Dundee Repeats in Latest D3 Rematch

February 22, 2014

By Chip Mundy
Special to Second Half

BATTLE CREEK – A “cement job” by Ryan Heiserman of the Dundee wrestling team on Saturday paved the way to the MHSAA Division 3 team wrestling championship at Kellogg Arena.

Heiserman used what the team calls a “cement job” to pin his opponent at 160 pounds, and it sparked Dundee to its second consecutive Division 3 title with a 34-24 victory over Richmond. It was a rematch of last year’s championship match, which also went to Dundee, 35-26.

“That pin was huge,” Dundee coach Tim Roberts said. “Over the head and under the arm and take it to the back – we call it a cement job.

“I call it a state championship.”

Heiserman, a senior who had never wrestled in an MHSAA championship match, was not a heavy favorite despite a 32-9 record.

He trailed 1-0 into the second period but suddenly took control and pinned his opponent with the “cement job” 3 minutes and 5 seconds into the match. The “cement job” seemingly happened in a matter of seconds.

“I just went out there, and I didn’t think I was going to get it,” Heiserman said. “I didn’t even know who the kid was, and it kind of scared me getting sent out there. It was really exciting when I got it, but it was a tough one to get.

“I’m surprised. My body just flew right over the top and sunk right in on top of him. It’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life.”

Richmond had won the first three matches by decisions to grab a 9-0 lead, but back-to-back technical falls by Zach Blevins (119) and Brendan O’Connor (125) gave the Vikings a one-point lead. Richmond regained the lead with back-to-back decisions before Dundee senior Doug Rojem won by decision at 140 to cut the deficit to 15-13.

At that point, there had not been a pin in the Final, but Dundee senior Sean Marogen changed that just 53 seconds into his match to give the Vikings a lead they would never relinquish.

“It’s my senior year,” Marogen said. “I just really wanted to do something big for my team. We worked hard all season, and we just wanted it more.”

Last year, Marogen lost his match in the Final and watched his brother John close out his dual-meet career with a win. He wanted to match his brother in that regard.

“He’s inspired me a lot, and we all push each other,” Marogen said. “It’s just awesome.”

Marogen’s pin gave Dundee a 19-15 lead going into Heiserman’s pivotal match, and the Vikings had strong wrestlers Tye Thompson and Teddy Warren ready in the next two. Heiserman’s victory clinched the championship in the eyes of many Dundee wrestlers and fans.

“I felt pretty good,” Roberts said. “I knew with Tye Thompson coming that we were in good shape – and we won the toss, so I knew they had to put their guy out at 189, which gave us the right guy to put on the right guy. 

“It was the right matchup, and once we won at 160 with a pin, we were in good shape. I knew that.”

After Heiserman’s win, Thompson and Warren did what was expected of them. Thompson won with a 9-2 decision, setting the stage for Warren, who only needed a decision to clinch the win for his team. But with the crowd chanting, “Ted-EEE, Ted-EEE, Ted-EEE,” Warren wanted to end his dual-meet career at Dundee with a pin to clinch. 

He picked up the pin in 3:37 while holding a 4-0 lead.

“You can’t really think of a better situation for a senior,” Warren said. “I’m glad I got to help out and seal the deal, but it really was a team effort. A lot of kids helped keep their matches close, and that’s really what won us the dual. 

“Right after our 171-pounder won, I knew we were going to win because I knew there was no way I was going to get pinned or give up any bonus points.”

Dundee (25-1) breezed to the championship match by defeating Lake Fenton 53-12 in the Quarterfinal and Saginaw Swan Valley 58-9 in the semi. Blevins (41-7), Rojem (42-4), Thompson (37-6) and Warren (19-3) each went 3-0 on the weekend. Rojem is the defending individual champion at 140, and Warren is the defending individual champion at 189. 

Adam Boyd (29-10), Austin Vannatter (31-9) and Devin Skatzka (33-3) each went 3-0 for Richmond (23-5), which had won three consecutive Division 3 championships before Dundee ended the run last year.

Skatzka is the defending individual champion at 145. 

“Last year, we just had a lot of pressure because we wanted to overcome, and this year it was just fun,” Marogen said. “We just came to wrestle; that’s all we wanted to do.”

Dundee has been in the Finals in seven of the past eight seasons and won three times during that span. 

Dundee and Richmond have met in the Finals in four of the past five seasons.

“I have a ton of respect for them because they do such a good job, and every time to beat them at all, it’s a big deal because they’re so good, and they are at their best here,” Roberts said. “People will beat them during the season and say, ‘Ah, Richmond isn’t that good this year,’ and I say, ‘Try to wrestle them at the end of February and see what you think.’ They have it together.” 

Richmond coach Brandon Day praised the Dundee program, too.

“I think we have a ton of mutual respect between each other,” he said. “Tim Roberts, he does what it takes to win. He puts the time in just like we do. The kids decide it; it is what it is. 

“If we’re going to lose to someone, I want to lose to someone who does things the right way.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) A Dundee wrestler lets out a celebratory yell during Saturday's Division 3 championship match. (Middle) Richmond and Dundee wrestlers do battle in the third straight MHSAA Final match between the teams. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

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.)