D4 Preview: Return of the Champs

February 25, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This weekend’s Division 4 Individual Finals field is loaded with wrestlers who've had their shares of success at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Eight champions are back from last season, as are 10 who finished runners-up at their respective weights. Hudson senior Cole Weaver is going for his third MHSAA individual championship after also helping the Tigers to three team titles.

See below for 10 contenders to watch this weekend, plus others who enter the tournament undefeated or coming off runner-up finishes in 2013. 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. And check back with Second Half later Saturday night for full coverage from the Finals, including comments from all 14 champions.

285: Ryan Prescott, Whittemore-Prescott junior (30-0) – Continues to build an impressive career at the heaviest weight; he’s wrestling for his third straight championship match appearance and second straight title, and is 78-1 combined over the past two seasons.

112: Roddy Hamdan, Hudson junior (41-12) – Moved up to 112 this season after winning the 103-pound title in 2013 and finishing fifth at that weight as a freshman.

119: Logan Griffin, Erie-Mason junior (31-4) – One of the best stories of last season’s Finals, Grffin overcame a separated shoulder to win the 112-pound title in overtime over two-time champion Kenneth Dittenber from Carson City-Crystal. Griffin was an MHSAA runner-up as a freshman.

125: Zack Yates, Hesperia senior (43-0) – Last season’s champion at 119 pounds is a combined 94-1 over his last two and is wrestling for his third championship match berth; he finished runner-up at 119 as a sophomore.

140: Cole Weaver, Hudson senior (53-0) – Reigning champion at 130 hasn’t lost since his freshman season and has never finished lower than second place at an MHSAA Finals. Weaver has won two titles after finishing runner-up at 112 as a freshman, and brings a career 216-7 record into the weekend.

145: J.D. Waters, Hudson senior (45-10) – Reigning champion at 135 has had a bit of a tougher go after jumping two weights, but is still seeking his third championship match berth and never has placed lower than third at a Finals.

152: Austin Hughes, Saginaw Nouvel senior (44-2) – Just missed winning Nouvel’s first wrestling championship ever last season, falling 4-2 to New Lothrop's Josh Wendling (see below) at 145 pounds. He’s also earned third and fifth places during his outstanding career.

160: Josh Wendling, New Lothrop senior (52-4) – Attempting to add a second straight title after winning at 145 in 2013; Wendling has made at least the Semifinals his first three seasons and brings a 198-24 record into the weekend.

171: Taylor Krupp, New Lothrop senior (52-0) – Hasn’t lost since falling in overtime in last season’s 160-pound championship match and finished third at his weight in the Finals the year before that. Krupp joined Wendling in helping the Hornets to last weekend’s team title.

189: Jacob Cooper, Springport junior (41-2) – Beat Krupp 7-5 in overtime in the 160-pound championship match last season and has continued to shine after moving up two weights. He also was a runner-up, at 145 pounds, as a freshman.

Other 2013 runners-up: Montrose junior Arthur Payne (112, 45-2, 103 in 2013), Hudson senior Isaac Dusseau (119, 34-11), Fife Lake Forest Area senior Matthew Elliott (130, 35-1, 47-6 in 2013), Hesperia senior Chase Siersema (140, 41-3, 135 in 2013), Grass Lake senior Chad Decker (145, 31-2, 140 in 2013), Hart senior Spencer Reterstoff (160, 43-2, 152 in 2013), Sandusky senior Pat Brown (171, 38-4), Laingsburg sophomore Kevin Koenig (215, 44-3).

Also undefeated: Watervliet senior Brock Thumm (135, 36-0), New Lothrop sophomore Steven Garza II (140, 25-0), Constantine senior Andres Montoya (140, 44-0), Manton senior Tristin Rosted (171, 44-0), Detroit Loyola junior Patrick Harbin Jr. (215, 17-0).

Others of note: Hesperia sophomore Davian Gowens (103, 20-3), Dansville sophomore Clay Ragon (112, 51-1), Jonesville senior Carter Ballinger (130, 43-1).

PHOTO: Hudson’s Cole Weaver hoists his opponent during a Team Semifinals match against Hesperia last weekend in Battle Creek. (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.)