DCC's Marines 'Finishes Business' of Perfect Season, 4th Title Pursuit

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

March 2, 2024

DETROIT – Even after he capped a remarkable wrestling career at Detroit Catholic Central on Saturday with a fourth-straight Division 1 Individual Finals title, Darius Marines was all business.

“It’s amazing,” Marines said. “My goal coming in here today was just to finish business. I’ve done this before, three times before, so this is nothing different. It’s just another business day. And I got it done.”

The Catholic Central senior was dominant in a 10-2 win against Roseville sophomore Jay’Den Williams at Ford Field, becoming the 36th Michigan wrestler to win four individual titles. Dundee’s Kade Kluce would become No. 37 later in the night.

Marines – who won at 145, 152, and 157 in his final two seasons and finished this one 50-0 – is the third Catholic Central wrestler to accomplish the feat. He also claimed title No. 6, as he and the Shamrocks had won their second-straight Team Finals title a week earlier. 

He was one of five Shamrocks to win a title Saturday.

Williams entered the match unbeaten at 49-0 and was making his second-straight appearance in an Individual Final. He lost a year ago in the 144-pound final against Marines’ former CC teammate Clayton Jones.

“He’s a Greco guy, he did really good at Fargo (Nationals),” Marines said. “He got sixth at Fargo last year, so I knew he was going look for under-hooks and upper body things. My plan was just to stay out of his positions and get to my stuff, and that’s what I did.”

Champion: Steve Vaughn, Davison, Fr. (35-8)
Decision, 6-1, over Ethan Smith, Brighton, Soph. (47-7)

With a large contingent of his Davison teammates cheering him on matside, “Stevie” took control of the 106-pound Final with a first-period takedown, and never looked back.

He added a reversal and another takedown in the third to claim his first title in his first opportunity.

“It feels great man,” Vaughn said. “I’ve been working my whole life for this. I’ve been thinking this the whole year. Ever since I came in, I’ve been working, grinding.”

Champion: Wyatt Lees, Detroit Catholic Central, Soph. (49-5)
Fall, 1:42, over Matthew Quigley, Traverse City West, Fr. (46-4)

Lees made it two-for-two at Ford Field, quickly working for a pin to claim his second Finals title. He won his first a year ago at 106 pounds.

“It’s fun,” he said. “It felt really good.”

While he has two more to win, Lees now has his sights set on joining Marines as the next four-timer at Catholic Central.

“That’s always been my goal since setting foot at CC,” he said.

Champion: Archer Anderson, Clarkston, Jr. (32-5)
Decision, 10-8 OT, over Preston Lefevre, Clarkston, Jr. (33-6)

After finishing runner-up a year ago, Anderson wasn’t going to let anything stand in his way of coming out on top. Not even a 5-2 third-period deficit against his teammate.

Anderson rattled off three takedowns in the final period and added another in overtime to claim his first Finals title.

“I was just trying to score points,” he said. “I was just trying to score points and come back from the tilt he got me in.”

He said wrestling a teammate in the Final made things more nerve-racking.

“It makes it worse,” Anderson said. “We’ve wrestled each other so many times. The more you wrestle a kid, the tighter the match is going to get. It shows.”

Champion: Grayson Fuchs, Detroit Catholic Central, Fr. (42-6)
Decision, 8-5, over Bohdan Abbey, Hartland, Soph. (57-1)

The moment wasn’t too big for Fuchs, who wrestled his first Final at Ford Field against an unbeaten returning Finals champion in Abbey.

“I had a lot of confidence I was going to win a state title,” Fuchs said. “There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be at the top of that podium. I was confident.”

Fuchs was able to build an early lead and hold Abbey at bay down the stretch.

“It was vital that I got a takedown at the beginning and got some points up,” he said. “I know that with my head and hands defense, he wouldn’t be able to score on me. It was important for me to get those first points, and that tilt was big.”

Champion: Dallas Korponic, Hartland, Soph. (53-5)
Decision, 6-4, over Josh Vasquez, Grandville, Jr. (36-3)

Korponic trailed 3-2 in the third period before seeing an opening and taking it.

With 51 seconds remaining in the match, Korponic was able to reverse Vasquez and put him to his back, taking the lead with a four-point move that wound up winning him his first Finals title.

“He’s a funky kid, and I knew I was going to have to wrestle the whole match, and one of those times he was going to roll and I was going to take advantage of it,” Korponic said. “He got too low on me, and basically all I had to do was step over him for a headlock.”

Korponic held Vasquez off at the end, shooting a single leg and holding on as the final seconds ticked off.

Champion: Wyatt Hepner, Grosse Pointe South, Jr. (48-0)
Decision, 1-0, over Sam Agnello, Utica Eisenhower, Sr. (38-3)

Hepner knew points would be at a premium in this Regional rematch, and a second-period escape wound up being the only point scored, proving him right and making him Grosse Pointe South’s first Finals champion.

“It feels pretty awesome to say,” Hepner said. “I’m making history, which is awesome, and just having an impact on the Grosse Pointe South wrestling community. Hopefully we’ll just enlarge it and keep it growing.”

Hepner came close a year ago, finishing runner-up at 126 pounds. 

Davison’s Justin Gates, right, wrestles teammate Tanner McDunnah en route to claiming his third title. 

Champion: Justin Gates, Davison, Sr. (41-2)
Technical fall, 25-10 (4:21), over Tanner McDunnah, Davison, Jr. (33-8)

Gates finished his career as a three-time Finals champion and four-time finalist. 

He won at 103 as a freshman and 138 as a junior, while taking second as a sophomore.

“It feels great,” he said. “The work I put in every day, the work my teammates put in and helped me with every day, all my coaches, my family – I just want to thank them, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them. It’s just bittersweet leaving it all out there, that’s my last high school match I’ll ever wrestle, and I just tried to enjoy the moment and be present in it.”

Gates had high praise for his teammate, McDunnah, who was his roommate for the weekend.

“There’s nothing like losing the state finals that will give you that sting that you need to put a little extra work in,” Gates said. “Tanner is the type of kid to just out-work everybody. I’m sure he’s going to use that as extra motivation. I’ll expect him to be on the top of the podium next year for sure.”

Champion: Mason Stewart, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (50-3)
Decision, 3-1, over Vinnie Abbey, Hartland, Sr. (50-5)

Stewart lost a heartbreaker at the 2023 Finals and had a bit of a flashback when Abbey – also a Finals runner-up a year ago – looked to have secured a takedown in the final seconds to force overtime.

After officials discussed the call, however, it was ruled that Stewart had successfully fought him off, and the match was over.

“It was the best feeling in the world, honestly,” Stewart said. “I was in the same exact position a year ago, lost in the Finals, the guy reversed with short-time left, and it was one of the worst pains I’ve felt in my life. I knew that was never going to happen again. I wasn’t going to let that happen to myself. I just had to win.”

Champion: Zak Knapp, Brighton, Sr. (50-4)
Major decision, 13-1, over Zachary Taylor, Gibraltar Carlson, Jr. (52-1)

Knapp wasted little time taking control of this match, putting up eight points in the first period en route to his first Finals title.

“Every day in the room, I was just putting in the work,” he said. “I was super excited to be out here. I took it all in, I put my mind to being a state champ. I was pacing back and forth saying, ‘I’m the champ. The champ is here.’ I was ready for everything, and I stepped onto the mat, I was just going to go out there and give it my all and do whatever I can.”

Champion: Dylan Scott, Waterford Kettering, Sr. (38-2)
Decision, 5-3 OT, over Micah Roper, Oxford, Sr. (40-4)

Scott considers himself more of a defensive wrestler, but when overtime came around, he knew he had to be on the offensive. 

His aggressiveness paid off, as he was able to get the winning takedown to claim his first Finals title.

“Honestly, I’m a big defensive guy,” he said. “But throughout this year and other seasons, I’ve always lost by a takedown. My coach told me, ‘Takedowns win matches.’ So, right then and there, I had to make it count.”

Scott’s defense did come in handy late in regulation, however, as Roper was able to get in on his legs with the score tied at 3. But Scott was able to fight him off and force sudden victory.

Champion: Brock Trevino, Clarkston, Sr. (25-1)
Fall, 1:57, over Adam Bazzi, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, Sr. (42-3)

Trevino said he wrestles by feel, so when he felt he had Bazzi in a compromising position, he went with it, even though it was a move with which he wasn’t really familiar.

“It was pure luck, I don’t really drill that move ever, but it worked,” Trevino said. “It was a feel thing, you know. I get comfortable in positions, and that’s usually how I win. I’m not very technical, I just wrestle for positioning.”

After the win, Trevino busted out an air guitar, leg-kick celebration that was fitting of his wrestling style.

“My coach was just like, ‘C’mon, it’ll be sick,’” Trevino said.

Champion: Connor Bercume, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (43-3)
Decision, 5-3, over Logan Tollison, Grand Ledge, Soph. (48-4)

Bercume successfully defended his title at 215 pounds to become a two-time Finals champion.

“It feels pretty good,” he said. “I’m really not happy with the way I performed in the Final, but happy to have won.”

Bercume got an early takedown in the match and looked to be on his way to cruising, but Tollison settled into the match and gave him a fight until the final whistle.

Champion: Ryan Ahern, Rockford, Sr. (49-1)
Major decision, 17-6, over Anton Barynas, Jenison, Jr. (46-6)

Ahern weighed in at 211 pounds for the weekend, but that didn’t stop him from dominating the division and claiming his fourth all-state finish and first Finals title.

“It feels really good to finally get a win in the state Finals,” he said. “I feel like I’ve always been super motivated, but just throughout the years I’ve gotten better and better with great practice partners. Every year, I’ve had a bunch of different guys to practice with, and different coaches.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Detroit Catholic Central’s Darius Marines has his wrist raised in victory after clinching his fourth Individual Finals championship Saturday. (Middle) Davison’s Justin Gates, right, wrestles teammate Tanner McDunnah en route to claiming his third title. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

Performance of the Week: Detroit Catholic Central's Darius Marines

March 8, 2024

Darius Marines headshotDarius Marines ♦ Detroit Catholic Central
Senior ♦ Wrestling

Marines became the 36th wrestler in Michigan high school history to win a fourth Individual Finals championship as he clinched the 157-pound title with a 10-2 major decision over Roseville's previously-undefeated Jay'Den Williams on Saturday at Ford Field. Marines became the third Detroit Catholic Central wrestler to earn four Finals titles. 

The clinching victory put Marines at 50-0 to close this season, and 138-9 for his career. His previous championships came at 145 pounds as a freshman, 152 as a sophomore and 157 last year as a junior. He won by technical fall, pin and then major decision on the way to meeting Williams in the championship match. He also helped the Shamrocks to Division 1 team titles the last two seasons. Marines will continue wrestling at the college level and is considering multiple Division I opportunities.

@mhsaasports 🤼‍♂️POW: Darius Marines #wrestling #individual #detroitcatholiccentral #letsgo #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🤼‍♂️POW: Darius Marines #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #muhammadali #joker #pasta #japan #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

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PHOTO DCC's Darius Marines, left, wrestles Roseville's Jay'Den Williams in the Division 1 157-pound championship match Saturday at Ford Field. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)