Davison's Olson Joins Mat Legends

March 7, 2015

By Nick Hankins
Special for Second Half 

AUBURN HILLS – It takes many people and a lot of time to build a legend.

That’s why Lincoln Olson was so quick to hand out credit for the incredible feat he accomplished Saturday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.          

Olson became the 20th wrestler in MHSAA history win four Individual Finals championships when he beat Walled Lake Central’s Daniel Shear by technical fall, 24-9, at 135 pounds. 

“I feel ecstatic right now,” Olson said. “This is something I have been working for my whole life. I am so grateful for all the people who have helped me get here. My coaches (Roy Hall and Paul Donahoe) and my father, I wouldn’t be the wrestler I am without them. They mean the world to me, they gave me everything I needed to achieve this goal. All my coaches have been by my side this whole journey.” 

Olson also finished his high school career with eight straight technical fall wins at MHSAA Finals.

“That has been my philosophy my whole life. I know I have a gas tank and a motor, and my conditioning I have been working on my whole life,” Olson said.  “That really separates me from other guys; that third period when they are tired, I just keep going.” 

103

Champion: Mike Mars, Westland John Glenn, Fr. (51-2) 
Decision, 8-4, over Elijuh Weaver, Roseville, Soph. (29-4)

Mars got a little revenge, and won an MHSAA title along the way.

He beat Weaver 8-4 to win his first Finals championship. 

“This feels unbelievable,” Mars said  “I knew he was going to be tough to beat.  He beat me the last time we wrestled at the beginning of the season. I worked hard all year to win a championship.”

112

Champion: Augustine Facundo, Davison, Fr. (38-8)
Decision, 9-4, over Donte Rivera-Garcia, Southgate Anderson, Soph. (54-3)

All year long, Facundo wrestled behind returning MHSAA champ and teammate Max Johnson in the 112-pound weight class.

But both wrestled in the MHSAA tournament and qualified for the Finals.

And when Johnson was upset in the Semifinal round by Rivera-Garcia, Facundo came back and avenged Johnson’s loss with a 9-4 win.

“It is awesome,” Facundo said. “It is such a rush to be a state champion. My dad and coaches put in a lot of hard work to get me to this point. I just stayed aggressive and rough to push the pace and win.”

119 

Champion: Noah Gonser, Grand Blanc, Sr. (56-3)
Decision, 9-2, over Brendan Hazelton, Harrison Township L’Anse Creuse, Sr. (57-2)

It’s always great to end your career a winner. That’s what Gonser did by beating Hazelton for his 56th win of the year and first MHSAA title. 

I feel great about that match,” Gonser said. “This is a great end to my high school career. It has not hit me yet, but I am very excited to be a state champ.

“Last night I was in bed looking at the ceiling and said ‘God, I’m in the Finals.’ I don’t think this has all hit me yet. ”

125

Champion: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central, Soph. (44-0)
Decision, 10-7, over Romeo Riley, Kalamazoo Central, Sr. (44-2)
 

Sometime winning your second MHSAA title can be harder than earning your first.

Walled Lake Central sophomore Ben Freeman felt that this year, but came through with a hard-fought win over Riley. 

Freeman won at 103 pounds last year.

“This is an awesome feeling,” Freeman said “It feels like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I have been working all year to win this title. I deserve to win this title because of all the sacrifices I have made.”

130

Champion: Trevor Zdebski, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (46-5)
Fall, 4:53, over Abe Ajami, Dearborn Fordson, Jr. (45-5)

Trevor Zdebski seconded Freeman’s sentiments on nerves the second time around.

Zdebski won his second title Saturday, but admitted afterward that it wasn’t easy, on the mat, or in his stomach.      

“It is extremely nerve-wracking wrestling in the Finals,” Zdebski said. ”I was able to turn that pressure and nervousness and turn it into fuel to get it done. What more could I ask for, to cap off my senior season with a state championship!” 

140

Champion: Dylan Steward, Grand Ledge, Jr. (44-2)
Decision, 9-4, over Nathan Atienza, Livonia Franklin, Soph. (49-4)

Sometime a loss earlier in the MHSAA tournament can act as motivation as the tournament moves on. 

That was the case for Grand Ledge junior Dylan Steward.

“Nobody was going to stop me from winning a state title,” Steward said. “I lost at Regionals and worked hard to get that title.” 

Steward won two of his matches at the Finals by major decision.

145

Champion: Dillon Ellsworth, Lapeer, Sr. (53-2)
Decision, 5-4 UTB, over Logan Parks, Southgate Anderson, Sr. (56-1)
 

Many coaches say to their wrestlers that they need to wrestle a full six minutes.

For Lapeer senior Dillon Ellsworth, he needed to wrestle a full nine minutes to beat Parks in the ultimate tiebreaker. 

“I feel pretty good,” Ellsworth said. “I tried to push the pace of that match. It is pretty cool I got to win it my senior year and go out with a win at The Palace.”

152

Champion: Blake Montrie, Temperance Bedford, Jr. (46-1)
Decision, 7-5 SV-1, over Tyler Grimsley, New Baltimore Anchor Bay, Sr. (57-1)

Montrie went for it all in overtime, and it paid off as he threw Grimsley in a head-and-arm for the sudden victory. 

“This is the greatest moment of my life,” Montrie said. “It’s a privilege to have my father in the corner and share this moment with him.

“I beat Grimsley at Grappler Fall Classic this year and I stuck with the same game plan to win a state championship.”

160

Champion: Myles Amine, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (47-0)
Decision, 7-6 SV-1 over Milik Dawkins, Flint Carman-Ainsworth, Sr. (53-2)

Amine was a little surprised by his opponent.

Dawkins came after the returning MHSAA champion and pushed him – until Amine held off the challenge and claimed the sudden victory on a technical violation.

It is very exciting to win two state championship,” Amine said. “When I came to Catholic Central, I never dreamed of having this much success as a team or individual. It is really special to have my family share this with me.”

171

Champion: Nicholas Brish, Brighton, Sr. (48-2)
Decision, 5-2, over Andrew Price, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, Sr. (51-3)

There is a lot of hard work and pressure that goes in every MHSAA championship, but Brighton’s Nicholas Brish said he had some fun. He won his first title with a 5-2

“I have had a fun year going after it this year,” Brish said. “Coach (Tony) Greathouse always tells us to push the pace in our matches, so that is what I did for six minutes. 

“It has been the greatest season ever for me, and this weekend ended on a great note.”

189

Champion: Alex Sovel, Walled Lake Central, Sr. (47-4)
Decision, 2-1, over Nick May, Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, Jr. (48-4)

Sovel made his first MHSAA Finals only last season, earning a seventh place in his debut. 

But Saturday, he closed his high school career with a memorable finish.

“I finally got it,” Sovel said. “I have told myself do whatever it takes this season, and it paid off today. It was special to have my brother Charles in the corner to share this moment.” 

Charles Sovel was an MHSAA Finals placer as a senior in 2012.

215

Champion: Luke Ready, Brighton, Jr. (52-2)
Decision, 3-0, over Antonio Balabani, Macomb Dakota, Sr. (52-5)
 

Strength was on display when these two took to the mat and as they battled the full six minutes.

“It is an awesome feeling to accomplish our team goals and my personal goals in the same year,” said Ready, whose team won the Division 1 title last weekend in Battle Creek. 

“Our coaching staff has been excellent this year. We have young coaches in (wrestling) with the team, and that is the reason we were able to accomplish our goals this year.”

285

Champion: Dan Perry, Lapeer, Jr. (61-0)
Decision, 3-2, over Ali Wahab, Dearborn Heights Crestwood, Jr. (59-1)
 

It was the battle of the unbeatens at heavyweight. And they are both juniors.

Perry edged Wahab by a mere point in a battle of wrestlers who had a combined 119-0 record coming into the final match. 

“This is an amazing feeling,” Perry said. “I have been working for this for years and I finally did it. I went out with the mindset to be physical, and I knew I was going to win.”

He wasn’t the only Perry to place this weekend; senior brother Jacob finished fifth at 189. 

“It is great to have my brother wrestle with me,” Dan Perry said. “I have someone there that can push me day in and day out mentally and physically to make me a better person and wrestler.”

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PHOTO: Davison's Lincoln Olson is awarded his final high school win Saturday, and with it a fourth MHSAA title. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Hall, Stevens Teaming Up to Continue Dundee Championship Tradition

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

November 22, 2022

DUNDEE – How do you replace a legendary coach? 

Southeast & BorderFor the Dundee Vikings wrestling program, it takes two. 

Nate Hall and Garrett Stevens opened practice last week as the new co-coaches of the ultra-successful Dundee wrestling program, taking the reins from Tim Roberts, one of the winningest coaches in state wrestling history. 

“From day one, we’ve done a really good job of pushing each other and staying focused,” Stevens said. “The kids have been getting after it. Things are going well.” 

Dundee’s wrestling program is a rich one. Roberts stepped down with a state-record 10 MHSAA Finals titles over his 23 seasons as head coach. In all 23 of those years, Dundee won District championships, and in 22 of those 23 years the Vikings won Regional titles. Roberts not only accumulated 10 Finals championship trophies, but he also won more than 500 dual matches.  

Hall and Stevens have coached together for several years on the Dundee staff. Now they are dividing up duties and looking to start the next era of Vikings wrestling.  

“We know what we are up against,” Hall said. “We have a strong tradition to keep on. We understand two people going at it is probably the better route.” 

The move is not without precedent. In the conference that Dundee competes in – the Lenawee County Athletic Association – Clinton had co-coaches lead the Redwolves to the Division 4 championship two seasons ago. Division 3 powerhouse Richmond has utilized co-coaches in the sport as well. 

“We sort of applied together,” Stevens said. “We thought we could do this.” 

Dundee Athletic Director Ross Crow said he was hesitant at first to consider the co-coach idea, but after meeting with both realized it could work. 

Stevens, top, and Hall stand with their retired coach and mentor at various events. span>“After sitting down with them and having a lengthy discussion, I realized they have an extremely organized and articulated plan as to how they are carrying the torch moving forward,” Crow said. “Whenever I have a question, I either text or e-mail both of them on a group thread. They both chime in and more often than not, the answer is exactly the same for both of them. It's a really good fit, as they are close friends and have no egos.” 

Stevens is a 2007 Dundee graduate. He wrestled for Roberts. His dad was a Dundee wrestler as well, graduating in the 1970s. Stevens brings his connection to the Dundee wrestling community to the table as well as years of coaching experience. 

Hall is from nearby Blissfield, where he was an all-state wrestler. He wrestled for Grand Valley State’s club program and was a coach there as well. He returned to southeast Michigan to coach with his father – Adrian Madison head coach Scott Hall – and joined the Dundee staff when he became a physical education teacher at the middle school about five years ago. 

As co-head coach, Nate Hall handles a lot of the organizational duties, especially anything involving the school district, since he works there. Stevens brings a technical side of the sport with him. 

The duo believe they can make it work because of the chemistry between them. 

“I was always more of a technical wrestler,” Stevens said. “I think Tim (Roberts) felt I could help connect with the kids and teach them how to do a few things differently. 

“After I graduated from high school, I got away from wrestling for a while, but in 2011, Tim reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get back involved and it seemed like a no-brainer. I missed it. I liked being around him and there were some things I could bring to the table. I was chomping at the bit once the opportunity opened for me.” 

Stevens said Roberts was wonderful to learn from because he was such a great person and sought out input from his staff. 

“Tim’s approach to coaching was unique,” Stevens said. “He’s very open-minded and understands there is so much more to learn. You constantly want your kids and program to grow. Every year I coached with him, he changed something every year. He was constantly modifying, tweaking, and seeking out help and advice from others.” 

Hall likes how things have started. 

“It’s going very well so far,” Hall said. “Tim didn’t leave the well dry. He’s got an established program and an established wrestling community that has been supportive of both Garrett and I so far.  

Stevens and son Brady, and Hall and daughter Kimberly, celebrate the 2020 championship.“We’ve got a tremendous senior class – three state champions and another kid that was third in the state last year. Their leadership is really going to be a huge aspect of our success this year.” 

The Vikings also have 14 freshmen.          

“We’ve hit the ground running,” Hall said. “We provide a lot of opportunities in the offseason for kids to get into the wrestling room and stay active. Most of our guys are active throughout. The freshmen are a real promising group that we can keep the ball rolling,” Hall said.  

The veterans in the wrestling room include Kaden Chinavare, a Central Michigan University signee who won an Individual Finals title as a sophomore; Aiden Davis, a two-time Finals champ headed to Bucknell; and Braeden Davis, a Penn State University recruit looking for a fourth consecutive Finals title in 2023.  

“The biggest thing with this group, I would say, is their willingness to push each other in the right manner,” Hall said. “We’ve got a lot of successful individuals, and they are already going out of their way to make sure each person around them is getting the most out of their reps they can get. 

“The team chemistry is already a big part of it.” 

Both coaches admit there is pressure to maintain a program that is not just known at the state level, but nationally.  

“If you’re not feeling that pressure, maybe you’re not taking it as seriously as it needs to be taken,” Hall said. “We are here to help kids accomplish their goals, and pressure is a part of that – especially at the elite level a lot of our wrestlers want to compete at.” 

Despite the turnover in coaching, Dundee’s goals remain high. 

Dundee opens with the Grappler Gold, will go to Davison, then compete at a big invitational in Ohio. They Vikings will compete at Detroit Catholic Central and the Hudson Super 16 in late January. 

“We always want to aim high,” Stevens said.

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Nate Hall, left, and Garrett Stevens walk together during the opening march at an MHSAA Team Finals; retired coach Tim Roberts is behind them, waving. (Middle) Stevens, top, and Hall stand with their retired coach and mentor at various events. (Below) Stevens and son Brady, and Hall and daughter Kimberly, celebrate the 2020 championship. (Top and below photos by Kathy Killion.)