By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Hudson and New Lothrop have met in the Division 4 Wrestling Final five straight seasons, and one of those two teams has won the championship in this division a decade running.
But if seeds are correct this weekend, there will be some significant shake-up come Saturday afternoon at Kalamazoo's Wings Event Center.
Hudson and New Lothrop are seeded third and fourth, respectively, with Clinton seeking its first MHSAA wrestling title as the favorite and Carson City-Crystal hoping to achieve the same as the second seed.
Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 4, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at noon Friday, with Semifinals at 9:30 a.m. 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: 28-4, No. 3
League finish: First in Tri-County Conference
Co-coaches: Jeff Rolland, sixth season (162-42); Casey Randolph, first season (28-4)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Brandon Beach (27-12) sr., 119 AJ Baxter (44-6) soph., 125 Christian Minard (33-13) sr., 125 Noah Comar (47-1) sr., 130 George Ames (33-9) fr., 135 Spencer Konz (39-8) soph., 140 Kent McCombs (30-8) fr.,145 Riley Jeffrey (37-8) sr., 152 Jeffrey Konz (35-11) sr., 160 Brayden Randolph (40-1) soph., 171 Cecil Rafferty (36-12) sr., 215 Logan Badge (31-2) fr., 285 Will Felts (27-13) soph.
Outlook: Clinton will wrestle in the Quarterfinals for the fourth time in six seasons, and just missed its first championship match last year falling to New Lothrop in the Semifinals after entering the tournament as the second seed. Seniors fill half the weights, with underclassmen the other half. Comar has wrestled in three Individual Finals championship matches, winning a title in 2017, and Baxter – one of those underclassmen – also was an individual runner-up last season. Jeffrey and Randolph also were placers in 2018.
#2 Carson City-Crystal
Record/rank: 39-2, No. 4
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Kacy Datema, ninth season (234-69)
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up in 2000 and 2001.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Nolan Datema (42-1) sr., 125 Jaron Johnson (40-5) soph., 130 Jamison Ward (44-1) jr., 135 Daryn Shepler (36-7) sr., 140 Aiden Adkins (32-14) sr., 152 Caleb Collins (45-3) sr., 160 Braxton Seida (39-2) sr., 171 Nash Akin (33-13) jr., 189 Daniel Smith (43-2) sr., 215 Brian Yeakey (40-4) jr.
Outlook: Carson City-Crystal also has been edging up, moving to the second seed this year after entering last year’s Finals as a third seed and falling to New Lothrop in the Quarterfinals. This will be the Eagles’ fifth Finals weekend in seven seasons, and they got here in part by beating No. 6 Hart in the Regional Final. Ward and Seida were individual runners-up in 2017, and they were joined by Smith, Yeakey, Shepler, Adkins and Nolan Datema among placers.
Record/rank: 17-7, No. 1
League finish: Second in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Scott Marry, 31st season (789-187)
Championship history: Seven MHSAA championships (most recent 2018), three runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Bronson Marry (30-8) fr., 103 Payton Rogers (26-8) fr., 119 Caden Natale (23-4) soph., 125 CJ Berro (24-18) soph., 135 Jordan Hamdan (41-0) sr., 145 Dylan Smith (33-8) soph., 152 Jorge Sereno (32-11) sr., 171 John Betz (24-10) sr., 189 Kyle Moll (32-10) jr.
Outlook: Hudson won its second straight title and seventh over the last decade last season, and is returning after convincing wins over No. 7 Mendon and No. 9 Bronson at the Regional. Hamdan will wrestle next month for a fourth MHSAA individual championship, and Sereno, Natale and senior Carson Price also were Finals placers last year – Price returned last week after missing two months to win a match against Mendon. Senior Tucker Sholl – an individual champion in 2016 and runner-up in 2017 – also is back, returning two weeks ago after missing nearly a month of competition. It’s also important to note again that although Hudson finished runner-up in its league, that second place came to Division 3 top seed Dundee.
#4 New Lothrop
Record/rank: 23-7, No. 2
League finish: First in Mid-Michigan Activities Conference
Coach: Jeff Campbell, 18th season (456-90)
Championship history: 15 MHSAA championships (most recent 2016), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Andrew Krupp (25-18) soph., 119 Alex Wolford (28-9) fr., 135 Logan Zell (32-12) sr., 140 Micah Poletti (31-16) sr., 145 Austin Wolford (32-3) sr., 171 Justin Carnahan (32-5) jr., 189 Camden Orr (38-8) soph., 215 Isiah Pasik (36-8) fr.
Outlook: New Lothrop finished runner-up for the second straight season a year ago despite entering as the sixth seed, and the Hornets have appeared in five straight championship matches. In addition to contending again, this will be a valuable experience for a group that includes only six seniors, including five scheduled to be in the lineup Friday. Wolford won the 140-pound individual championship last season, while Carnahan was a runner-up and Zell was a placer.
Record/rank: 23-2, No. 5
League finish: First in Cascades Conference
Coach: Steve Vlcek, 29th season (601-213)
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up 2008.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Jacob Bunn (27-7) fr., 103 Jared Bunn (39-10) fr., 119 Drew Gebhardt (41-9) jr., 130 Jacob Shelby (44-5) jr., 135 Grant Tungate (34-12) sr., 140 Josh Bunn (20-8) sr., 145 Jacob Kurgin (41-8) jr., 152 Max Wagner (36-16) sr., 160 Nick Phillips (36-16) jr., 171 Collin McCaffrey (46-7) jr., 189 Derek Guenther (34-13) jr., 285 Simon Lato (42-11) jr.
Outlook: Manchester is back at the Quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons after missing a year ago, with a win over No. 10 Springport in the Regional Final clinching this trip. This is another team that could be on the verge of a couple of big finishes, with only six seniors and four expected to start. Gebhardt and Shelby were Finals placers last season, and they are two of 10 Flying Dutchmen with at least 30 wins this winter.
#6 Leroy Pine River
Record/rank: 25-9, No. 8
League finish: First in Mid-Michigan Wrestling Conference
Coach: Tim Jones, 20th season (556-132)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1991.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Matthew Treiber (29-17) fr., 130 Jordan Koetje (35-9) jr., 145 Thomas Hooker (30-17) jr., 160 Austin Wuesten (33-10) jr., 171 Brock Nelson (44-2) jr., 215 Tim Rizor (42-2) jr., 285 Bryan McCurry (43-5) sr.
Outlook: Some incredible totals keep growing – make that now 19 league and District titles and eight Regional championships (including five straight) since Jones took over the program. Pine River also advanced to the Semifinals last season with a relatively young team that returns with one expected senior starter but a strong junior group. Nelson and Rizor were Finals placers last season, Rizor a runner-up.
Record/rank: 21-2, unranked
League finish: First in North Star League
Coach: Mark Grant, 17th season (record N/A)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Joey Galvez (34-11) soph., 130 Teddy Peters (37-10) jr., 135 Matthew Grant (30-5) jr., 140 Brendan Fenstermaker (37-13) soph., 152 Seth Enos (32-14) soph.
Outlook: After making the Quarterfinals last season for the first time, Onaway is back and moved up a seed. Matthew Grant was a Finals runner-up last season at 135 and leads a group of qualifiers that has grown from three last season to five making the trip to Ford Field next weekend.
Record/rank: 27-11, unranked
League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference
Coach: Rob Ling, 14th season (318-147)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Caden Sukich (44-7) jr., 119 Hunter Martens (42-11) soph., 152 Mark Fox (41-9) jr., 285 River Fox (49-2) sr.
Outlook: Schoolcraft is coming off its first Regional title and edged formerly-ranked White Pigeon to earn the trip to Kalamazoo. This next step comes after the Eagles won their second straight league and District championships, and with a lineup that’s split evenly between upper and underclassmen but will graduate only three starters. River Fox was a Finals placer last season.
PHOTO: Carson City-Crystal, here during a match in December, is the second seed in Division 4 this weekend. (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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