By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Division 4 features some of the most intriguing storylines heading into this weekend’s Individual Wrestling Finals at Ford Field – including some that could continue past this weekend.
Hudson senior Jordan Hamdan is hoping to become either the 25th or 26th four-time Finals champion – Detroit Catholic Central’s Kevon Davenport is attempting the same in Division 1 – while Mendon’s Skyler Crespo is competing for his third straight title and three others are wrestling to win their second. Crespo is a junior, and with another championship this weekend would be among a possible few looking to join that four-time club in 2020.
Below, we look at 10 contenders to watch in Division 4, plus list everyone who finished at least as a runner-up in 2018 and all of the top seeds heading into this weekend. Surely we still missed a few who will end up rising to the top of the podium Saturday – but come back to Second Half early Sunday as we’ll interview and report on all 56 champions.
The “Grand March” on Friday begins at 11 a.m., with five rounds wrestled throughout the day including the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Wrestling picks back up with consolation rounds at 9 a.m. Saturday, and concludes with the championship matches that afternoon at 3 p.m.
112 Ben Modert, Bronson junior (48-2) – Last season’s champion at 103 is seeded first at 112 with losses this season to only Clinton 119 top seed AJ Baxter and Division 3 qualifier Kanon Atwell of Lake Odessa Lakewood. Modert also took fifth at 103 as a freshman.
119 Robbie Altland, Hart senior (45-1) – Altland was the Division 3 runner-up at 103 last season and earned the top seed in this bracket as he makes a run at his first title. He took third at 103 as a sophomore and seventh as a freshman, both in Division 4 before his team moved for last winter.
125 Noah Comar, Clinton senior (50-1) – Comar is 213-8 over his career and has made the championship match all of his first three seasons, winning 112 as a sophomore and falling at 112 as a freshman and 125 last winter. He’s seeded first this weekend with his only defeat to unbeaten Hartland Division 1 favorite Kyle Kantola.
130 Jamison Ward, Carson City-Crystal junior (46-1) – The top seed at this weight is seeking his first title after taking fourth at 119 last season and finishing runner-up at 103 as a freshman. Ward’s only loss this winter came to Division 3 qualifier Mark Langewicz of Algonac.
135 Jordan Hamdan, Hudson senior (44-0) – The top seed at 135 enters the weekend a combined 203-8 over his career with his previous championships at 130 last season, 119 as a sophomore and 112 as a freshman. He is one of only two wrestlers to defeat Mendon reigning champ Skyler Crespo this season, and he hasn’t lost a high school match in more than two years.
145 Austin Wolford, New Lothrop senior (34-3) – The top seed at 145 will look to add to last season’s title at 140, fourth place at 135 as a sophomore and fifth at 130 as a freshman. His only losses were to top seeds Avry Mutschler of Lowell (Division 2), Christian Killion of Dundee (D3) and Richmond D3 qualifier Hayden Bastian. Wolford owns the other win over Crespo this winter.
140 Skyler Crespo, Mendon junior (47-2) – As noted, the top seed at 140 has lost only to reigning champions Hamdan and Wolford this winter, and both by close decisions. Crespo is the reigning champ at 135 and also claimed the 125 title as a freshman, and brings a 154-4 career record into this weekend.
189 Kyle Cassiday, Beaverton senior (48-1) – Last season’s champion at this weight does not enter as the top seed – he lost 1-0 to Napoleon’s Ethan Weatherspoon (see below) earlier this winter – but is lined up to meet Weatherspoon for a rematch. Cassiday is a combined 104-2 over the last two seasons.
189 Ethan Weatherspoon, Napoleon senior (49-0) – Last season’s Division 3 champion at this weight already owns a win over the reigning Division 4 champion Cassiday (above). Weatherspoon also finished eighth at 171 as a sophomore and seventh at 160 as a freshman.
215 Tim Rizor, Leroy Pine River junior (43-2) – Rizor went from seventh at 171 as a freshman to runner-up at 189 last season, and he’s the top seed at 215 with a 110-22 career record entering the weekend.
Other 2018 runners-up: 119 AJ Baxter, Clinton sophomore (46-7, 103 in 2018); 119 Jesse Brumm, Vermontville Maple Valley sophomore (43-3, 112 in 2018); 135 Matthew Grant, Onaway junior (31-5, 135 in 2018); 171 Justin Carnahan, New Lothrop junior (32-5, 171 in 2018).
Additional No. 1 seeds: 103 Brayton Mears, Union City freshman (32-4); 152 Jorge Sereno, Hudson senior (35-11); 160 Braydon Randolph, Clinton sophomore (43-1); 171 Brock Nelson, Leroy Pine River junior (45-2); 285 River Fox, Schoolcraft senior (50-2).
PHOTO: Jordan Hamdan (right) wrestles Clinton's George Ames during the Division 4 Team Final on Saturday at Wings Event Center. (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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