D2 Preview: Contenders Line Up as Lowell Hopes to Run Streak to 9

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 24, 2022

Two other contenders are undefeated this season. Two more are past MHSAA Finals champions.

But until defeated, Lowell will be the team leading the Division 2 title chase – in this weekend’s case, with the hope of adding to its record eight-season Finals championship streak.

That quest begins with Friday’s 6:45 p.m. Quarterfinals at Kalamazoo’s Wings Event Center – see matchups below. Semifinals will start at noon Saturday, with the championship match later that day at 3:45 p.m.

#1 Lowell (20-3) vs. #8 Birmingham Brother Rice (19-5)
#4 Gaylord (27-0) vs. #5 Monroe Jefferson (18-3)
#3 Goodrich (29-2) vs. #6 Mason (32-3)
#2 Whitehall (26-0) vs. #7 St. Joseph (23-8)

Tickets for Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals will be sold by the Wings Event Center box office. All matches for all three rounds also will be viewable on MHSAA.tv with subscription.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 2, listed by seed. (Girls Finals qualifiers are noted with “G” with weight class, as those classes differ from the other Individual Finals brackets.)

20-3, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Coach: R.J. Boudro, eighth season (159-24)
Championship history: Eleven MHSAA championships (most recent 2021), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Carter Cichocki (28-3) fr., 103 Landon Musgrave (20-5) fr., 112 Jackson Blum (31-3) fr., 119 Easton Lyons (18-15) jr., 125 Owen Segorski (22-11) fr., 130 Ramsy Mutschler (26-5) sr., 135 James Link (32-5) sr., 140 Landon Miller (24-7) jr., 140 Jared Boone (25-9) soph., 145 Nate Cleaver (28-11) sr., 152 Tacho Gonzales (18-13) soph., Carson Crace (21-9) jr., 215 Carter Blough (31-2) sr., 285 Bryson Vandermeulen (23-13) sr.
Outlook: The Lowell championship machine keeps churning even after graduating four individual champs from last year’s team title winner. Crace is the reigning runner-up at 160 (after losing to graduated teammate Doak Dean in his 2021 title match), with Blough, Mutschler, Miller, Gonzales and Link also returning Individual Finals placers. The Red Arrows own wins over the other three 2021 team champions – Davison, Dundee and Clinton – plus victories over Grandville and Rockford, among others, and with their losses only to Detroit Catholic Central and two out-of-state powers.

26-0, No. 2
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference
Co-coaches: Justin Zeerip and Collin Zeerip, fourth seasons (100-7)
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2021, Class C runner-up 1984.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 130 Riley Buys (34-10) sr., 145 Max Brown (37-5) sr., 152 Alec Pruett (36-10) sr., 160 Wyatt Jenkins (37-8) fr., 171 Nicholas Blanchard (43-2) sr., 215 Shane Cook (43-2) jr., 285 Ira Jenkins (45-0) sr.
Outlook: For the second season in a row, Whitehall is entering Finals weekend as a second seed, and last year’s run to the Division 3 Final was its fourth making at least the Semifinals over the last six seasons. Jenkins hasn’t lost a match since his sophomore season and won the Division 3 title at 215 last winter, and Brown was last season’s D3 title winner at 140. Blanchard and Pruett also are returning individual placers; those four are among eight seniors in the starting lineup.

29-2, No. 3
League finish: First in Flint Metro League
Coach: Kenneth Sirignano, 12th season (record N/A)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 2009), four runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Jaden Davis (27-2) fr., 119 Brody Orcutt (33-9) soph., 125 Ryan Angelo (35-6) sr., 125 Heremias Cheff (17-6) jr., 140 Carsen Richards (39-2) sr., 152 Max Macklem (27-9) fr., 160 Easton Phipps (25-6) soph., 171 Cameron Macklem (39-3) sr., 215 James Mahon (33-10) fr.; 115-G Kendra Vickory (7-6) soph., 125-G Ryen Allen (3-0) soph.
Outlook: Goodrich is another regular at Finals weekend, making the trip for the fifth time in seven seasons, and the Martians have finished Division 2 runners-up two of the last three years. This team has only three senior starters and nine underclassmen in the lineup, but the group is plenty accomplished already. Nine starters are back from last season’s championship match, with six repeat Individual Finals qualifiers.

27-0, No. 4
League finish: First in Big North Conference
Coach: Jerry LaJoie, 28th season (775-136-2)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2020 and 2018.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 130 Louden Stradling (19-0) jr., 135 Gabe Thompson (31-2) sr., 140 Gus James (36-8) jr., 160 Ty Bensinger (38-3) soph., 171 Brayden Gautreau (37-1) jr., 189 Riley Hush (32-5) soph.; 105-G Sunni LaFond (29-8) fr., 120-G Hanna Blyveis (14-1) fr.
Outlook: Few programs can match Gaylord’s record over the last many seasons – the Blue Devils are 106-3 over the last four and a combined 282-10 over the last nine. They also are seeking to make the Semifinals for the sixth time over the last eight seasons. Gaylord edged No. 10 Bay City John Glenn 34-29 in the Regional Final to secure this trip.

18-3, No. 6
League finish: First in Huron League
Coach: Mike Humphrey, 19th season (368-158)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Issac Masserant (25-6) soph., 130 Dylan Garcia (32-6) sr., 135 Caleb Smiley (26-10) sr., 140 Noah White (29-11) sr., 145 Carter Simota (18-10) soph., 189 Anthony Cousino (20-17) soph., 215 Nathan Masserant (36-5) jr.
Outlook: After returning to the Quarterfinals last season for the first time since 1995, Jefferson is making a repeat trip and has been considered among the top 10 teams in Division 2 all season. Senior Cody Richards (28-6 at 103) was last season’s runner-up at that weight, and Garcia and junior Seth Minney (31-7 at 160) were both individual placers as well.

32-3, No. 7
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Red
Coach: Brian Martel, 19th season (544-113)
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2006), one runner-up finish.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Matt Ausel (43-2) fr., 125 Tayden Miller (32-0) jr., 171 Derek Badgley (45-2) soph., 189 Landon Peiffer (29-6) sr., 285 David Fancher (40-8) sr.  
Outlook: Mason is headed back to Finals weekend for the second time in three seasons and with its most team wins since 2013-14. The Bulldogs also have been considered among the division’s top 10 all season, with Badgley, Miller and sophomore AJ Martel (27-1 at 160) all returning Finals placers.

23-8, No. 9
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Taylor Misel, seventh season (83-97)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Marcus Lowry (30-17) fr., 112 Noah Dahlke (33-14) fr., 119 Nolan Wertanen (46-0) sr.; 125 Landon Thomas (48-6) fr., 130 Jack Sherman (43-10) sr., 171 Jacob Halsey (46-1) sr., 189 Matthew Morris (36-12) sr., 130-G Maya Milletics (10-7) fr.
Outlook: The Bears are making their first trip to Finals weekend, with the key victory 35-34 over No. 5 Stevensville Lakeshore in the District Final. Eight senior starters are leading the charge, with Wertanen the reigning champion at 112 and Halsey last season’s runner-up at 152.

19-5, unranked
League finish: Seventh in Detroit Catholic League
Coach: Scott Kolesky, third season (41-25)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Jace Morgan (46-6) fr., 119 Ricardo Saenz (46-0) fr., 125 Luke Nelson (36-13) jr., 152 Brennan Parent (37-11) jr.
Outlook: Brother Rice has earned its second trip to Finals weekend and first since 1988, winning all four of its postseason matches so far by at least 45 points. Kolesky formerly was the head coach at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley and Troy Athens and has a 293-210 record over 17 seasons total. This team has taken major strides after going 6-11 a year ago, and nearly half the roster is freshmen – with five of the team’s eight starting.

PHOTO Lowell celebrates a match win during last season’s Division 2 Final. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

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.)