GRAND RAPIDS – Caden Ferris wanted family bragging rights.
His brother, Tyden Ferris, was a two-time runner-up at the MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals, so with a win Saturday at the Division 4 championship meet, Caden would have one up on big brother.
The Delton Kellogg junior won those bragging rights and his first title with a thrilling 13-11 overtime victory against 2020 champion Camden Orr of New Lothrop in the 215-pound Final at Van Andel Arena.
“I was obviously very tired, but I was counting on that he was more tired than me,” Ferris said. “I just guess I had more will to win.”
Ferris (33-2) trailed Orr 7-1 at one point, and 10-7 late in the third period before getting a pair of takedowns to send the match to overtime, where he secured the winning takedown. As he was trailing early, Ferris said his thoughts floated to the sibling rivalry.
“I gotta beat my brother in something,” Ferris said of his thoughts. “He never got first.”
Ferris, who has committed to Central Michigan, came into the meet as the top seed, as he technically already defeated Orr in the Regional Final. Orr (24-2) injury defaulted that match, however. Despite missing the opportunity to wrestle Orr in the Regional, Ferris knew what he was up against.
“I knew he liked to shoot, and my favorite move the underhook, and I know he likes the fireman that counters that,” said Ferris, who placed eighth at 215 pounds as a freshman but didn’t wrestle in the Finals as a sophomore. “I practiced a lot of defense, mostly offense.”
Champion: Connor Younts, Clinton, Fr. (28-2)
Decision, 5-0, over Loreto Frangedakis, Capac, Sr. (19-4)
Younts already had quite a start to his high school career, helping to lead Clinton to a Team Finals trophy this past Tuesday. Now he can add an Individual Finals title after a dominant performance.
He pinned his first two opponents on the day, before shutting out the final two, 10-0 in the semifinals and 5-0 in the Final.
“I’m just excited,” Younts said. “I had to work hard all season. I thought I was going to make it here, and I knew I was going to do good. I thought I was going to win, and I did.”
Younts was one of an MHSAA-record 11 Clinton wrestlers in the Finals.
Champion: Coy Perry, Clinton, Fr. (31-1)
Decision, 3-2, over Connor Busz, Clinton, Soph. (26-5)
Perry battled a leg injury and his own teammate to claim an individual title in his first season.
The two wrestled each other four times this winter, with Perry coming out victorious in each matchup. A third-period takedown was the difference in the latest bout.
“It’s been close every time,” Perry said. “It’s tough. When it gets down to this point, it’s very emotional. It’s on your own, too, because obviously (Clinton coaches) can’t coach, so it’s on pretty much both of us to determine what we do.”
Champion: Aydan Sturtevant-Roesly, Hesperia, Sr. (25-4)
Decision, 2-1, over Zak Shadley, Clinton, Soph. (28-5)
Sturtevant-Roesly wasn’t sure how his season would go after dislocating his kneecap and tearing a ligament in his knee.
It went pretty well.
After finishing seventh at 103 as a sophomore and sixth at 112 as a junior, he reached the top of the podium with a hard-fought victory.
“I’ve been through a lot this season,” Sturtevant-Roesly said. “I wasn’t sure how this season was going to play out for me, but I came out and we did it. It’s everything. I’ve been working for this for a long time, and I really wanted it today.”
Champion: Randy Frailey, Hanover-Horton, Sr. (29-0)
Decision, 3-2, over Nik Shadley, Clinton, Fr. (28-2)
Frailey has been on the podium before, finishing eighth at 119 in 2019, but he always envisioned himself at the top of it. Thanks to a late second-period takedown, it’s now more than a vision.
“It’s like nothing else,” Frailey said. “I’ve always imagined this moment in my head a billion times. It really lived up to it, and it’s just amazing.”
After Frailey’s victory, he was able to stand matside and watch his teammate, Chris Sorrow, claim his own title at 135.
“It’s just amazing,” Frailey said. “We really fuel each other – he helps me, I help him. We’ve come up together, so it’s indescribable.”
Champion: Jesse Brumm, Vermontville Maple Valley, Sr. (32-2)
Injury default, 3:45, over Bronson Marry, Hudson, Jr. (25-1)
Brumm had a 5-0 lead in the match before Marry was injured and unable to continue.
It was the fourth all-state finish for Brumm, who was third at 130 in 2020, sixth at 119 in 2019 and runner-up at 112 in 2018.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Brumm said. “I’ve worked hard, and I think I deserve it. It’s a miracle to me. I’ve done everything I could for it.”
Marry was making his third-straight Finals appearance, as he was the champion at 112 in 2020, and runner-up at 103 in 2019.
Champion: Christopher Sorrow, Hanover-Horton, Sr. (25-1)
Decision, 9-3, over Dillon Raab, Bark River-Harris, Soph. (33-2)
After placing sixth as a junior and seventh as a sophomore – both times at 135 – Sorrow decided to go big this year.
A seven-point third period, including five points from nearfalls, gave him his first Individual Finals title.
“I wasn’t necessarily going for that, but if I saw an opening where his weight shifted, I just took it as far as I could,” Sorrow said. “I’m ecstatic.
“Like (Frailey) said earlier, we’ve been training since sixth grade for this. To come here and accomplish this in our senior year together, back to back, is just a great feeling.”
Champion: Cole Stone, Carson City-Crystal, Jr. (32-2)
Major Decision, 9-1, over George Ames, Clinton, Jr. (27-1)
After finishing sixth at 140 pounds as a sophomore, Stone committed himself even more to wrestling this past offseason, and it paid off with a dominant performance in the Finals.
He earned a takedown in each period and added nearfall points in the third to claim his first title against previously unbeaten Ames.
“I’ve been working hard all year,” Stone said. “I wanted to leave it all out there. I had nothing to lose. It was a great match. I just went in and tried to attack as much as possible. To come from sixth last year as a sophomore to a state champion, it’s surreal. I couldn’t have even imagined this. I’ve visualized this moment multiple times, and the feeling is still there.”
Champion: Caden Natale, Hudson, Sr. (27-1)
Decision, 4-3, over Kent McCombs, Clinton, Jr. (29-3)
Natale was making his third appearance in the Finals, coming off a championship performance at 130 in 2020 and a runner-up finish at 119 in 2019.
While he was wrestling with torn ligaments in his right knee, he took inspiration from a friend who had passed away to fuel him in a hard-fought battle against McCombs, who was a runner-up at 145 a year ago.
“I lost a good friend not too long ago,” said Natale, who also had a third-place finish as a freshman. “I wore a shirt last year, wore a shirt this year. I got blood time and I was like, ‘I need to do this. It’s not just for me right now, it’s for him.’ It was an old club team of ours, Inflict Wrestling, and that’s what I do. I just keep going and I inflict damage, and I just pulled it out because I was just better on my feet.”
Champion: Gavin Wilmoth, Traverse City St. Francis, Jr. (34-1)
Major Decision, 14-2, over AJ Baxter, Clinton, Sr. (28-3)
Wilmoth took a giant leap forward this season, going from not making the podium as a sophomore, to Finals champion as a junior.
“He was someone standing in the way of my goal, and I had to beat him,” Wilmoth said. “I was coached up well for this match, and I just went out and hammered.
“It’s a relief. I’ve been looking forward to this since like seventh grade. It’s a weight off my shoulders, and it feels great.”
Baxter was also a runner-up at 103 as a freshman and fifth at 119 as a sophomore.
Champion: Spencer Konz, Clinton, Sr. (26-3)
Decision, 3-1 OT, over Shenard Foster, Detroit Loyola, Jr. (15-2)
In the third postseason matchup between the two, it was Konz who came away with the most important victory.
The match was tied at 1-1 deep into overtime, and the Clinton senior fought off a leg attack from Foster to come up with a takedown on the edge of the mat and get the victory.
“I just pulled his arm out and I felt the Merkel,” said Konz, who added his title to a pair of third-place finishes and an eighth-place finish in his career. “I grabbed it, and they gave me two for it.”
Foster is the only wrestler at Loyola, and finished seventh at 140 a year ago while wrestling for Harper Woods.
Champion: Brayden Randolph, Clinton, Sr. (31-1)
Decision, 8-3, over Cole Hopkins, Evart, Soph. (22-1)
After years of coming close, Randolph was able to add an individual title to his two team trophies. He finished as runner-up at 171 and 160 the past two seasons, and was third at 160 as a freshman.
He was dominant on his way to securing his title, pinning his first three opponents in 37 seconds, 1:19 and 2:33.
“This year I’ve been through so much, especially family-wise – I lost my grandpa in November,” Randolph said. “This one was for him. Just getting over adversity through COVID and all that, it means a lot to come out here and do what I love to do, and that’s wrestle.”
Champion: Logan Badge, Clinton, Jr. (32-1)
Decision, 3-1, over Hunter Belew, Delton Kellogg, Sr. (33-4)
Badge moved one step closer to becoming a four-time champion, as he wrapped up a dominant day with his third individual title.
He won at 189 as a sophomore and 215 as a freshman. On Saturday, he cruised to first-period pins in his first three matches, winning in 43 seconds, 1:22 and 1:12. Belew, who placed fifth at 171 as a junior, presented a different challenge, but one that Badge was able to overcome.
“Right now, just one more state title to go,” Badge said. “The team is going to be going good for the next couple years; we have a great program. It’s pretty sweet because the guys that are coming are going to help our lineup even more, and we have 11 in the Finals.”
Champion: Isiah Pasik, New Lothrop, Jr. (25-0)
Fall, 1:16, over Jake Fischer, Beaverton, Sr. (33-7)
Pasik moved up the podium with a dominant day. He cruised into the Finals with pins in 54 seconds, 3:35 and 1:41 before pinning Fischer in a rematch of the Regional Final.
In the championship match, Pasik was able to get an early takedown and take Fischer to his back in the opening minute before turning him again to earn the fall.
“I felt pretty good,” Pasik said. “I thought I wrestled pretty strong.”
Pasik was coming off a third-place finish at 285 as a sophomore.
PHOTOS: (Top) Delton’s Kellogg’s Caden Ferris, right, faces off with New Lothrop’s Cam Orr at the Division 4 Finals on Saturday at Van Andel Arena. (Middle) Detroit Loyola’s Shenard Foster, in blue, and Clinton’s Spencer Konz battle at 160 pounds. (Below) Clinton’s Logan Badge, right, gains control on the way to his third Finals championship. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
ROCKFORD – Ben Bennett knew from an early age what he wanted his career path to be.
“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.
“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.”
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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.)