Belleville Twins March to Finals Together

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

March 2, 2016

BELLEVILLE – Caleb Brown continues to be haunted by what he considers a grim disappointment in his Belleville wrestling career.

Last season, Brown lost during what those in the wrestling fraternity call the “blood round.” This is the consolation round, a match for fourth place, at the Individual Wrestling Regionals. Brown lost by one point in the 152-pound weight class to an opponent he had defeated earlier in the season and, thus, missed qualifying for the MHSAA Finals.

He was devastated but not consumed by it. For one, that was his junior season. Brown rededicated himself during the offseason. He continued to run cross country to keep his weight down and also increase his endurance.

This season Brown broke through barriers, claiming the Wayne County and Division 1 Regional championships at 152.

As proud as he is of reaching this point, it’s made even more special by the fact that he’ll enter The Palace of Auburn Hills on Thursday with his twin brother Chris. Chris Brown competes at 130. Last season he qualified for the MHSAA Finals at 119 and won a first-round match before losing his next.

“It’s really cool,” Caleb said. “I missed out last year. Being a senior, it’s cool.

“(Winning the regional) didn’t hit me right away. I was just talking about it with my teammates, and that’s when it hit me. I was really focused on winning the match.”

Caleb is 44-4 this season and will face Kyle Minor of Roseville in Thursday’s first round.

Chris is 47-2 and will go against Lee Grabowski of Brighton.

The Browns say having a twin who competes in the same sports is an advantage, if for no other reason than it enhances one’s competitive nature.

They both started wrestling in middle school by chance.

“We played football in the beginning,” Chris said. “The coach told us to wrestle to keep in shape. I was terrible in the beginning. But we’ve never been known as quitters. I like the individualism. You can’t use the excuse your team lost it for you.”

Once they entered high school, the Browns gravitated even more toward the sport. But it wasn’t until their sophomore season that they became proficient at it.

For Chris, there was one match that showed he could compete against the best.

“My sophomore year was my first on varsity,” he said. “I went against a ranked opponent, and I won by a point. That was huge for my confidence.”

Coinciding with the Browns’ rise was the return of Derek Phillips as coach. Phillips started coaching in 1994 and stayed 11 seasons before taking time off to help raise two children. He remained within the school district as a teacher, but the time commitment of teaching and coaching together was not conducive to spending quality time with his sons.

In 2013, Phillips returned. He has been a mentor for the Browns and a third senior MHSAA Finals qualifier, David Tooley (215).

Phillips was the one who encouraged the Browns to compete in cross country.

“It goes hand in hand,” Phillips said of the two sports. “I love it. They come into the wrestling season in shape. All three have over 100 wins and all three are good students. They’re a coach’s dream.”

Tooley is a little different. It’s not because he plays football instead of competing in cross country. And it’s not because he’s a three-sport athlete (also plays baseball). It’s his warm-up routine that causes many to take a second look, scratch their heads or both.

It’s more than a routine. It’s a dance. Sort of. He got the idea from watching a wrestler from Southgate Anderson who competed against his brother, Mark Tooley, when the elder Tooley wrestled for Belleville in 2011.

“It’s like no other,” David Tooley said. “It’s an active movement. It’s like a dance, and it’s a little embarrassing.”

Whatever works.

The Browns’ warmup routines are a little less flamboyant, but they do get a kick out of watching their teammate go through his routine. Chris likes to listen to music just before his matches. Caleb prefers listening to his coach, receiving last-minute instructions.

Away from the mat, the Browns are constantly challenging each other. Take running, for example.

“We try to one-up each other,” Chris said. “We’ve always been competitive. I’m faster than he is, when we run cross country. We’re not too far apart though.”

Caleb judges a person’s speed all together differently.

“He might beat me in cross country,” he said. “But if it’s a true test of speed, I’m faster.”

Tom Markowski is a columnist and directs website coverage for the State Champs! Sports Network. He previously covered primarily high school sports for the The Detroit News from 1984-2014, focusing on the Detroit area and contributing to statewide coverage of football and basketball. Contact him at tmarkowski@statechampsnetwork.com with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Chris Brown works to gain control during one of his Division 1 Regional matches Feb. 20. (Middle) Caleb Brown, Chris Brown, David Tooley.(Below) Caleb Brown works an opponent toward a potential pin during one of his Regional matches. (Top and below photos by Douglas Chapman.)

Performance of the Week: Iron Mountain's Shayna Hruska

January 27, 2023

Shayna HruskaShayna Hruska ♦ Iron Mountain
Junior ♦ Wrestling

With an 8-2 decision win in the 106-pound final Saturday, Hruska became the first female champion at the annual Upper Peninsula Championships, and she then was selected the event’s “Outstanding Wrestler” for going 3-0 also with pins in her first two matches of the tournament. Those victories improved her record to 18-6 this season.

Hruska began wrestling in third grade and finished fourth at 97 pounds as a freshman at the 2021 Michigan Wrestling Association Girls Championships. She then finished second at her District to reach Regionals competing in the bracket with the boys last season. She entered last week’s U.P. Championships title coming off a runner-up finish at the Escanaba Elks Invitational on Jan. 7 and the championship at 106 at Kingsford’s Ray Mariucci Wrestling Invitational on Jan. 14.

@mhsaasports 🤼‍♀️POW: Shayna Hruska #performanceoftheweek #wrestling #upchampionship #outstandingwrestler #congrats #meetchamp #uppower #mountaineers #ironmountain #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok#mistudentaid #fyp @shaynahruska ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat

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2022-23 Honorees

Jan. 19: Kayla Tafanelli, Warren Woods-Tower bowling - Report
Dec. 20:
Brenden Paden, Riverview Gabriel Richard hockey - Report
Dec. 16:
Tuff Scott, Holton bowling - Report
Dec. 9:
Macey Fegan, Standish-Sterling basketball - Report
Dec. 2:
Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24:
Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
Nov. 17:
Navea Gauthier, Shelby volleyball - Report
Nov. 10:
Derek Huisman, Holland Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Thomas Westphal, New Baltimore Anchor Bay cross country - Report
Oct. 27:
Justin Wickey, Colon football - Report
Oct. 20:
Owen DeMuth, Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood tennis - Report
Oct. 13:
Mia Melendez, Ann Arbor Greenhills golf - Report
Oct. 6:
Shawn Foster, Grand Ledge football - Report
Sept. 30:
Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22:
Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15:
Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8:
Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1:
Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25:
Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report

(Photos courtesy of the Iron Mountain High School athletic department.)