AUBURN HILLS – Taylor Massa looked up to Davison’s Brett Metcalf as a kid and grew up only 30 minutes from Williamston’s Simmons brothers. And the St. Johns senior surely knows all about Hesperia’s Justin Zeerip as well.
Massa has been mentioned with those names for three seasons, since going undefeated and winning his first MHSAA individual title as a freshman in 2009. Now, he will be discussed as arguably the best of the group.
As expected, Massa finished his high school career with one more win Saturday at The Palace of Auburn Hills, pinning Ferndale’s Chevez Farris in 2:35 to earn the Division 2 championship at 171 pounds. In doing so, Massa also became the 15th in MHSAA history to win four individual titles. And he joined Metcalf, Zeerip and Nick and Andy Simmons among wrestlers who never lost in MHSAA competition.
“Brett Metcalf, he’s one of my biggest idols ever. I looked up at him growing up and I was like, I want to do what he’s doing,” Massa said. “That’s what I strived for, and I hope I can motivate some kid enough to go out and work hard enough to earn this. Because it’s not given. You earn this.”
He earned 221 wins over four seasons, tying for 20th-most in the MHSAA record book – and that’s with going only 42-0 this season. He won 59 matches as both a freshman and junior and 61 as a sophomore.
Massa also stacked his wins in what are traditionally some of the most comeptitive weight classes. His championships came at 145, 152, 160 and 171 pounds. And, as his coach Zane Ballard pointed out, Massa beat reigning MHSAA champions and anyone he could find as soon as he first walked onto the high school mat.
“In my personal opinion, yeah, he is the best of the bunch. For high school, I’ve never seen anybody that dominant,” Ballard said. “I’ve watched the other ones. They’re all great wrestlers. All great people, and I have all the respect for them in the world. But in my eyes, Taylor is number one and will be, in high school, until somebody does it in a more impressive fashion.”
Massa said during the Team Finals that he already had more than 200 pins for his career – and that was before getting four more this weekend. Zeerip holds the MHSAA record with 203 pins for a career, but Massa could be at the top of the list when his final statistics are compiled.
He won by pin in 11 of 16 career Individual Finals matches. But Farris didn’t make this one easy. Massa led just 2-0 after the first period before gaining control early in the second.
Massa's 221 wins without a loss will place him seventh in the national record book for consecutive victories. He’s wrestled internationally and wants to make a run at the Olympics. He’s signed to continue his career at the University of Michigan next season.
But Saturday’s finish – along with team championships St. Johns won the last three seasons – ranks right up there with the best of what he’s accomplished so far.
“This is one of the top things,” Massa said. “It’s a great honor.”
PHOTO (top): Massa wrestles Ferndale's Chevez Farris in the Division 2 171-pound Final. See more photos from the Finals and all season at High School Sports Scene.