D1 Preview: Davison Seeks Return to Top

February 20, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Davison is arguably the most storied wrestling program in MHSAA history. And for seven seasons, the Cardinals have looked to add another championship chapter.

This weekend at Kellogg Arena, they are favored to win their first Division 1 title since finishing a string of five consecutive championships in 2006.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 1, listed by seed. Their Quarterfinal matches begin at 3:15 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at 9:30 Saturday morning and the championship match at 4 p.m. All matches this weekend will be streamed live on a subscription basis on MHSAA.TV. For results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page. Rankings below are from MichiganGrappler.com


Record/rank: 23-4, No. 1
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley Association
Coach: Roy Hall, 17th season (426-72-1) 
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2006), two runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Devon Perez (31-11) soph., 112 Max Johnson (35-7) soph., 125 Lincoln Olson (38-1) jr., 130 Derek Humphrey (36-4) sr., 135 Matt Miller (30-7) sr., 140 Justin Oliver (40-1) sr., 145 Dominic Russ (33-8) sr., 152 Thomas Garty (33-3) sr., 152 Brenden McRill (22-11) fr.,171 Jordan Cooks (36-2) sr., 215 Jake Ellis (25-16) jr.
Outlook: Davison just missed the title last season, falling to Detroit Catholic Central 29-26 in the Final. But 11 starters from that match are back this weekend. The starting lineup features five 30-match winners, with five more 20-match winners able to sub in. Cooks was a repeat individual champion last season, while both Olson and Oliver have won multiple titles during their careers and Miller was a runner-up in 2013. Total, six of this weekend’s probable starters placed at last winter’s Individual Finals.


Record/rank: 38-2, No. 3
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association
Coach: Todd Cheney, 22nd season (601-91-2)
Championship history: Four MHSAA runner-up finishes (most recent 2007).
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Sage Castillo (49-7) soph., 130 Nate Hughes (48-7) sr., 135 Austin Eicher (33-1) sr., 145 Jacob Gorial (52-1) jr., 160 Logan Vish (39-15) soph., 285 Josh Charneski (46-8) sr.,
Outlook: Hartland again is contending for its first MHSAA team title, moving up from a third seed a year ago as it makes its 13th straight Quarterfinal appearance. Eicher defeated teammate Gorial in one of last season’s most talked about Individual Finals, at 130, and Gorial is the team wins leader this season. Once again, the path to Battle Creek was a tough one, with No. 4 Brighton and No. 5 Holt among those Hartland downed along the way.


Record/rank: 15-4, No. 2
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic High School League
Coach: Mitch Hancock, seventh season (146-32)
Championship history: Ten MHSAA championships (most recent 2013), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Parker O’Brien (26-17) sr., 119 Trevor Zdebski (20-2) jr., 130 Evan Toth (27-13) sr., 135 Greg Johnson (32-10) sr., 140 Myles Amine (35-6) jr., 145 Malik Amine (27-3) sr., 152 Nick Bennett (36-0) sr., 171 Drew Garcia (34-1) sr., 189 Nick Giese (19-8) jr., 215 James Russell (36-7) sr. 
Outlook: Detroit Catholic Central has won three Division 1 team championships in four seasons, including at the end of the last two, and should be in the hunt again despite the third seed. The Shamrocks’ only losses were to No. 1 Davison, Division 2 No. 1 Lowell and No. 2 St. Johns and Illinois power Oak Park River Forest. Malik Amine and Garcia are reigning individual champions, and Zdebski, Myles Amine and Giese also placed last season.  


Record/rank: 17-1, No. 7
League finish: First in O-K Red
Coach: Bubba Gritter, fourth season (66-26) 
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 1993), three runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Josh Brower (33-9) soph., 135 Collin Tomkins (32-4) sr., 140 Kameron Bush (39-3) fr., 152 Jake Brower (31-8) sr., 160 Sam Greco (30-11) fr., 215 Eppe Saarenheimo (28-13) jr.
Outlook: Grandville returned to the Quarterfinals last season for the first time since Gritter’s senior year of 2003, and returns four seeds higher this weekend. Half of last season’s lineup is back including returning Individual Finals placer Tomkins. He’s one of five seniors; the probable starters for this weekend also include seven underclassmen looking to make this trip a tradition.


Record/rank: 24-4, No. 8
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Paul McDevitt, 17th season (345-140) 
Championship history: MHSAA Division 1 champion 2011, two runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers:
 112 Alex Hrisopoulos (42-7) soph., 160 Noah Kinne (33-18) jr., 171 Wesley Maskill (46-5) sr., 189 Wyatt Harden (16-4) soph., 189 Grant Krause (31-9) sr., 215 Ben Line (39-7) sr., 215 Jamal Pettiford (18-9) sr., 285 Zach Wood (30-5) sr.  
Outlook: Oxford missed the Quarterfinals last season for the first time in six, but returns this weekend after beating No. 10 Clarkston along the way. Hrisopoulos, Maskill and senior Eddie Schlickenmeyer all have won at least 40 matches this season and were Individual Finals placers in 2013. Maskill, Schlickenmeyer, Krause and senior Zab Throne all were in the lineup the last time Oxford wrestled in a championship match, in 2012 against Detroit Catholic Central.


Record/rank: 36-4, unranked
League finish: Second in Kensington Lakes Activities Association
Coach: Quinn Guernsey, sixth season (112-75) 
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Brandon Harris (47-4) jr., 119 Mohamad Youssef (50-3) sr., 140 Jon Conn (44-7) sr., 145 Sofus Nielson (34-10) sr., 160 Joey Shaver (43-9) sr., 171 Hussein Youssef (45-8) jr.
Outlook: Guernsey, who wrestled at Brooklyn Columbia Central and then Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University, has led Plymouth to its first Quarterfinal this winter and an increased win total each of the last three seasons. Plymouth defeated No. 6 Temperance Bedford during this run. Mohamad Youssef was an Individual Finals placer last season.


Record/rank: 25-5, No. 9
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Coach: Ed Skowneski, second season (62-10)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Zack Prater (39-11) soph., 135 Kyle Cendrowski (29-19) sr., 152 Alex Bozinovski (42-7) sr., 160 Jake Johnson (48-1) sr., 171 Joshua Burnham (39-8) sr., 189 Greg Brohl (32-17) sr., 215 Antonio Balabani (38-7) jr. 
Outlook: After making the Quarterfinals last season for the first time, Dakota is back with a lineup of half seniors. Half of the lineup also has at least 30 wins, including returning Finals placers Bozinovski and Johnson. Skowneski was a 2003 individual champion for Clinton Township Chippewa Valley before wrestling at MSU.   


Record/rank: 16-7, unranked
League finish: Fifth in Kensington Lakes Activities Association
Coach: David Chiola, 14th season (231-97) 
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Jeremy Nelson (33-23) soph., 119 Nick Robertson (40-14) jr., 125 Nathan Atienza (50-6) fr., 152 Kenneth Steele (32-19) sr., 152 Nick Frazier (42-7) sr., 160 Jordan Atienza (58-0) sr. 
Outlook: Franklin is in the Quarterfinals for the first time after winning its ninth straight District title. Jordan Atienza is 166-1 over the last two seasons and was an Individual Finals runner-up at 152 last winter. Chiola has won 292 matches total as a coach, with six more seasons at Garden City.

PHOTO: Davison wrestlers participate in the "Grand March" before last season's championship matches at Kellogg Arena. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Lowell Enters Another Elite Group of Champs with 11th-Straight Finals Win

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

February 24, 2024

KALAMAZOO – There’s nothing quite like the roar of a crowd after your team has clinched an MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals title.

That’s true whether it’s for title No. 1, or, in the case of Casey Engle and his Lowell teammates Saturday, for their program’s 11th-straight Division 2 championship.

“It’s unreal,” Engle said. “It’s something I look forward to every year.”

Lowell extended its record run of wrestling team titles by defeating Freeland 49-21 in the Division 2 Final at Wings Events Center.

The Red Arrows joined the Grosse Pointe South (1976-86) and Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (1980-90) girls tennis programs in winning 11 straight Finals titles. Only East Grand Rapids boys swimming & diving, winning 15 straight from 1948-62, and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice boys lacrosse – with 13 straight from 2005-17 – have longer Finals championship streaks in Lower Peninsula or statewide competition.

“I mean, it’s possible (to reach 15),” said sophomore Jarrett Smith, whose pin at 106 pounds clinched the title. “It’s hard to predict that far, four years into the future. We’re losing some key guys, but we graduated 14 last year, five this year, so we’re returning some firepower.”

Lowell is always returning firepower, and it’s consistently adding it, too, giving new waves of Red Arrows the chance to raise a wooden mitten. 

That’s why for coach RJ Boudro, each title remains just as sweet as the last.

“Why would it get old?” said Boudro, who has been in charge for 10 of those titles. “Look at the crowd. When I first walked in here, I looked up, and you see that we have more fans here than anybody else, and that’s what it’s about. Next year will be fun, too. When you can still bring crowds in and you can do it 11 years in a row, there’s more to that than just winning. If it was just about winning, why else would they come? They would probably think it was a foregone conclusion. They love the kids; they love the community.”

One could forgive an outsider for believing it’s a foregone conclusion when Lowell takes the mat for the Division 2 postseason, as it’s won the Final by more than 20 points in each of the past five seasons and in seven of its 11 straight championship victories.

The Falcons’ Elijah Murphy, left, locks up Lowell’s Ari McFarland at 215. So to avoid that feeling creeping into his wrestling room, Boudro makes it clear the Red Arrows’ responsibility isn’t just to win on the mat, but to strive for something bigger.

“We’re not doing it to just win state championships,” Boudro said. “We’re trying to find out who we are, we’re trying to be better men, better women, better coaches. So, it’s not just about winning, it’s about being a better person. Whether I’m a coach or a kid, just trying to find a way to be better. When you’re doing that all the time, you get better, but you feel like you have a purpose. Every single guy on the team feels like they have a purpose, and that’s really important.”

Just 14 wrestlers can step onto the mat in a single dual, and the same number is the max a team can enter into the individual postseason, so accomplishing that can sometimes be as tough as anything else for Lowell wrestlers, and certainly helps motivate them throughout the season – foregone conclusions or not.

“One of our signs up there I saw, it says, ‘Tradition never graduates,’ and it’s true,” Smith said. “We just keep the kids coming. Even our B Team, C Team are competing at the highest level. At the beginning of Districts, we had 17 ranked guys, and you can only send 14. So we have just great partners all around.”

Freeland, meanwhile, was making its first appearance in a Final, after getting to the Quarterfinals for the third time in program history. 

“Outstanding. Outstanding. They’ve been giving their all every match,” Freeland coach Scott VanLuven said. “They’ve been doing it all year. We beat Brighton, we weren’t supposed to. We beat (Bay City) John Glenn in our conference, then we had to beat them again in our District Final when we weren’t supposed to. No one gave us really a chance down here, I think. But they believed, and they did well.”

The Falcons (25-3) still had a shot with three matches to go, trailing 31-21. But Smith put a quick end to that with his pin at 106, and that was followed by a pair of pins from Cole and Carter Cichocki at 113 and 120, respectively.

Of the Arrows’ nine wins in the dual, eight came by either pin or technical fall, as Jackson Blum (138), Jared Boone (165) and Engle (190) also won by pinfall. Logan Dawson (132) and Owen Segorski (144) each won by tech. Cody Foss (126) opened the dual with a win by decision for Lowell (22-3).

Fabian Facundo (150) and Bringham Smith (285) each won by pin for Freeland, while Noah Graham (157), Gibson Shepard (175) and Elijah Murphy (215) all won by decision.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Lowell’s Cole Cichocki, left, lines up against Freeland’s Michael Wilson at 113 pounds Saturday. (Middle) The Falcons’ Elijah Murphy, left, locks up Lowell’s Ari McFarland at 215. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)