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.)

After All-American Career, Rockford's Bennett Making Impact as Mat Mentor

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

July 25, 2023

ROCKFORD – Ben Bennett knew from an early age what he wanted his career path to be.

Made in Michigan is powered by Michigan Army National Guard.“I always wanted to coach,” the former Rockford High School wrestling standout said. “I think I have wanted to coach since I was in middle school. I wanted to be a college wrestling coach.”

Bennett, 33, is currently living out his dreams of becoming a collegiate coach as a member of the Central Michigan University wrestling program.

Bennett, one of the most decorated wrestlers in CMU history, is in his 10th season on 32-year coach Tom Borrelli’s staff.

“I was getting ready to graduate, and a position opened up,” Bennett said. “I think Coach Borrelli knew that I really wanted to stay involved in wrestling and get into coaching. I was fortunate enough to slide into that position, and he had enough faith in me to let me stay here.”

Before getting the opportunity to coach, Bennett amassed eight years of unbridled success at the high school and collegiate levels.

He was a three-time Individual Finals champion at Rockford and helped lead the Rams to a Division 1 team championship as a junior.

“I had a really good high school experience, and I really enjoyed wrestling for our head coach at the time, Don Rinehart,” Bennett said. “He coached for a long time, and we always had some very competitive teams.

“In 2007, my junior year, we won the team state duals, but every year we were really competitive and had multiple individual state champions. Those were the type of teams I was able to wrestle on, which made it pretty exciting and pretty fun when you have those types of guys around you.”

After excelling through the junior ranks, Bennett made an immediate impact for the Rams and captured the Division 1 championship at 140 pounds as a freshman.

However, the following year, he took third at 152 after losing a semifinal match 2-1.

That defeat was humbling for Bennett but also showed him how to handle adversity.

“At the time, in my eyes, the world was ending,” Bennett said. “You look back and it probably was more of a positive. It's good to have those things happen to you, and you face some adversity.

“And I think that's more relatable to life rather than just when you win all the time. I did a lot of winning, but when things are really important, sometimes it's good to fail, for things not to go your way because it will probably happen for the rest of your life.

“You have to learn how to respond and come back from that and handle it the right way and just get back to work. At the time, I remember how devastated I was, but looking back it probably was a positive thing long term.”

Bennett wound up collecting two more Individual Finals titles, at 160 and 171 pounds, to end his high school career and then was named Mr. Wrestler, receiving the award given to the top senior wrestler by the state coaches association.

“I wasn't even thinking that I might get that,” he said. “There are so many great high school wrestlers that come out every year, and thinking about the guys I wrestled … to be singled out as the one chosen for that award was pretty special.”

After graduation, Bennett took his talents to Mount Pleasant. He could’ve gone anywhere to wrestle, but found the right fit at CMU.

“I knew I wanted to wrestle in college, and it was close to home, which I liked,” Bennett said. “I didn't feel like I had to go across the country to have an opportunity to accomplish my goals. I felt like I could stay here and do that.”

Bennett is the only four-time All-American in CMU history and one of three Chippewas to have earned four individual Mid-American Conference titles.

Bennett twice earned the Chick Sherwood Award as CMU’s most valuable wrestler and was named the MAC Wrestler of the Year in 2012. He also had earned the MAC Freshman of the Year Award in 2010.

Bennett ranks sixth in CMU history with 121 career victories, and his career win percentage of .834 is fourth all-time. In 2013, he finished 31-2 for a .939 win percentage, the second-best in program history. He also won a school-record 30 consecutive matches during that season and finished a personal-best fourth at the national tournament.

Bennett wrestles Clarkston’s Adam Lauzun for the Division 1 title at 171 pounds that season.“At the time I was disappointed with how my career went, because I was never a national champion,” Bennett said. “But I think looking back on it, I have a lot more appreciation for what I did.

“As a coach, I realize how hard it is to have success at the college level, and every year you see great wrestlers not make the podium. Sometimes I’m shocked when certain guys don’t place, and it makes me appreciate how hard it is to be a four-time All-American, let alone place one time or multiple times.”

The transition to the coaching side was a difficult process for Bennett, but he knew he wanted to mentor other wrestlers the way his former coaches did with him.

“You put so much into the sport and you realize how much time other people invested and how important it was for me to do well, and so I guess for me it was a hard transition to make,” Bennett said. “You’re so competitive and so focused on yourself, but then being able to help these guys improve, get better and hopefully accomplish their goals was something I was looking forward to doing.

“I had so many people help me do that, and then I was able to be in their shoes and give back to these guys.”

Coaching has kept him involved in a sport he loves.

“And I get to continue to learn and grow and develop in different areas, not just wrestling-wise,” he said. “I get to meet a lot of great people through wrestling and coaching. The guys who come through our program are pretty awesome people.

“I’m pretty fortunate, and I've really enjoyed the coaching side of it, being in the wrestling room with these guys. Getting them ready for a match and going over things after a match. There is a lot that goes into it, but I really enjoy it.”

The love of wrestling for Bennett began at 6 years old, when he was coached by his uncle Tom Bennett – a former Division III All-American – and dad Doug.

“My uncle did a ton for me wrestling-wise, and my dad was the conditioning and discipline-type guy,” Bennett said. “Together it was a good mix. For as long as I can remember, I was always in really good shape. I loved wrestling right away.”

Bennett admits that he probably missed out on a lot when he was younger because he was determined to be the best and his life revolved around wrestling and training.

“It can be a tough way to live, but at the time that's what I wanted to do so that's what I did,” Bennett said. “When I was little my dad always told me that I'm not going to take you across the country to these tournaments if we are not training to win the tournament, not going to fill out the brackets, so my whole life the goal was always to be a champion.

“Going into high school my goal was to be a four-time state champion. I wanted to win the senior nationals, the junior nationals, and I won all those things. Going into college, in my mind, the next step was to be a national champion, and I don't think you realize how hard it really is, and I don't think I realized how hard it was to be an All-American.”

Bennett was promoted to CMU associate head coach last June after spending nine seasons as an assistant. He said the biggest difference with his new position is on the administrative side.

“I do a lot of scheduling and budgeting, things I didn’t do as much before in my years as an assistant coach,” he said. “I’ve taken the reins on some of these things, and it’s good for me to learn.”

Bennett is content with his current role at CMU and continuing to evolve as a coach under Borrelli. However, he hopes to one day take that next step as the head coach of a collegiate program.

“That’s my ultimate goal with coaching,” he said. “When that will happen, I don’t know. I guess I’m not in a hurry. When it happens, it will happen. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can right now.

“Coach Borrelli is an unbelievable coach, leader, mentor and role model, so I’m trying to learn as much as I can from him and soak up as much as I can from him until I get an opportunity somewhere to be a head coach. Right now I'm happy with where I'm at, and when that time comes, it will come.”

Bennett, 33, is engaged to former Chippewas field hockey player Erica Garwood. The couple has been dating for seven years and will get married next month.

“We’re excited, and I’m sure life will really change when we start having kids,” Bennett said. “But it’s good right now. We both went to school here, and she has a good job at an elementary school in town. We enjoy it up here.”

2023 Made In Michigan

July 20: Oakridge 3-Sport Star Potts Applying Lessons to 'Second Chapter' in Sales - Read
July 18:
Frankfort Hoops Staff Bolstered by Past Stars Giving Back in Banktson, Kreski - Read
July 12:
Championship Memories, High School Tennis' Impact Stick with Hackett Pair - Read
July 6: 
Brother Rice Finals Hero Aiming to Ace Family Life, Financial World - Read
July 5:
Lapeer West 4-Time Finals Winner Set to Build Champions at Oklahoma - Read

PHOTOS (Top) Rockford’s Ben Bennett stands atop the podium at the 2008 Individual Finals, and now with fiancé Erica Garwood. (Middle) Bennett wrestles Clarkston’s Adam Lauzun for the Division 1 title at 171 pounds that season. (Current photo courtesy of Ben Bennett; 2008 photos from MHSAA Archives.)