2-Time Champion Langewicz Paving Historic Path Amid Growing Spotlight

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

December 20, 2023

Sky Langewicz knows she’s part of something special. 

Bay & ThumbThe Algonac junior started her high school career the same year the MHSAA Girls Wrestling Finals debuted. And as she’s brought home a pair of Finals titles to cap her first two years, she’s also watched the sport grow rapidly around her.

“There were other girls state tournaments, so I always knew I could do that,” Langewicz said. “But I’m really thankful my freshman year was the first year. … It’s kind of cool to be part of it all happening. It happened so fast. I went from being one of the only girls in youth wrestling, now there are women’s high school teams around me. It’s cool to see all these girls joining. It’s really cool to be part of it.”

Langewicz is not just part of it – she’s one of the best, not only in the state, but the nation in a sport that’s booming. She’s ranked No. 11 in the nation at 110 pounds by FloWrestling and has built up an impressive resume over her first two seasons.

Her two Finals titles – at 105 and 110 pounds – are joined by a pair of MUSAW Freestyle state championships. During her sophomore year, she won the Michigan Grappler Fall Classic and placed fourth in the USAW Central Regional Championships. She also placed second in the Macomb County Invitational and third in the Blue Water Area Conference championships, both boys tournaments.

She’s never lost a girls high school match, and this season, she’s off to a 6-3 start at 113 pounds, with all her matches coming against boys. Two of her three losses came to unbeaten wrestlers. 

Most of her matches are still wrestled against boys, and she’s OK with that. She was 42-5 a year ago against the boys – 14-0 against girls – and her freshman year she was torn on whether to enter the boys or the girls MHSAA Tournament before ultimately deciding to become part of history.

“That was the big question,” said Langewicz, who was 19-0 against girls as a freshman. “That wasn’t completely my decision, but I thought it was better to win it in the girls than to be a boys state placer.”

Both of Langewicz’s Finals titles finished with wins against Gaylord’s Sunni LaFond. Langewicz won 5-3 in the 2023 Finals, and 3-0 in 2022.

Langewicz’s arm is raised in victory.She isn’t sure what weight class she will eventually wind up at for this year’s tournament, but seeing LaFond, who is also a junior, is certainly a real possibility.

“I think it’s pretty cool to have that rivalry,” Langewicz said. “It’s a pretty big part of wrestling, to have a rivalry like that.”

A girls rivalry is fairly new for Langewicz, as she’s been competing against the boys her entire life. She played quarterback on a boys football team in third grade, and in her first youth wrestling season, mostly against boys, she went 15-3.

“It was pretty quick,” Algonac coach Brian Ranger said of when he knew Langewicz could be special. “I knew if I could just point her in the right direction, and do what I can here locally, she had the ability. It was just a matter of making it happen.”

While Clawson’s Katlyn Pizzo, a two-time MHSAA Finals qualifier and 2017 placer, is the one girl Langewicz remembers watching compete when she was younger, Langewicz’s older brothers really sparked her interest in the sport.

“I always went to their tournaments and always thought it was fun,” she said. “I was already involved in other sports, football was one of those, and those boys were my friends, so I wanted to be part of it.”

Now, however, Langewicz is giving girls in Algonac and around the state someone to look up to as their interest in the sport grows. Among them is Ranger’s daughter, Emma, a third grader in Algonac’s youth program.

That’s not lost on Langewicz.

“I feel like I have a lot of responsibility with that,” she said. “Knowing that I have a lot of girls, even in Algonac, there are so many that look up to me, and so many that tell me they started wrestling because they saw me.”

As Langewicz handles the duties of being a role model, she’s also chasing her own dreams on the mat and juggling decisions about her future. 

As a junior, what happens after high school is still an open question. But it’s not just where Langewicz will go, but if she will wrestle at all.

She’s undecided on that, currently, as even though the number of women’s collegiate wrestling programs is growing, it’s still relatively small. That means finding the right athletic and academic fit is tougher, and Langewicz – who has spoken with multiple colleges – currently wants to become a chiropractor. 

Whether or not she chooses to wrestle in college, she has a chance to become part of an exclusive club.

Thanks to great timing – and great wrestling – Langewicz has a chance to become one of the first four-time girls MHSAA Individual Finals champions. Both her and Fowlerville’s Margaret Buurma are on pace through two years. 

“That’s the vision,” Ranger said. “She’s good enough, she just has to believe in herself. Now that she’s done it a couple times, she knows that she’s good enough. There are so many factors – being healthy, having great training partners in the room. She does a lot in spring and summer. We’re excited for her to have a chance at No. 3 this year, then hopefully there’s a chance to win four.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Algonac’s Sky Langewicz, left, wrestles Gaylord’s Sunni LaFond during last season’s Individual Finals at Ford Field. (Middle) Langewicz’s arm is raised in victory. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Imlay City's D'Ambrosio: Calm, Cool & Contending for School's 1st Mat Championship

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

February 7, 2024

Dominic D’Ambrosio’s answer when asked at 5 years old if he wanted to start wrestling was probably a clue for what was to come.

Bay & Thumb“I remember when my dad asked me if I wanted to wrestle,” D’Ambrosio said. “I think I just said, ‘Sure.’”

It’s not that D’Ambrosio would be nonchalant or aloof when it came to wrestling. He’s quite the opposite, actually. The work he’s put in has him unbeaten at 43-0 as a senior, ranked among the top four at 138 pounds in Division 3, and threatening to become the Spartans’ first Individual Finals champion.

The clue was that D’Ambrosio was going to be calm and cool on the mat, and have a grounded view of the sport off it, which has also helped him reach those heights.

“When I was younger, I got an award for being a cool cucumber – the Cool as a Cucumber award,” he said. “When I lose, I just look at it as I can get better from it. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. It’s serious, the work you put into it, but it’s not so serious. If you lose, you just want to get better. I just like to get the work done.”

To be fair, D’Ambrosio doesn’t do much losing.

He’s dropped just nine matches during his four-year career, compared to 159 wins, and a third of those losses came against Dundee four-time Finals champion Braeden Davis, who is now unbeaten and ranked No. 5 in the country at 125 pounds as a true freshman at Penn State.

D’Ambrosio, right, takes to the mat during his early years in the sport. D’Ambrosio was 14-0 as a freshman when COVID-19 ended the Spartans’ 2020-21 season short of the postseason. He placed third at the Finals as a sophomore, and fifth as a junior.

He has his eyes on the ultimate prize this year, and for a moment he allowed the thought to get him out of his even-keeled nature. But even that doesn’t last long.

“It would be pretty special,” he said. “I’ve been working hard for it. But, either way, I’m just going to go and leave it all out there.”

D’Ambrosio is the son of Imlay City coach Tony D’Ambrosio, which in some cases could create more pressure. But not this one. And a lot of that could be credited to Tony.

“We always tried to keep the pressure low and just have fun,” said Tony D’Ambrosio, who is in his 10th year at the helm in Imlay City. “We just focus on getting better. He’s always just wrestled. It’s just how he is. Dominic doesn’t even look at the brackets. He doesn’t find out who he’s wrestling until he shakes hands.”

What happens after they shake hands isn’t what one would expect from someone who could win that same Cool as a Cucumber award every year. 

D’Ambrosio’s matches typically don’t last long. Of his 159 wins, 105 have come by pin, including all three of his wins at the 2023 Individual Finals. As a junior, he set the school pin record at 41. This season, 32 of his 43 wins have been by pinfall.

Just four of his matches have gone beyond the first period this season, and only two of those have gone the distance. 

“This year, he’s really been turning it all on,” Tony D’Ambrosio said. “He didn’t start pinning a lot until later on into middle school and high school. It’s just basic stuff, not anything fancy. He’s a nice kid, but when he’s on the mat, he’s going to turn you over.”

D’Ambrosio, right, works to pin an opponent. Dominic isn’t a thrower, and his pins aren’t the result of catching an opponent in anything fluky. He’s just meticulous, and able to take advantage of any opening he’s given.

“I’m (working on a half Nelson) 100 times, 200 times during the week, so I’ll be able to hit it during the weekend,” he said. “If I got somebody’s head, nobody is getting out of it. I can just flow really well into a pinning sequence.”

As he pins his way through the season, D’Ambrosio is racking up awards. He’s been named Most Valuable Wrestler at four tournaments bouncing between 138 and 144, and at one point found himself ranked No. 1 by Michigan Grappler at 138.

As you would expect, he hasn’t allowed that to get to his head, and as his father puts it, “the only ranking that matters is the podium.”

With District tournaments this week, D’Ambrosio now can focus 100 percent of his efforts on getting to the top of that podium. But don’t expect the pressure to mount in his house or on the mat.

“It would be special,” Tony D’Ambrosio said. “But, again, as long as he goes out there and just does what he does, and does his best – it’s kind of like the NCAAs, you have to have a good weekend. It doesn’t dictate who you are. It would be awesome, and it’s a great goal to have. It would be a great goal to accomplish and be the first (from Imlay City). But wherever he ends up, I’m going to be proud of what he’s done.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Imlay City’s Dominic D’Ambrosio, right, wrestles to a fifth-place finish at 132 pounds in Division 3 last season at Ford Field. (Middle) D’Ambrosio, right, takes to the mat during his early years in the sport. (Below) D’Ambrosio, right, works to pin an opponent. (Top photo by High School Sports Scene; other photos courtesy of the D’Ambrosio family.)