D3 Preview: 2 More Seek Induction Into 4-Time Champs Club

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 3, 2022

No matches draw in more of the Ford Field wrestling crowd than those featuring potential four-time MHSAA Finals champs. And spectators will have multiple opportunities to watch history this weekend in Division 3.

Clinton’s Logan Badge and Dundee’s Casey Swiderski are seeking to become the next four-time title winners, joining a list that has grown to 30 since Mount Pleasant’s Mike Mills became the first in 1979.

With the starting weight 189 pounds, Badge – whose team wrestled in Division 4 his first three seasons before moving into Division 3 this winter – could have a chance to celebrate in the first match of the final round Saturday afternoon.  

The Grand March on Friday begins at 10 a.m., with wrestling through semifinals that evening. Wrestling begins again at 9 a.m. Saturday with championship matches at 3:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at Ford Field. All matches will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv, and we’ll talk to all 14 champions in each division for our Second Half coverage published later that evening and overnight. See the MHSAA Wrestling Finals page for more information and to follow results this weekend.

112 Connor Younts, Clinton sophomore (40-7) – Last year’s 103-pound champ in Division 4 won a Regional championship two weeks ago and could run into the top seed in this bracket in the semifinals.

119 Braeden Davis, Dundee junior (37-2) – He’s looking to add a third Finals championship after winning 112 as a sophomore and 103 as a freshman.

130 Kade Chinavare, Dundee junior (32-3) – Last year’s winner at 119 gives this bracket two 2021 champs set up to potentially decide the title. Chinavare also finished third at 112 as a freshman.

130 Zachary Gibson, Lake Odessa Lakewood senior (35-0) – The top seed at this weight won at 125 last year and is a combined 88-1 over the last two. He’s also earned fifth places at 112 and 103 and has a 179-15 career record.

140 Ryker Johnecheck, Williamston senior (34-2) – He’s looking to follow up last year’s undefeated run to the 130 title with his third championship after also winning 125 as a sophomore.

145 Aiden Davis, Dundee junior (39-0) – The top seed at 145 is wrestling for his second title after winning 135 last year and finishing the 125 runner-up as a freshman.

152 Casey Swiderski, Dundee senior (41-0) – His past championships were at 145 last year, 135 in 2020 and 103 in 2019, and he’s bringing a career record of 154-3 into the weekend.

160 Connor Owens, Flint Powers Catholic junior (14-0) – After losing by decision in last season’s 160 championship match, he’s back as the top seed and with that his only defeat since his freshman season when he finished fourth at 140.

189 Logan Badge, Clinton senior (33-5) – He’s seeking his third title at 189 after winning that weight in Division 4 the last two seasons and 215 in Division 4 as a freshman. He'll also no doubt be eager to get back on the mat coming off a rare defeat, to Alma's Jacob Munger during last weekend's Team Semifinals.

285 Levi Harber, Montrose senior (40-4) – The top seed at this weight is returning after finishing runner-up last season, to go with a third place at 215 as a sophomore.

Other 2021 champions: 112 Kade Kluce, Dundee sophomore (37-6, 103 last year); 135 Coy Perry, Clinton sophomore (44-8, 112 in Division 4 last year).

Other 2021 runners-up: 103 Talan Parsons, Ovid-Elsie sophomore (33-1, 103 last year); 119 Gavyn Merchant, Kingsley sophomore (33-3, 112 last year); 119 Connor Busz, Clinton junior (45-2, 112 in Division 4 last year); 125 Zak Shadley, Clinton junior (39-10, 119 in Division 4 last year); 135 Caeleb Ishmael, Coloma senior (43-3, 125 last year); 160 Kent McCombs, Clinton senior (30-2, 145 in Division 4 last year); 171 Randy Pyrzewski, Gladwin senior (46-2, 171 last year).

Additional No. 1 seeds: 112 Easton Moran, Yale senior (48-2); 125 Cameron Chinavare, Dundee sophomore (35-2); 135 Aidan Bernard, Montrose senior (42-1); 171 Randy Pyrzewski, Gladwin senior (46-2); 215 Hunter Huguelet, Gladwin senior (40-1).

Also undefeated: 145 Cody Ueberroth, Saginaw Swan Valley junior (43-0); 160 Nick Marienfeld, Napoleon senior (51-0).

PHOTO Dundee's Casey Swiderski gains control of his opponent during Saturday's Team Semifinal win over Imlay City. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

After All-American Career, Rockford's Bennett Making Impact as Mat Mentor

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

July 25, 2023

ROCKFORD – Ben Bennett knew from an early age what he wanted his career path to be.

Made in Michigan is powered by Michigan Army National Guard.“I always wanted to coach,” the former Rockford High School wrestling standout said. “I think I have wanted to coach since I was in middle school. I wanted to be a college wrestling coach.”

Bennett, 33, is currently living out his dreams of becoming a collegiate coach as a member of the Central Michigan University wrestling program.

Bennett, one of the most decorated wrestlers in CMU history, is in his 10th season on 32-year coach Tom Borrelli’s staff.

“I was getting ready to graduate, and a position opened up,” Bennett said. “I think Coach Borrelli knew that I really wanted to stay involved in wrestling and get into coaching. I was fortunate enough to slide into that position, and he had enough faith in me to let me stay here.”

Before getting the opportunity to coach, Bennett amassed eight years of unbridled success at the high school and collegiate levels.

He was a three-time Individual Finals champion at Rockford and helped lead the Rams to a Division 1 team championship as a junior.

“I had a really good high school experience, and I really enjoyed wrestling for our head coach at the time, Don Rinehart,” Bennett said. “He coached for a long time, and we always had some very competitive teams.

“In 2007, my junior year, we won the team state duals, but every year we were really competitive and had multiple individual state champions. Those were the type of teams I was able to wrestle on, which made it pretty exciting and pretty fun when you have those types of guys around you.”

After excelling through the junior ranks, Bennett made an immediate impact for the Rams and captured the Division 1 championship at 140 pounds as a freshman.

However, the following year, he took third at 152 after losing a semifinal match 2-1.

That defeat was humbling for Bennett but also showed him how to handle adversity.

“At the time, in my eyes, the world was ending,” Bennett said. “You look back and it probably was more of a positive. It's good to have those things happen to you, and you face some adversity.

“And I think that's more relatable to life rather than just when you win all the time. I did a lot of winning, but when things are really important, sometimes it's good to fail, for things not to go your way because it will probably happen for the rest of your life.

“You have to learn how to respond and come back from that and handle it the right way and just get back to work. At the time, I remember how devastated I was, but looking back it probably was a positive thing long term.”

Bennett wound up collecting two more Individual Finals titles, at 160 and 171 pounds, to end his high school career and then was named Mr. Wrestler, receiving the award given to the top senior wrestler by the state coaches association.

“I wasn't even thinking that I might get that,” he said. “There are so many great high school wrestlers that come out every year, and thinking about the guys I wrestled … to be singled out as the one chosen for that award was pretty special.”

After graduation, Bennett took his talents to Mount Pleasant. He could’ve gone anywhere to wrestle, but found the right fit at CMU.

“I knew I wanted to wrestle in college, and it was close to home, which I liked,” Bennett said. “I didn't feel like I had to go across the country to have an opportunity to accomplish my goals. I felt like I could stay here and do that.”

Bennett is the only four-time All-American in CMU history and one of three Chippewas to have earned four individual Mid-American Conference titles.

Bennett twice earned the Chick Sherwood Award as CMU’s most valuable wrestler and was named the MAC Wrestler of the Year in 2012. He also had earned the MAC Freshman of the Year Award in 2010.

Bennett ranks sixth in CMU history with 121 career victories, and his career win percentage of .834 is fourth all-time. In 2013, he finished 31-2 for a .939 win percentage, the second-best in program history. He also won a school-record 30 consecutive matches during that season and finished a personal-best fourth at the national tournament.

Bennett wrestles Clarkston’s Adam Lauzun for the Division 1 title at 171 pounds that season.“At the time I was disappointed with how my career went, because I was never a national champion,” Bennett said. “But I think looking back on it, I have a lot more appreciation for what I did.

“As a coach, I realize how hard it is to have success at the college level, and every year you see great wrestlers not make the podium. Sometimes I’m shocked when certain guys don’t place, and it makes me appreciate how hard it is to be a four-time All-American, let alone place one time or multiple times.”

The transition to the coaching side was a difficult process for Bennett, but he knew he wanted to mentor other wrestlers the way his former coaches did with him.

“You put so much into the sport and you realize how much time other people invested and how important it was for me to do well, and so I guess for me it was a hard transition to make,” Bennett said. “You’re so competitive and so focused on yourself, but then being able to help these guys improve, get better and hopefully accomplish their goals was something I was looking forward to doing.

“I had so many people help me do that, and then I was able to be in their shoes and give back to these guys.”

Coaching has kept him involved in a sport he loves.

“And I get to continue to learn and grow and develop in different areas, not just wrestling-wise,” he said. “I get to meet a lot of great people through wrestling and coaching. The guys who come through our program are pretty awesome people.

“I’m pretty fortunate, and I've really enjoyed the coaching side of it, being in the wrestling room with these guys. Getting them ready for a match and going over things after a match. There is a lot that goes into it, but I really enjoy it.”

The love of wrestling for Bennett began at 6 years old, when he was coached by his uncle Tom Bennett – a former Division III All-American – and dad Doug.

“My uncle did a ton for me wrestling-wise, and my dad was the conditioning and discipline-type guy,” Bennett said. “Together it was a good mix. For as long as I can remember, I was always in really good shape. I loved wrestling right away.”

Bennett admits that he probably missed out on a lot when he was younger because he was determined to be the best and his life revolved around wrestling and training.

“It can be a tough way to live, but at the time that's what I wanted to do so that's what I did,” Bennett said. “When I was little my dad always told me that I'm not going to take you across the country to these tournaments if we are not training to win the tournament, not going to fill out the brackets, so my whole life the goal was always to be a champion.

“Going into high school my goal was to be a four-time state champion. I wanted to win the senior nationals, the junior nationals, and I won all those things. Going into college, in my mind, the next step was to be a national champion, and I don't think you realize how hard it really is, and I don't think I realized how hard it was to be an All-American.”

Bennett was promoted to CMU associate head coach last June after spending nine seasons as an assistant. He said the biggest difference with his new position is on the administrative side.

“I do a lot of scheduling and budgeting, things I didn’t do as much before in my years as an assistant coach,” he said. “I’ve taken the reins on some of these things, and it’s good for me to learn.”

Bennett is content with his current role at CMU and continuing to evolve as a coach under Borrelli. However, he hopes to one day take that next step as the head coach of a collegiate program.

“That’s my ultimate goal with coaching,” he said. “When that will happen, I don’t know. I guess I’m not in a hurry. When it happens, it will happen. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can right now.

“Coach Borrelli is an unbelievable coach, leader, mentor and role model, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can from him and soak up as much as I can from him until I get an opportunity somewhere to be a head coach. Right now I'm happy with where I'm at, and when that time comes, it will come.”

Bennett, 33, is engaged to former Chippewas field hockey player Erica Garwood. The couple has been dating for seven years and will get married next month.

“We’re excited, and I’m sure life will really change when we start having kids,” Bennett said. “But it’s good right now. We both went to school here, and she has a good job at an elementary school in town. We enjoy it up here.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Rockford’s Ben Bennett stands atop the podium at the 2008 Individual Finals, and now with fiancé Erica Garwood. (Middle) Bennett wrestles Clarkston’s Adam Lauzun for the Division 1 title at 171 pounds that season. (Current photo courtesy of Ben Bennett; 2008 photos from MHSAA Archives.)