Davis Becomes Dundee's Latest Member of 4-4 Club with Individual Sweep

By Drew Ellis
Special for MHSAA.com

March 4, 2023

DETROIT – Winning four MHSAA Individual Finals wrestling titles is quite an accomplishment.

Winning eight total wrestling championships is even more impressive.

But, that’s becoming somewhat commonplace for the Dundee wrestling program.

On Saturday, Dundee senior Braeden Davis (41-0) became the fifth wrestler in MHSAA history to win a fourth individual wrestling state championship to go with four team state championships as he defeated Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Michael Wilson (32-4), 3-1, in the 132-pound Division 3 final.

Three of the five four-four winners have come from the Dundee program, as Davis joined Stoney Buell (2018-21) and Casey Swiderski (2019-22).

“It means a lot. I am glad and proud for myself. It’s a great privilege and great accomplishment,” Davis said of joining the four-time winner club. “It means a lot to (join the other two with eight titles). We trained a lot together. We all managed to succeed and get things done.”

Davis hadn’t seen a third round in his previous three Individual Finals weekends and still hadn’t until Saturday. The first two rounds of the championship match were scoreless before Davis got an escape to start the third and then finally scored a takedown later in the round to go up 3-0.

“I try not to think about (winning quickly) because that is something that can make me nervous. I just try to drown it out and not think about that,” Davis said. “I just had to wrestle smart and keep my hands down. I managed to hit a nice little go-behind.”

Davis was one of seven Dundee wrestlers to capture an individual championship Saturday.


Champion: Haydn Nutt, Dundee, Fr. (38-6)
Major Decision, 12-2, over Mason Haines, Dundee, Fr. (28-8)

A pair of Dundee freshmen collided in the 106-pound final, with Nutt scoring a decision over teammate Haines.

“It is kind of fun,” Nutt said of wrestling his teammate. “It was pretty exhausting, but it was fun. We’ve been wrestling since we were like 8, so we basically know everything about each other. I was just moving, scoring and shooting. That’s what was working.”

The two have had more competitive battles in the past, but Nutt was bringing an extra level of intensity in the championship bout.

“My blood was pumping the entire time,” Nutt said. “I felt like I had so much energy, and I couldn’t get rid of it.”


Champion: Dale Gant, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Fr. (39-6)
Decision, 2-1, over Talan Parsons, Ovid-Elsie, Jr. (50-1)

Gant knew he needed his best to get past the unbeaten Parsons. After a scoreless first period, Gant managed to secure a takedown in the second and then avoid getting put on his back in the third to hand Parsons his lone blemish of the season.

“I was just trying to stick to my stuff and not let him get comfortable,” Gant said. “I have lost to him in the past, so I knew what to expect from him.”

Following the victory, the GRCC freshman dove into his coaches’ arms, with his coaches perhaps even more excited than the new champion.

“This means a lot. I have been thinking about this day for years,” Gant said. “It’s been playing over and over in my mind. It’s just an amazing feeling.”


Champion: Kade Kluce, Dundee, Jr. (42-5)
Major Decision, 14-4, over Noah Harris, Richmond, Sr. (41-6)

Kluce has set himself up to possibly be the next in line for eight wrestling championships.

The Dundee junior claimed his third individual title Saturday to go along with three team titles.

“I feel I could have done better,” Kluce said. “I was hoping for a tech fall and I was close, but didn’t quite get it. But, I am still proud of myself.”

Kluce won the 103-pound title in 2021 and the 112-pound title a year ago.

“It feels easier as I go along,” Kluce said of the third title. “I have gotten used to the environment and just look to score as much as I can.”


Champion: Cameron Chinavare, Dundee, Jr. (37-2)
Decision, 3-0, over Gavyn Merchant, Kingsley, Jr. (44-2)

In a pretty defensive matchup, Chinavare rode out a first-round takedown to an eventual victory over a familiar opponent in Merchant.

“It was a dog fight out there. We just went out and scrapped. I had fun,” Chinavare said. “I knew his shot pretty well, and he just couldn’t get in on it.”

Chinavare was the 125-pound champion a year ago and used his big-match experience to keep Merchant from scoring.

“There is no better feeling than to win a state title,” Chinavare said. “It’s a great feeling.”


Champion: Kaden Chinavare, Dundee, Sr. (41-6)
Decision, 5-4, over Gianni Tripp, Alma, Sr. (51-6)

After scoring three first-round pins to reach the 138-pound final, Chinavare was pushed to the limit.

Tripp led 4-2 in the third period following a takedown, but Chinavare dug deep and got an escape before eventually getting the championship-winning takedown in the closing moments.

“I have been there a lot this whole season. My coach always just tells me to stay calm,” Chinavare said of the close match. “I just had to breath and get through those closing seconds. It was tough.”

Despite the lopsided wins earlier in the weekend, Chinavare knows that Saturday’s final is the kind of match that will make him a better wrestler.

“I just never stop the grind,” Chinavare said. “Even now, I will be wrestling again in a few days. The grind just doesn’t stop, and that’s what it takes.”


Champion: Camden Johnecheck, Williamston, Sr. (44-2)
Decision, 7-6, over Blake Cosby, Dundee, Fr. (42-7)

Johnecheck is all that kept Dundee’s wrestling program from crowning a record-tying eight individual champions Saturday.

The senior was down 5-0 early to Cosby, but rallied to even the match at 5-5. An escape from Cosby got him back in the lead, but Johnecheck managed to surge his way to a takedown in the closing seconds to win.

“I am known for my conditioning, and I felt like if I could make it to the third period, I could make up some ground,” Johnecheck said. “I had to go for something late, so I went for my single-leg and it just worked out.”

Knowing it was his final match, Johnecheck made sure he ended it on a high note.

“It’s always nice to be able to beat someone of his caliber,” Johnecheck said. “As a senior, it was my last match, and I didn’t want to have it be a loss to a freshman, so I had to lay it all out on the line.”


Champion: Kole Katschor, Dundee, Soph. (43-9)
Decision, 5-4 (OT), over Cole Karasinski, Grand Rapids West Catholic, Sr. (44-1)

Katschor held a 3-0 lead, but Karasinski managed to tie the match at the buzzer with a takedown to force OT with the score tied 4-4.

After a scoreless minute, Katschor managed to ride out Karasinski, and then earn an escape to score the 150-pound title.

“I just tried to ride him out and I knew if I could do that, I could get an escape on him,” Katschor said. 

The title was the first of this Finals for Dundee, setting the tone for a big night for the program.

“It was a hard match, but I just really wanted that title,” Katschor said. “It is a sweet feeling to be able to get it.”


Champion: Aiden Davis, Dundee, Sr. (44-2)
Decision, 5-2, over Tyler Schofield, Olivet, Jr. (47-1)

After finishing runner-up in 2020, Davis completed a third-consecutive championship run. The two were tied at 1-1 during the third period, but Davis used his Finals experience to prevail.

“I felt pretty good during the match. (Schofield) wasn’t shooting much, so I felt like I was controlling the pace of the match and felt pretty comfortable,” Davis said.

Davis was the 135-pound champion in 2021 and the 145-pound champion last year. He credits his success to the support from the Dundee faithful.

“You see a sea of blue in the D3 section, and it’s amazing because they feed me energy,” Davis said. “The environment that Dundee provides is unlike any other.”

Kingsley’s Kyan Fessenden, left, shows his chart after defeating a past champion in his Finals bout.


Champion: Kyan Fessenden, Kingsley, Sr. (41-1)
Decision, 4-3, over Connor Owens, Flint Powers Catholic, Sr. (26-2)

With his prep career winding down, Fessenden knew he had to pull out some magic.

Trailing 3-2 to Owens, the Kingsley senior fought his way to scoring a reversal in the closing seconds. That proved to be the difference.

“This was the last match of my high school career. You have to go big or go home, so that’s what I did,” Fessenden said. 

The victory kept Owens from repeating as champion, while giving Fessenden his first title.

“It feels amazing. (Owens) is a great competitor, and being able to beat him makes it even more special,” Fessenden said. “He really pushed me to my limit.”


Champion: Noah Etnyre, Lutheran Westland, Sr. (46-3)
Fall, 2:35, over Gavin Craner, Belding, Soph. (53-5)

Only one pinfall victory occurred in the Division 3 Finals on Saturday, and that went to Etnyre.

He trailed Craner 2-0 early, but managed a quick escape and eventually secured a takedown early in the second period that led to a pin.

“I felt like I had better hips, and I felt like I would be able to win the scrambles with him. That’s what set up the win,” Etnyre said.

Etnyre was the Division 4 171-pound runner-up in 2022 and felt like Saturday’s victory was a nice redemption story to end his career.

“This feels great. It has been my goal since freshman year to win a state title,” Etnyre said. “I am just blessed to be here and be able to be a champion.”


Champion: Bryson Hughes, Reed City, Sr. (50-2)
Decision, 5-3 (OT), over Troy Demas, Constantine, Sr. (50-2)

A takedown in sudden victory was the difference as Hughes got past Demas.

“It was all about working. Just always work. Nothing is ever settled, you have to settle it yourself,” Hughes said. “That was a great challenge. (Demas) is a great athlete and an excellent wrestler. It was just about pushing myself to be the best.”

Each wrestler led during regulation, but were evenly matched. A fatigued Hughes could barely put into words how he felt about winning.

“It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I know that in the days to come I am going to be very happy,” Hughes said.


Champion: Elizin Rouse, Kingsford, Jr. (35-4)
Decision, 5-3 (OT), over Bennett VandenBerg, Constantine, Jr. (54-2)

March is known for upsets, but the 11th-seeded Rouse provided one of the all-time upsets when he won the 215-pound championship this weekend.

“I knew the seeding wasn’t right. They haven’t watched me wrestle,” Rouse said of his seeding. “It’s no hate to them, they were just doing their job, but I had to prove them wrong.”

The junior from the Upper Peninsula needed overtime to get past VandenBerg. After trailing 2-0 in the second period, Rouse fought his way back and took a 3-2 lead in the third before VandenBerg forced OT with an escape.

In the extra period, Rouse powered his way to a takedown.

“We were both tired. I could hear him breathing heavy, and I know I was breathing heavy,” Rouse said. “I was just trying to push through to represent the boys from the U.P.”


Champion: Shane Cook, Whitehall, Sr. (62-0)
Decision, 9-5, over Landen Roe, Birch Run, Sr. (44-7)

The top seed and unbeaten Cook took control and never looked back. Going up 5-0 early in the second period, Cook was never in much danger of losing the 285-pound title match.

“The game plan was just to let it fly like I do any other match. Ultimately this match is just like any other. I had to score points like I would my other matches,” Cook said. “I was aggressive, and I was really happy with my performance.”

Saturday’s championship capped an impressive 62-0 record for the senior.

“It’s a pretty unreal feeling,” Cook said. “It hasn’t fully hit me yet. I’m trying to let it hit me, but it just hasn’t yet. I’m extremely happy right now, and I’m sure I’ll never forget this moment.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Dundee’s Braeden Davis, top, works toward a win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Michael Wilson on Saturday at Ford Field. (Middle) Kingsley’s Kyan Fessenden, left, shows his chart after defeating a past champion in his Finals bout. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Constantine Football All-Stater, Wrestling Champ Aiming for Grand Finale

By Scott Hassinger
Special for MHSAA.com

April 30, 2024

CONSTANTINE – Bennett VandenBerg has earned many accolades over the last four years as a three-sport athlete at Constantine.

Southwest CorridorBut the awards aren't what the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout will remember most when reflecting on his memories as an all-state football player, state champion wrestler and record-breaking throwing specialist on the Falcons' track & field squad.

"I'll remember how I represented our school and pushed myself to be the best I could be in each sport that I played," said VandenBerg, who has earned 12 varsity letters.

VandenBerg has evolved into one of the most accomplished athletes in the state this school year as a senior, especially standing out among those from smaller communities.

This past fall he was named first-team Division 5-6 all-state at defensive end in football before winning the Division 3 Individual Finals wrestling title at 285 pounds in early March at Ford Field.

VandenBerg's final goal is to win the discus title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals on Saturday, June 1, in Kent City to end his Constantine career all-state in all three sports.

He broke the school record in the discus his junior year with a throw of 158 feet, 1 inch; the previous mark of 156-6 had been held by Doug Polasek since 1986. VandenBerg has eclipsed his school record twice this spring, most recently with a personal-best toss of 170-9 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference double dual meet with Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian. He ranks No. 4 statewide in the event regardless of enrollment division. Lawton junior Mason Mayne at 175-4 is the only Division 3 competitor with a better throw than VandenBerg.

"It's really cool to have your name up on the school record board, but I'd like to make that mark more untouchable before I'm done," VandenBerg said. "My goal is to be a state discus champion. I've put in the necessary work for it. It would be nice to end my career that way."

Kyle Rimer, Constantine's veteran boys track & field coach, is most impressed with VandenBerg's leadership and presence in working with the Falcons' younger athletes.

VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. "Bennett loves to compete. Ever since he was a freshman, we've also had him on our 400-meter relay team. That's something he really enjoys doing. He's not just a thrower, but a good overall athlete with lots of drive,” Rimer said. “There's a lot of individuality in track & field, but I think he does a great job of leading the younger kids. He has the drive, accountability and technique to achieve his goal of being a state champion in his throwing events.”

VandenBerg is already a two-time Finals placer in the discus, earning sixth as a junior and seventh his sophomore year. He admits being a little disappointed with his distance at the 2023 state meet.

"In that particular event (discus) you need lots of focus and determination because there are a ton of tiny things you can mess up on that affect your throw. To become better you need to be consistent, show up every day and be willing to put in the work," VandenBerg said. "Right now I'm working on my speed in the circle and quickness in my follow-through."

VandenBerg also has been pleased with his improvement this spring in the shot put. He's increased his distance by over five feet and hopes to break the school record in that event as well. John Kampars (1967) holds Constantine's shot put record at 54-8¼, and VandenBerg's personal best is 48-10 in a double-dual meet this season against Parchment and Centreville.

"Shot put is a difficult event. You need power, but your form has to be top-notch – otherwise it's tough to move that 12-pound ball," VandenBerg said. "I would love to qualify for state in both the discus and shot put and be all-state in each. That would be amazing if I could be a state champion in either of those events."

VandenBerg has put in extra work in the offseason with special instruction from Bill Griffey of Next Throw in Plainwell, along with working with Constantine assistant track & field and head football coach Shawn Griffith.

"Bennett puts a lot of time into working on his throwing. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, and he's a bigger kid who is not afraid to be coached and listens to what other people tell him," Griffith said. "We're excited to see what he can do now that we've had warmer weather recently."

VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft.VandenBerg's motivation this spring follows a tremendous wrestling season that saw him finish 54-0 and capture the 285 championship with a 3-0 win in the title match over Reed City junior Wyatt Spalo.

"I gained 20 pounds of muscle and did everything you need to do to become a better athlete to wrestle the heavyweight division. Winning the title was overwhelming. It was everything I ever wanted, and the first 20 minutes after winning it was relief, especially after losing in the Finals as a junior. I just went into that last match and wrestled smart and confident," VandenBerg said. "My speed and strength gave me an advantage over the bigger heavyweights I faced this year."

Vandenberg, 188-22 with 104 career pins, became the 10th Finals champion in Constantine wrestling history and the first to achieve the feat since Kevin Watkins won a 152-pound crown in 2000.

VandenBerg competed at 189 as a freshman and sophomore. He was a Regional qualifier as a freshman and finished sixth in Division 3 as a sophomore before ending his junior campaign as the Finals runner-up at 215. 

"Bennett is a competitor who hates to lose, and if he does he learns from it. He had a lot of good practice partners on the team his first three years, and he wasn't going to be denied after losing in the Finals as a junior," said Constantine wrestling coach Dale Davidhizar Jr.

VandenBerg played on Constantine's varsity football team for four years. He got a lot of extra playing time as a freshman when Constantine reached the Division 6 Semifinals during in the COVID-shortened season. He led the Falcons in rushing as a sophomore before switching to tight end as a junior. Out of necessity, VandenBerg returned to lead Constantine in rushing and scoring again as a senior.

"Bennett learned a great deal from the older guys on the team his first three varsity seasons. He learned leadership qualities and is a very unselfish kid who is willing to do what's best for his team," Griffith said.

VandenBerg is most proud of Constantine winning a District crown last fall, especially after his senior class went 0-5-1 as eighth graders. VandenBerg posted 164 solo tackles at defensive end during his final high school season and was Constantine's main offensive weapon with 1,354 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing on 186 carries.

"Winning Districts as seniors in football was a special moment. As eighth graders, we weren't exactly the most athletic team, but we put in the work as we got older to become successful," VandenBerg said.

VandenBerg has been invited to play for the West team at the annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Game this summer.

College coaches have shown interest in VandenBerg in all three sports, especially football and wrestling. VandenBerg, who carries a cumulative GPA of 3.989 and scored 1110 on his SAT, is weighing his options in athletics but knows he wants to study either ecology or forestry in college.

"I love being outdoors and doing what I love to do," VandenBerg said.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Constantine’s Bennett VandenBerg competes in the discus during a home meet his junior season. (Middle) VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. (Below) VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft. (Photos by Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal.)