D2 Preview: The Champs are Here

March 4, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Eight wrestlers who have won a combined 12 MHSAA individual championships will take the mat during this weekend’s Individual Finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Among the many finishing high school careers are two hoping to do so with third high school titles – Clio’s Mason Smith and St. Johns’ Logan Massa.

See below for 10 contenders to watch this weekend, plus others who enter the tournament undefeated or coming off runner-up finishes in 2014. 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.

Those listed below are only a handful of the numerous contenders for this weekend’s Division 2 championships. Come back to Second Half at the end of this weekend, when we’ll have post-match thoughts from all 14 title winners.

112: Dominic LaJoie, Gaylord sophomore (33-2) – LaJoie is 83-2 over his first two seasons after winning the championship at 103 last season, and he helped his team to the MHSAA Semifinals last weekend in Battle Creek.

119: Lucas Hall, Lowell junior (35-1) – Although his undefeated streak came to an end – Hall was perfect in winning 112 last winter – he’s 112-8 over three seasons and that lone 2013-14 loss came to two-time Division 3 champ Devin Schroder of Grand Rapids Catholic Central.

135: Mason Smith, Clio senior (44-0) – Smith hasn’t lost since his freshman season, claiming titles at 112 and 119 pounds and building a career record of 203-6; he also finished fourth at 103 as a freshman.

140: Austin Thompson, Marysville senior (46-1) – This weight class is loaded and Thompson might be the favorite after winning 130 last season; his only loss this winter came to GRCC two-time champ Nate Limmex.  

140: Austin Melton, DeWitt junior (38-4) – He’s another reigning champion wrestling this weekend at 140, having claimed the title at 135 last season after also making the MHSAA Finals at that weight as a freshman.

140: Noah Hanau, Stevensville Lakeshore senior (49-0, 140) – The lone undefeated wrestler at 140 has qualified for four MHSAA Finals and placed fourth at 130 pounds as a sophomore before finishing just outside the top eight last season at 135.

152: Connor Myers, St. Joseph senior (26-0) – The Bears’ standout has been building toward this final run with third-place finishes at this weight both of the last two seasons.

160: Logan Ritchie, New Boston Huron senior (54-1) – This is Ritchie’s third season at this weight; he finished fourth as a sophomore before winning the title last year, and also finished sixth at 145 as a freshman.

171: Logan Massa, St. Johns senior (33-0) – Only an overtime Finals loss to Ada Forest Hills Eastern standout Tim Lambert in 2012 is keeping Massa from wrestling for a fourth title this weekend – he won at 135 as a sophomore and 152 as a junior and hasn’t lost since his first season.

215: Josh Colegrove, Lowell senior (36-0) – The reigning champion at this weight has only one loss over the last two seasons and also finished third at this weight as a freshman.

Other 2014 runners-up: Ortonville-Brandon junior Bryan LaVearn (125, 40-2, 112 in 2014), Flint Kearsley senior Jakob Chapman (119, 44-3, 119 in 2014), Eaton Rapids senior Jaeden Sklapsky (135, 52-2, 130 in 2014).

Also undefeated: Stevensville Lakeshore freshman Austin Franco (46-0, 112), Farmington Hills Harrison senior Michael Volyanyuk (42-0, 119), Hastings senior Jason Slaughter (49-0, 152), Warren Lincoln sophomore Jelani Embree (41-0, 171), Dearborn Heights Annapolis senior Diallo Matsimela (50-0, 189).

More of note: Ionia sophomore Cameron Mahlich (35-2, 103), St. Johns junior Ian Parker (35-2, 125), Lowell junior Zeth Dean (34-3, 130), Riverview junior Brandon Garcia (52-3, 145), St. Johns senior Ty Wildmo (36-3, 189), Greenville senior Cole Antcliff (45-1, 285).

PHOTO: Clio’s Mason Smith grapples toward his second MHSAA championship at last season’s Individual Finals. (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.)