 pounds, scoring a 9-2 win in the finals over Reese Wallis of Montrose. 112 pounder Sean Spidle was the only other wrestler to repeat as he won 12-3 in the title match. Spidle is halfway to four with two titles in two seasons.
A pair of talented freshman ended their rookie seasons with championships as well. 119 pounder Dametrius Castillo navigated a very challenging bracket to become Alma's first State Champ in 25 years. Stoney Buell of Dundee closed out year one much the same way his teammate, Whitman, did as a freshman with a 6-1 win after an incredible freshman season.
Closing out undefeated years were 103 pounder Hunter Assenmacher of Ida and 189 pounder Ethan Weatherspoon of Napoleon. Weatherspoon picked up an overtime win in the finals, while Assenmacher won 7-2 over Hart's Robbie Altland in a battle of unbeaten wrestlers.
From 140-171 in Division 3, each champion won their first title, though all had finished in the top four previously. At 140, Mason Breece picked up a late two points and held on to a 2-1 win. Richmond senior Alex Roberts earned a 5-3 victory at 145. DJ Daniels of Caro and Jackson Nevadomski of Lake Fenton both were winners by fall at 152 and 160, respectively. And Portland junior Owen Guilford scored a 10-1 major decision in the finals at 171.
Tyler Marino won a second title for Richmond at heavyweight, winning 5-1 over Delton Kellogg's Tyden Ferris in a rematch of last year's 215 pound semifinal.
Eleven first-time champions were crowned in Division 4. But first the repeat champions. Jordan Hamdan won his third straight championship at 130 for Hudson and kept his quest to become a four-timer in line. He knocked off 2x State Champ Robert Rogers of Bentley in the finals, 10-0. Also still in the hunt to win four is Mendon sophomore Skyler Crespo. Crespo went back-to-back at 135 after winning it at 125 as a freshman. He defeated fellow sophomore Matthew Grant in the finals, 4-2. Reese Fry won his second championship for Manchester. The Brown-commit pinned through the tournament.
One of the most exciting finals bouts came at 125 where Hudson's Scotty Torres avenged a prior loss to defending State Champ Noah Comar. Comar came close to tying the match late but Torres held him off and won 6-4.
Beaverton picked up their first-ever State Champs in Kyle and Eric Cassiday at 189 and 215. The pair turned in one-loss seasons and were dominant throughout their title runs.
Returning runner-ups who climbed a spot on the podium were St. Louis' Jayce Kuehnlein and Zack Menck of Lawton. Kuehnlein won it at 145 and Menck at 160, both held on to one-point victories in the finals.
Roscommon's Brenden Spencer won a loaded weight at 119, where he upended Beecher junior Khalil Moten. Spencer picked up the deciding points late to win 8-6 and earn a championship in his final season.
Three other seniors closed out their careers with state titles. Mendon's Wyatt Cool outlasted Justin Carnahan of New Lothrop, 7-5 at 171. Top-ranked Jackson Schenk of Mayville won 7-1 at heavyweight after placing 3rd a season ago. Springport's Noah Teague turned in maybe the most impressive performance of the division avenging a prior loss to Jake Davis of St. Louis in the finals after pinning defending champ Gerrit Yates in the semis.
A pair of underclassmen earned championships to round out the D4 champs. New Lothrop junior Austin Wolford capped off an outstanding year with a 5-1 win in the finals over Pine River's Andy Park, a four-time state placer. And Bronson's Ben Modert took home the championship at 103 pounds, winning 5-1 to claim his first state championships as a sophomore.
Michigan State played host to the 2018 Big Ten Championships inside the Breslin Center. The Spartans earned one automatic qualifier bid as Ann Arbor Pioneer grad Rayvon Foley placed 7th at 125 pounds.
Michigan crowned two champs in Stevan Micic at 133 and Alec Pantaleo at 157. Micic, who has not lost a match since December, scored bonus in each of his first three matches before winning 7-4 in the finals over Ohio State's Luke Pletcher.
Pantaleo had an odd run to the finals. After winning 7-3, he received a medical forfeit in the semis from Penn State's Jason Nolf who is recovering from an injury. His opponent in the finals, Micah Jordan of Ohio State, took out the top seed Michael Kemerer in the semis. Pantaleo seized the opportunity and downed Jordan 3-1, picking up his third win over the Buckeye on the year. With the two top-ranked wrestlers in the country going down, it will be very interesting to see how the seeding at 157 shakes out.
Two other Wolverines were finalists, losing only to returning NCAA Champs. Myles Amine fell 4-3 in the finals to Mark Hall at 174 after picking up a monster pin over Bo Jordan of Ohio State in the semis - his second win over Jordan on the year. Adam Coon lost to Kyle Snyder at heavyweight in another war which went into the second sudden victory period. The two will be the top two seeds at NCAA's and set up for an incredible rubber match, assuming the seeds hold.
The Maize and Blue earned four other automatic NCAA qualifying bids. Drew Mattin (125, T-9th), Logan Massa (165, 5th), Domenic Abounader (184, 3rd), and Kevin Beazley (197, 4th) all punched their tickets to Cleveland in two weeks.
141 pounder Sal Profaci and 149 pounder Malik Amine both await their fates when the at-large bids are announced on Tuesday.
The Chippewas welcomed the Mid-American Conference to Mt. Pleasant as the host site of the 2018 Championships. CMU and EMU each earned four automatic NCAA qualifiers and finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively in the team standings.
The race for second came down to the Heavyweight championship match where CMU freshman Matt Stencel picked up a fall over EMU's Gage Hutchison to win the MAC crown and lock in the 2nd place finish for Central. Both Stencel and Hutchison qualified for NCAA's.
CMU had two runner-ups in Mason Smith at 141 and CJ Brucki at 174 pounds. Both are locked in as NCAA qualifiers for the second time of their careers.
Colin Heffernan advanced to his third NCAA tournament at 157 for CMU after taking 3rd place. He won a 5-4 battle in his final bout in McGuirk Arena, clinching a tournament appearance in his hometown of Cleveland.
Eastern Michigan had one champion as well. 184 pounder Kayne MacCallum won 8-2 in the finals after upsetting CMU's Jordan Ellingwood in overtime in the semifinals.
The Eagles had two other wrestlers advance to the title matches of their weights. Zac Carson (165) and Derek Hillman (197) turned in runner-up performances. Both finished outside the auto-bid slots for their weight.
Rounding out the EMU qualifiers were Sa'Derian Perry and Kyle Springer at 141 and 149 pounds. Both wrestlers won in the match to qualify by fall, earning their first trips to the national tournament.
CMU is awaiting a few wild card selections from Tuesday's at-large meeting. Justin Oliver should be a lock to get one at 149 pounds. Jordan Ellingwood at 184 and Jordan Atienza at 197 are both in good position to get slots as well as both are in the top-33 of the Coaches Poll and RPI rankings, which are big factors in deciding the wild cards.