By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half
DETROIT – Kevon Davenport hopes what he accomplished Saturday night at Ford Field will stretch far and wide in the Michigan wrestling community.
The Detroit Catholic Central senior became the 26th wrestler to win four Individual Finals titles when he defeated Bay City Western senior Vic Schoenherr 7-3 to claim the 145-pound Division 1 championship.
But more importantly to Davenport is that he is the first Africa-American wrestler from the state to win four championships.
"In my opinion, the sport of wrestling is not a super diverse sport," said Davenport, who improved to 35-1 with the win. "There is not that many African-American wrestlers out there, and I wanted to come along and inspire people. Hopefully them seeing me be the first four-time African-American state champ, they can try and bring wrestling to the Detroit Public School system. I want to grow wrestling through my own community."
Like he has throughout his career, Davenport was on top of his game Saturday afternoon, staying in control against Schoenherr (49-1) and giving him his only loss of the season.
"I would have liked to perform a little bit better, but I won and I am grateful for that," Davenport said. "I felt like the only pressure that was on me was the pressure I was putting on myself.”
Champion: Kavan Troy, Rochester, Soph. (50-0)
Fall, 5:04, over Aden Williams, Davison, Fr. (24-5)
Last year Troy failed to qualify for the MHSAA Finals, but he didn't look at that as a negative. Instead, he used it as a positive for this season.
He worked hard in the offseason to add muscle on his frame, and he came back on a mission. That mission was complete when he pinned Williams to claim the 103-pound title.
"I never gave up," Troy said. "I kept working and lifting in the offseason. And football really made me stronger. I thought my technique was pretty good last year, but I was 100 pounds so I needed to put on muscle. This year I grew and got stronger."
Champion: Brenden Ferretti, Macomb Dakota, Soph. (53-0)
Major Decision, 10-2, over Zein Bazzi, Dearborn Heights Crestwood, Soph. (45-4)
Sometimes giving up the first points in a huge match can cause panic.
But not for Ferretti, who gave up the first takedown to Bazzi and then went on to earn a workmanlike 10-2 major decision victory and the 112-pound championship.
Ferretti gave a lot of credit to his workout partners in his team's practice room, and it was easy to see why.
"I have been working very hard this year, and I know that I have really good stamina," Ferretti said. "I believe I am never out of it, no matter what happens."
Champion: Nick Alayan, Macomb Dakota, Sr. (49-3)
Decision, 6-4, over Andrew Chambal, Davison, Jr. (38-3)
Most wrestlers remember the losses more than the wins.
And when they get the opportunity to avenge a past Finals championship loss against the same opponent the next year, it's hard to temper the drive for revenge.
That is what took place when Alayan and Chambal locked up for the 119-pound title. This year was Alayan's time, as he beat Chambal 6-4. Last year Chambal took the 112-pound title with a 7-1 win over Alayan.
"I had nothing to lose this year," Alayan said. "I was the underdog this year, and that felt great not having much pressure. This year me and my team worked a little bit harder to train for this."
Champion: Eddie Homrock, Brighton, Jr. (53-2)
Decision, 3-2, over Justin Triburcio, Macomb Dakota, Sr. (40-4)
When most wrestlers end their seasons, they start preparing for a little down time and some good food.
When Homrock walked off the mat Saturday evening after winning the 125-pound title with a hard-fought 3-2 win, he did a set of four sprints back and forth on the Ford Field turf.
"I always do sprints at the end of my matches, because it keeps me in better shape," Homrock said. "I have been wrestling forever, and doing those sprints right there is going to get me in better shape for tournaments that come up later."
Champion: Kyle Kantola, Hartland, Sr. (49-0)
Decision, 3-0, over T.J. Daugherty, Waterford Kettering, Jr. (40-1)
Kantola has had to wrestle a full six-minute match three times this season, and two of those came this weekend at Ford Field.
Kantola beat Detroit Catholic Central's Camden Trupp 6-0 in the semifinals, and then beat 2017 103-pound champion Daugherty in the final 3-0.
"I practiced hard knowing that I might have to go six minutes this weekend, and it happened twice," Kantola said.
And now he is a champion, after being a runner-up a year ago.
"I knew I didn't want to be second again, so I just kept pushing every day to be on top," Kantola said. "Now it feels good."
Champion: Josh Edmond, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (37-2)
Decision, 7-3, over Brody Kemper, Grand Blanc, Jr. (41-5)
Even though he had just secured his second straight championship, Edmond walked off the mat a bit upset at himself.
He was happy to be a champion again, but not thrilled about the way he wrestled.
"I didn't score enough points," Edmond said. "I wanted to dominate, and I didn't even get a major decision so I think I underachieved."
And that is how the best become the best.
"I wanted to dominate this tournament, and every other match I got bonus points," Edmond said. "I'm happy, though."
Champion: Derek Gilcher, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (32-2)
Decision, 7-2, over Marc Shaeffer, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (21-5)
All season and offseason you drill with your teammates, so it is never easy to take on a teammate in a match.
Make it an MHSAA Finals match with a title on the line, and that makes the task even harder.
In what can be described as the ultimate challenge match, Gilcher defeated Shaeffer 7-2 to earn his second straight title.
"It is always hard to see someone on your team, especially at the state finals," Gilcher said. "It's different, because he knows everything that I do and I know what he likes."
Champion: Cam Amine, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (37-0)
Major Decision, 11-3, over Jaden Fisher, Lake Orion, Sr. (49-2)
In what was one of the top matches at last year's Finals, Amine lost a heart-breaker to Davison's Alex Facundo, erasing his chance to become a four-time champion.
Amine used that loss to hone his already elite skills and push his endurance to the limit. And that paid off this year, as Amine capped a perfect season with a major decision victory over Fisher for his third title.
"It was the whole motivation coming into this year," Amine said. "That drove me every day to get better. (Last year) he got me in that match, and I had to get better so that would never happen again.
"Being a three-time champion is a great accomplishment. When I first came in as a freshman I wanted to be a four-time champion, and that didn't happen so I used that as motivation."
Champion: Alex Facundo, Davison, Soph. (37-2)
Decision, 9-3, over Devin Trevino, Clarkston, Sr. (45-5)
Facundo's path to greatness is still intact, but it wasn't easy Saturday evening.
After cruising through his bracket with two technical falls and a pin, Facundo met a game Trevino and grinded out a 9-3 win.
"It feels good to be a two-time champion, but I wanted to win by at least a (technical fall in the final); that was my goal," Facundo said. "I like to set goals, so I was a little frustrated with myself. I am not really satisfied with my win, but that will just make me work harder."
Champion: River Shettler, Brighton, Sr. (50-2)
Decision, 2-1 (2OT), over Dylan Wellbaum, Lake Orion, Sr. (47-2)
Shettler said he will take it.
He won his first Finals title when he was awarded a stalling point in double overtime, after finishing runner-up last year.
Wellbaum made it to the championship match after failing to qualify for the Finals last year.
"That kid came out of nowhere this year," Shettler said. "He was unranked, and he comes out there and wrestles (well). We both wanted the same thing. We both wrestled awesome, and I have mad respect for him."
Champion: Easton Turner, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (38-3)
Decision, 4-0, over Cal Stefanko, Davison, Sr. (31-3)
Turner's left shoulder was wrapped tightly in a brace, protecting what he thought to be a torn labrum that kept causing his shoulder to pop out.
But Turner fought through the injury and won his second straight title.
"I was constantly getting yelled at by Coach to toughen up, toughen up," Turner said. "And I just fought through it."
Champion: Brendin Yatooma, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (39-3)
Fall, 3:16, over Kyle Scott, Hudsonville, Sr. (47-4)
With this weekend's tournament starting at the 285-pound weight class, Yatooma put an exclamation point on an impressive Finals by the Detroit Catholic Central wrestlers.
Yatooma was crowned the seventh champion for the Shamrocks, and he did it in impressive fashion.
"I just went out there and did what I had to do," Yatooma said. "I have to thank my coaches for pushing me so hard. All the timed miles that we ran, all the in-the-holes we did. And in practice, I want to thank my partners, Steven Kolcheff and Easton Turner."
Champion: Steven Kolcheff, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (36-3)
Decision, 4-0, over Mahdi Hazime, Dearborn Fordson, Sr. (47-5)
Kolcheff said he may have left something on the mat when he wrestled for a Finals title last year. The Detroit Catholic Central junior lost a tight decision and knew he could do better.
He showed Saturday he was right, winning his first championship.
"I wasn't working as hard as I could," Kolcheff said. "This year I came back and coaches pushed me as hard as I could (go). They broke me a couple times in the practice room, but that paid off a lot."
PHOTO: Kevon Davenport’s arm is raised after the Detroit Catholic Central senior earned his fourth MHSAA Finals championship Saturday. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Years from now, when girls wrestling is no longer considered “new” but just part of every winter’s Michigan high school sports lineup, Eliana Bommarito must still be remembered among its first legendary MHSAA Finals champions.
The recent Hartland grad’s title at 255 pounds in March was among highlights of the Individual Wrestling Finals at Ford Field, which included a girls division for the first time. The state championship actually was Bommarito’s fourth – she’d also won titles her first three seasons at tournaments conducted by the Michigan Wrestling Association, before the MHSAA provided full sponsorship for a girls division last season for the first time. She's continuing her academic and wrestling careers at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, which has won two straight women’s national championships.
"I’m really glad to have that opportunity to not only have girls wrestling be recognized in Michigan, but to be sanctioned alongside the boys this year, which was amazing.
"It feels like our sport is finally being recognized, and that girls wrestling is growing."
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
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