By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Three wrestling teams in MHSAA history have won five straight Finals championships.
This weekend, Lowell will attempt to become the first to push its winning streak to six.
There are plenty of upset-minded opponents in the way, however, at Kalamazoo’s Wings Event Center. Five of this weekend’s eight quarterfinalists are seeking their first team title in this sport – with last season’s runner-up Gaylord among the hopefuls.
Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 2, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 6:45 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at noon 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.
Record/rank: 19-3, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Coach: R.J. Boudro, fifth season (105-14)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2018), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Ramsy Mutschler (25-8) fr., 112 Nicholas Korhorn (22-8) jr., 125 Zeth Strejc (28-6) soph., 130 Dawson Jankowski (28-6) jr., 135 Jeff Leach (22-9) sr., 135 William Link (36-6) fr., 140 Avry Mutschler (30-2) sr., 145 Doak Dean (34-4) soph., 145 James Fotis (14-3) jr., 152 Austin Boone (26-4) jr., 160 Jacob Lee (27-12) soph., 171 Derek Mohr (20-13) soph., 285 Tyler Deloof (31-5) jr.
Outlook: As noted above, Lowell has a chance to make more history, and has given up just 21 points over four District and Regional matches on the way back to Kalamazoo. Boone is a two-time Individual Finals champion, and Korhorn and Mutschler were runners-up last season. Jankowski, Strejc, Dean, Fotis and Deloof also were placers, and the Red Arrows still will have only three expected senior starters this weekend.
Record/rank: 30-5, No. 3
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference
Coach: Kenneth Sirignano, 10th season (record N/A)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 2009), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Cameron Macklem (40-10) fr., 125 Carson Richards (41-9) fr., 125 Caleb Teague (39-7) sr., 140 Dominic Edwards (32-5) sr., 160 Juwan Vines (30-6) jr., 171 James Penfold (40-3) sr., 215 Honour Kline (46-1) sr.
Outlook: Goodrich is back at the Quarterfinals for the third time in Division 2 in four seasons, and jumped up four seeds from last year. A crew of talented freshman has joined an otherwise upperclassmen-filled lineup that includes seven seniors. Teague was a Finals runner-up last season, while Vines, Kline and senior Blake Coffell also were placers.
Record/rank: 16-5, No. 4
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue
Coach: Brian Byars, 19th season (449-196)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Matt Foddrill (26-14) jr., 145 Tyler Brandt (32-12) jr., 152 Quenten Hall (29-4) sr., 171 Jacob Brandt (33-11) jr., 189 Chandler Murton (31-7) soph.
Outlook: DeWitt is back at the Quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons and second time ever, seeking to advance to Saturday for the first time. The Panthers made it to Kalamazoo with a 30-20 Regional Final victory over No. 2 Eaton Rapids after winning a league that included Division 1 No. 10 Holt and formerly-ranked Grand Ledge. Brandt, Hall and Murton were all Finals placers last season.
Record/rank: 27-1, No. 5
League finish: First in Big North Conference
Coach: Jerry LaJoie, 25th season (696-134-2)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2018.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Gabe Thompson (33-14) fr., 119 Will Sides (31-14) jr., 125 Chayse LaJoie (44-0) jr., 130 John Sosa (33-9) jr., 160 Jacob McKnight (37-4) jr., 171 Quinn Schultz (11-4) soph., 189 Cade Foster (21-6) sr., 215 Aurilius Krumholz (37-10) jr.
Outlook: Gaylord emerged as a third seed last season to make an MHSAA championship match for the first time, and the Blue Devils are seeded to return to at least the Semifinals after edging No. 9 St. Johns 36-33 in the Regional Final to reach Kalamazoo. Chayse LaJoie is a two-time individual champion, and McKnight and Foster also were Finals placers in 2018.
Record/rank: 28-5, No. 8
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference White
Coach: A.J. Marry, fourth season (90-34)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Joshua Hilton (46-2) sr., 119 Vincent Perez (48-0) sr., 125 Kellen Patton (45-2) sr., 130 Victor Coscarelli (33-14) jr., 135 Lucas Petty (19-21), jr., 189 Clayton Boatright (40-10) sr.
Outlook: Make it eight Quarterfinals in nine seasons for Tecumseh, which moved up three seeds from the eighth spot a year ago. The Indians have one of the most veteran lineups in Kalamazoo this weekend in any division, with all seniors and juniors expected to jump on the mat Friday. Eight starters are back from the team that faced Lowell in last season’s Quarterfinal. Perez was a Finals runner-up in 2018.
#6 Warren Woods-Tower
Record/rank: 20-6, No. 6
League finish: Third in Macomb Area Conference Red
Co-coaches: Greg Mayer and Russell Correll, 19th seasons (372-244)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2017.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Josh Howey (31-10) fr., 119 Joe Haynes (30-7) soph., 125 Chaise Mayer (39-3) sr., 160 Omari Embree (33-4) fr., 215 CJ Sheir (35-11) sr., 285 Joel Radvansky (39-4) sr.
Outlook: Tower reached the Semifinals last season after finishing runner-up in 2017, and the Titans are looking to make another run after emerging from a MAC Red that included Division 1 contender Macomb Dakota. Radvansky was a Finals runner-up last season, while Chaise Mayer was a runner-up in both 2016 and 2017 and took third at his weight a year ago. Haynes, sophomore Dru Wilson and senior David Stepanian also were placers in 2018.
Record/rank: 22-4, No. 7
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Coach: Todd Hesson, 12th season (257-86)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Jamison Zimmerman (33-6) jr., 130 Bryce Brust (18-3) sr., 135 Javond Ball (33-8) jr., 140 Kade Wagley (36-8) jr., 152 Robert Buckland (34-11) sr., 160 Cole Simpson (33-11) sr., 171 Cade Best (33-7) sr., 285 Brian Soto (30-4) sr.
Outlook: Niles fell short of the Quarterfinals a year ago but has advanced for the fifth time in seven seasons. Eight seniors anchor the lineup, six holding down the weights from 152-285. Zimmerman took fifth last season at 103 and is one of eight on the team with at least 29 wins.
#8 Cedar Springs
Record/rank: 20-9, unranked
League finish: Second in O-K White
Coach: Nicholas Emery, seventh season (131-84)
Championship history: Class B champion 1995, runner-up 1978.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Trevor Marsman (37-9) soph., 135 Aaron Smith (38-11) sr., 145 Lucas Pienton (34-3) sr., 171 Ryan Ringler (43-0) sr., 189 Sage Serbenta (41-1) jr.
Outlook: A 37-36 win over No. 10 Allendale in the Regional Final vaulted Cedar Springs to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1996. The Red Hawks will be plenty familiar with Friday’s opponent; Lowell is from the same league. Ringler is the reigning individual champion at 171, and Pienton and Serbenta also were Finals placers last season.
PHOTO: Gaylord’s Rico Brown (top), here competing at Grand Ledge this winter, will try to help his team win its first MHSAA wrestling title. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Years from now, when girls wrestling is no longer considered “new” but just part of every winter’s Michigan high school sports lineup, Eliana Bommarito must still be remembered among its first legendary MHSAA Finals champions.
The recent Hartland grad’s title at 255 pounds in March was among highlights of the Individual Wrestling Finals at Ford Field, which included a girls division for the first time. The state championship actually was Bommarito’s fourth – she’d also won titles her first three seasons at tournaments conducted by the Michigan Wrestling Association, before the MHSAA provided full sponsorship for a girls division last season for the first time. She's continuing her academic and wrestling careers at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, which has won two straight women’s national championships.
"I’m really glad to have that opportunity to not only have girls wrestling be recognized in Michigan, but to be sanctioned alongside the boys this year, which was amazing.
"It feels like our sport is finally being recognized, and that girls wrestling is growing."
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
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