By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
This weekend’s Division 1 Individual Finals field is arguably the deepest in championship experience in a number of years.
A total of 12 reigning title winners will be back on the mat starting Thursday at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Five more 2016 runners-up also return, including one who won it all in 2015. Walled Lake Central senior Ben Freeman is seeking to become the 22nd in MHSAA history to win Finals titles all four years of high school.
Below is a brief look at all of those returning champions, plus a number of others to watch over the three-day event. Follow all the matches beginning with Thursday's first round on a subscription basis live on MHSAA.tv, and click here for results at MHSAA.com. And come back to Second Half this weekend as we’ll interview all 14 title winners.
112: Benyamin Kamali, Detroit Catholic Central junior (37-3) – Last season’s champion at 103 needed overtime to claim his first title, but he enters this time coming off his team’s championship last weekend and as the top seed with the fewest losses in Division 1 at this weight.
119: Mikey Mars, Westland John Glenn junior (53-3) – Mars is the second seed at this weight coming off championships at 103 as a freshman and 112 last winter; he’s 156-7 during his high school career but coming off a sudden-victory loss at the Team Quarterfinals.
130: Kevon Davenport, Detroit Catholic Central sophomore (33-3) – One of the most highly-regarded freshman last season is now a top sophomore, looking to add a second title after winning last season at 119.
135: Noah Schoenherr, Bay City Western senior (45-3) – He’s made two straight championship matches, winning at 130 pounds last season, and enters as the top seed at a weight he’ll share with his sophomore brother Victor.
140: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central senior (30-0) – As noted above, Freeman is seeking his fourth straight championship with previous wins at 103, 125 and 130, and to finish a third straight perfect season after suffering his only loss as a freshman. He’s signed with Michigan.
145: Cameron Amine, Detroit Catholic Central sophomore (41-3) – Last season’s champion at 125 joins Davenport as another strong sophomore, and enters as the second seed at this weight.
145: Reese Hughes, Hartland senior (37-2) – The reigning champion at 140 is seeded fourth at this weight after leaving his Regional Final against this weekend’s top seed Danny Pfeffer with an injury; Hughes didn’t wrestle in last weekend’s Team Quarterfinal and Semifinal. He will continue next season at Michigan.
152: Nathan Atienza, Livonia Franklin senior (54-1) – The champion at 145 in 2016 is seeking to reach his third straight Final and has lost only one match over the last two seasons; he’s seeded second to Grandville’s Kameron Bush (below) and has signed with Michigan State.
152: Kameron Bush, Grandville senior (36-1) – After claiming last season’s title at 152 with a 7-6 decision, Bush enters as the top seed at this weight and with an 80-3 record over the last two seasons.
171: Tyler Morland, Detroit Catholic Central senior (33-0) – Morland has only one loss over the last two seasons and avenged it in last season’s Final at this weight; he can cap his career with a second straight individual title to go with last weekend’s team win on the way to continuing at Northwestern.
189: Brendan McRill, Davison senior (37-2) – Last season’s champion at this weight enters as only the second seed this time, but seeking a second title and fourth top-five finish before heading to West Virginia.
285: Nicholas Jenkins, Detroit Catholic Central senior (42-1) – If Jenkins was a bit of a surprise last season, he hasn’t been able to hide this winter coming off the 2016 title at this weight and heading to Central Michigan to continue his career.
2016 runners-up: Ann Arbor Pioneer senior Rayvon Foley (119, 50-3, 103 in 2016), Davison junior A.J. Facundo (125, 32-5, 119 in 2016, 112 champ in 2015), Southgate Anderson senior Donte Rivera-Garcia (125, 46-1), Macomb Dakota junior Tyler Sanders (130, 38-3), Westland John Glenn senior John Siemasz (145, 48-6, 135 in 2016).
Also undefeated: Fraser senior Danny Pfeffer (145, 54-0), Portage Northern senior Matthew Heaps (171, 47-0), Flushing junior Ben Cushman (215, 52-0).
No. 1 seeds: Detroit Catholic Central freshman Devon Johnsen (103, 32-10), DCC’s Kamali (112), New Baltimore Anchor Bay’s Jack Medley (119, 51-2), Southgate Anderson’s Rivera-Garcia (125), Brownstown Woodhaven senior Xavier Graham (130, 52-1), Bay City Western’s Noah Schoenherr (135), Walled Lake Central’s Freeman (140), Fraser’s Pfeffer (145), Grandville’s Bush (152), Holt senior Kolin Leyrer (160, 37-2), DCC’s Morland (171), Grandville senior Ryan Vasbinder (189, 18-2), Flushing’s Cushman (215), DCC’s Jenkins (285).
PHOTO: Detroit Catholic Central's Benyamin Kamali (right) prepares to face Hartland's Corey Cavanaugh during a Team Semifinal on Saturday. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Shayna 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
Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.
MHSAA.com's "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at www.michigan.gov/mistudentaid and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.
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.)