D1 Preview: Power-Packed Brackets

February 22, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This weekend’s Division 1 team wrestling field at Kalamazoo’s Wings Event Center is power-packed again, and that might be an understatement.

Detroit Catholic Central is wrestling for its third straight Division 1 title, but four other teams that have won at least one championship over the last 13 seasons also will compete. The eight teams at Friday’s Quarterfinals have a combined 80 Individual Finals qualifiers who will go on to Ford Field next weekend as well.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 1, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 2:15 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and the championship match that afternoon at 3:45 p.m. All matches this weekend will be viewable live on a subscription basis on MHSAA.tv. For Friday’s schedule and results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page.

#1 Detroit Catholic Central

Record/rank: 23-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League
Mitch Hancock, 12th season (270-45)
Championship history: 
Thirteen MHSAA championships (most recent 2018), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Anthony Walker (26-9) fr., 112 Caleb White (19-7) jr., 130 Camden Trupp (35-6) soph., 135 Joshua Edmond (33-2) jr., 140 Marc Shaeffer (18-4) jr., 140 Derek Gilcher (28-2) jr., 145 Logan Sanom (33-3) jr., 145 Kevon Davenport (31-1) sr., 152 Cameron Amine (33-0) sr., 152 Joseph Urso (36-7) sr., 160 Manuel Rojas (24-7) fr., 189 Easton Turner (34-3) sr., 215 Brendin Yatooma (35-3) jr., 285 Steven Kolcheff (32-3) jr.
Outlook: The Shamrocks are seeking their third straight Division 1 title and sixth in eight seasons, and haven’t lost to an in-state opponent in three seasons. DCC hasn’t given up a team point during this MHSAA Tournament, shutting out all four opponents through the District and Regional. Edmond, Gilcher, Davenport and Turner were Individual Finals champions last year with Amine and Kolcheff runners-up and Yatooma, Sanom and Shaeffer placers. Davenport will be seeking his fourth title and Amine his third next weekend at Ford Field.  

#2 Brighton

Record/rank: 31-0, No. 2
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West and overall
Tony Greathouse, sixth season (151-27)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2015, runner-up 2018.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Aiden Smith (33-15) fr., 119 Sam Freeman (43-4) jr., 119 Mason Shrader (29-5) soph., 125 Eddie Homrock (49-2) jr., 135 Zach Johnson (39-6) soph., 140 Rhett Newton (14-2) sr., 152 Victor Grabowski (40-10) sr., 152 Harley Berne (28-8) jr., 160 Dane Donabedian (44-9) jr., 171 River Shettler (46-2) sr., 189 Greyson Stevens (46-4) jr., 215 Luke Stanton (25-1) jr., 285 Colby Ford (40-14) sr.  
Outlook: The Bulldogs enter seeded second for the second straight season. Brighton shut out two postseason opponents and defeated No. 10 Holt in the Regional Final to get back to Kalamazoo, after finishing first in a league that included two more top-five teams in Division 1. Stanton, Shrader, Homrock, Johnson, Donabedian, Grabowski and Shettler all were Finals placers a year ago, Shettler a runner-up. Brighton defeated possible Semifinal opponent Davison by 11 in its season opener.

#3 Davison

Record/rank: 15-2, No. 3
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League
Roy Hall, 21st season (538-97-1)
Championship history: 
Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2006), five runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: Aden Williams (21-4) fr., 112 Owen Payne (25-10) fr., 119 Steven Garty (31-6) sr., 119 Andrew Chambal (34-3) jr., 125 Jaron Wilson (8-1) jr., 140 James Johnston (30-5) soph., 145 Landon Kish (20-16) soph., 152 Brian Case (18-7) sr., 160 Alex Facundo (33-2) soph., 171 Jay Nivison (23-9) jr., 189 Cal Stefanko (28-2) sr., 189 Trevor McGowan (20-8) sr., 215 Jimmy Colley (11-3) fr. 
Outlook: Davison has reached the Semifinals six straight seasons and will wrestle Friday in its eighth straight Quarterfinal. Chambal and Facundo are reigning Finals champions and Stefanko was a runner-up last season, and Garty, Case and Nivison also were placers. Nine upperclassmen bolster a lineup that fell to Detroit Catholic Central by only six points Dec. 21.

#4 Westland John Glenn

Record/rank: 29-5, No. 4
League finish: First in KLAA East
Bill Polk, 21st season (423-124)
Championship history: 
Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Josh Mars (40-13) fr., 112 Ty Cowen (45-12) soph., 125 Caleb Meekins (49-4) sr., 135 Kyle Borthwell (44-4) sr., 145 Brenten Polk (49-5) sr., 160 Graden Bowen (37-16) sr.
Outlook: John Glenn will wrestle in its third straight Quarterfinal and has missed making its first Semifinal the last two seasons by a combined six points. The Rockets edged No. 8 Temperance Bedford by two points in last week’s Regional Final. Meekins and Brenten Polk were Individual Finals placers last season and help lead a lineup with 13 upperclassmen – including eight seniors – expected to start.

#5 Hartland

Record/rank: 29-3, No. 5
League finish: Second in KLAA West
Todd Cheney, 27th season (761-109-2)
Championship history: 
Division 1 champion 2016, five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Patrick Wlodyga (43-9) fr., 119 Wyatt Nault (27-4) jr., 119 Ethan Kinch (31-10) fr., 130 Kyle Kantola (45-0) sr., 135 Corey Cavanaugh (38-4) sr., 135 Bryce Cheney (39-10) soph., 145 Devon Pietila (32-20) sr., 152 Avery Dickerson (41-7) fr., 160 Tanner Culver (37-5) sr., 160 Reece Potter (21-2) sr., 215 Jon Hartman (31-20) sr.  
Outlook: Hartland has moved up two seeds from last season as it prepares for its 18th straight Quarterfinal appearance. After navigating the KLAA, the Eagles didn’t give up more than 16 points in any of four District or Regional matches. Kantola was an Individual Finals runner-up last season, and Nault, Cavanaugh, Culver and Potter all were placers as well.

#6 Rockford

Record/rank: 30-2, unranked
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Brian Richardson, 10th season (210-109)
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), three runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 130 Trenton Wachter (47-1) soph., 135 Evan Kaser (38-11) jr., 140 Connor White (41-5) sr., 145 Jack Richardson (40-4) sr., 160 Noah Anderson (12-1) sr., 171 Cole Gleason (33-9) soph., 189 Tyler Waterstrat (35-5) sr.
Outlook: Rockford is coming off its third straight District title and returning to the Quarterfinals for the first time since finishing Division 1 runner-up in 2010. White and Richardson were both Individual Finals placers a year ago and two of eight senior starters expected to take the mat.

#7 Macomb Dakota

Record/rank: 27-5, No. 6
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red 
Ed Skowneski, seventh season (207-45)
Championship history: 
Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Brendan Ferretti (49-0) soph., 119 Nick Alayan (45-3) sr., 125 Justin Tiburcio (37-3) sr., 125 Bradley Weiand (34-15) jr., 130 Andrew Barrett (37-12) sr., 140 Brandon Alkazir (38-14) sr., 145 David McFadden (25-21) soph., 160 Eli Andary (42-12) sr., 171 Dustin Solomon (49-3) sr.  
Outlook: This will be Dakota’s fourth straight Quarterfinal and sixth in seven seasons under Skowneski. Ten upperclassmen including seven seniors bolster the lineup after the team made the Semifinals a year ago for the second straight season. Alayan will be seeking his first individual championship next weekend after finishing runner-up the last two seasons, and Ferretti, Tiburcio and Solomon also were placers in 2018.

#8 Clarkston

Record/rank: 26-5, No. 7
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Joe Wood, second season (44-15)
Championship history: Class A champion 1991, runner-up 1995.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Cole Wiegers (40-8) sr., 130 Mackenzie Hanselman (36-11) sr., 135 Conor Donahue (38-6) sr., 135 Grady Castle (35-9) soph., 140 Ethan Polick (35-10) sr., 145 Jacob Billette (37-7) sr., 160 Devin Trevino (42-4) sr.
Outlook: Clarkston is competing at the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2007, with a two-point Regional Semifinal win over No. 9 Oxford the key victory of this run. Billette was a Finals placer last season and this winter is one of six seniors holding down the middle weights.

PHOTO: Josh Edmond, here at last season’s Individual Finals, is one of four returning champions leading DCC on its quest for another team title. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

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.)