Hamdan Brings More History to Hudson

March 2, 2019

By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half

DETROIT – A humble Jordan Hamdan pinned his place in wrestling history Saturday evening at Ford Field. 

The Hudson senior became the 25th four-time MHSAA Finals champion when he pinned New Lothrop's Logan Zell in 54 seconds in their Division 4 135-pound title match.

He also became his storied program's first four-timer.

"This is pretty cool; it's a big honor," Hamdan said. "To see all these greats do this before me, I have looked up to them since I was really, really small."

Hamdan, who will wrestle at Michigan State next season, made easy work of the competition this weekend, pinning two of his opponents and beating the other two by technical fall.

"This is a bit overwhelming, a lot to take in," said Hamdan, who also has three team Finals titles on his impressive resume. "I did feel a little bit of pressure, but I would treat this just like I would in the practice room."


Champion: Brayton Mears, Union City, Fr. (36-4)
Decision, 4-2 (OT), over Bronson Marry, Hudson, Fr. (33-9)

Mears had come close to winning state titles in his youth wrestling days, but was never able to get to the top of the podium. 

It took a trip to the high school sport's biggest stage to finally break through. 

"I've taken second, third, fourth and fifth, and now I finally got to win one," Mears said. "I came out here to wrestle my best match, and I think I did and I got the win."


Champion: Ben Modert, Bronson, Jr. (52-2)
Decision, 7-0, over Nolan Datema, Carson City Crystal, Sr. (45-2)

It is hard to lose when you don't give up a point.

That is what Modert accomplished this weekend on his way to winning his second straight title. 

He did not surrender a point to his four opponents, capping it off by beating Datema in the final, 7-0.

"I made sure I stayed in control and wrestled as smart as I could," Modert said. "My goal this whole weekend was to not give up any points, and I accomplished that. I just tried to dominate as much as I could."


Champion: Robbie Altland, Hart, Sr. (49-1)
Decision, 4-2 (2OT), over Caden Natale, Hudson, Soph. (26-5)

It is never one person who is responsible for molding a state champion. 

It is a process, and Altland made sure he thanked all who helped him win Saturday.

"Hard work, dedication, my teammates and my coaches got me here," Altland said. "And I have great supporters who all helped me get here. It has been a long run, but worth it."


Champion: Noah Comar, Clinton, Sr. (51-1)
Decision, 8-2, over Noah Cantu, Hart, Sr. (48-2)

Comar has a hard time looking back, but reflection helped get him back on top of the podium.

Two years ago the Clinton senior won a title, but he fell in a final last year. 

"I think (last year's loss) pretty much drove me," Comar said. "I came here this year to have fun and score points. I had a good tournament this year."

Comar finished his weekend with two pins, a technical fall and Saturday's decision.


Champion: Jamison Ward, Carson City Crystal, Jr. (48-1)
Decision, 2-0, over Jacob Shelby, Manchester, Jr. (47-6)

A couple of heart-breaking trips to the Finals helped pave the way for Ward to win his first title. 

Two years ago he was a finalist, but was handily beaten 10-0. Last year he fell in the semifinals, so this year he was not going to take anything for granted. 

"I have been dreaming of this since I was a little kid," Ward said. "Losing two years ago in the finals 10-0, it never gets out of your head. Just being there and being so close. And then last year I thought I would make my way back to the finals again, and I got upset in the semis, so this year I would not let that happen."


Champion: Skyler Crespo, Mendon, Jr. (50-1)
Major Decision, 13-0, over Ryan Wehner, Bad Axe, Sr. (40-6)

Crespo looks very comfortable wrestling on his sport's biggest stage in the state.

The Mendon junior cruised to his third straight Finals championship. And now Crespo is on the brink of history, as he will try to become a four-time champion next year.

"I felt great this weekend," Crespo said. "I felt like no one could even touch me. I only gave up two points all weekend off of cuts – no one even came close to me."

And it is that confidence that has Crespo thinking about history next year. 

"I'm looking forward to getting back and getting better," Crespo said. "I want to get better now, because that four is so close and I have been waiting for that so long."


Champion: Austin Wolford, New Lothrop, Sr. (36-3)
Injury default over Kyle Black, White Pigeon, Sr. (45-3)

This is not how Wolford wanted to end his high school wrestling career, even though it meant winning his second straight championship.

Wolford was visibly shaken as his opponent, White Pigeon's Black, had to be taken off the mat on a stretcher after suffering what appeared to be a knee injury.

"I have no words. I just feel bad for what happened," Wolford said. "That is not the outcome that I wanted. I won, but that is not what I wanted. That was not a state championship match."


Champion: Andy Simaz, Traverse City St. Francis, Jr. (42-2)
Decision, 6-4 (OT), over Jorge Sereno, Hudson, Sr. (35-12)

A spent Simaz laid sprawled on the turf at Ford Field after what he had just accomplished. 

The Traverse City St. Francis junior had battled his way to an overtime win over Sereno, and he had a hard time finding the words to describe his thrill.

But he knew in his head the thrill was coming. 

"I feel really good," Simaz said. "In overtime I tried that high crotch (takedown) and got sprawled out and I reached for a double leg and I told myself there that I was going to be a state champ. In my head I told myself that I would be a state champion there."


Champion: Braxton Seida, Carson City-Crystal, Sr. (43-2)
Decision, 4-2, over Brayden Randolph, Clinton, Soph. (43-2)

Seida knew he had two very excited fans when he walked off the mat with a title in hand. 

He could almost hear the cheers from the Ford Field stands. 

"I have been working for this my whole life, and this is the best thing that has ever happened to me," Seida said. "My dad (Phil Seida) was going crazy up there, and he is definitely appreciative. And my grandpa (Eric Seida), he kept telling me that this was the best part of his life. I did this for him because he wanted me to for the last four years."


Champion: Carson Scroggie, Sand Creek, Sr. (41-2)
Decision, 4-3, over Brock Nelson, Leroy Pine River, Jr. (47-3)

Scroggie did what he does best, and that is wrestle on his feet. It was a takedown that was the difference in his one-point win over Nelson.

Scroggie became Sand Creek's second Finals champion.

"This feels amazing," Scroggie said. "My coaches kept me in the neutral position because they know I am good on my feet. So I did what I do best and got the takedown, and I knew there was short time after that so all I had to do was just lay on him."


Champion: Ethan Weatherspoon, Napoleon, Sr. (53-0)
Decision, 3-2, over Kyle Cassiday, Beaverton, Sr. (51-2)

In one of the most anticipated matches of the Division 4 Finals, a pair of returning champions took to the mat at 189 pounds

Reigning D4 189-pound champion Cassiday was taking on last year's Division 3 champion in the weight class, Weatherspoon. Napoleon moved into Division 4 this year, setting up this epic battle. 

And just like when these two met earlier in the year, a 1-0 win by Weatherspoon, it came down to one point.

"That was good, it was tough, but I got the W," Weatherspoon said. "My grind, my work ethic, being aggressive in the match, that helped me win today."


Champion: Logan Badge, Clinton, Fr. (35-2)
Decision, 6-3, over Tim Rizor, Leroy Pine River, Jr. (45-3)

Not often do you see a freshman excel at a heavier weight class. Size, strength and experience, those usually come out on top when the larger wrestlers hit the mat. 

That makes what Badge has done all year, and again Saturday, so special. 

"I feel good," Badge said. "I got a good warmup with my warmup partner, and I wrestled well."

And what is nice for Badge, he gets to celebrate this week after his team fell short to Hudson in the Team Final a week ago.

"I thought we could have performed better a team states," Badge said. "But a lot of us redeemed ourselves here with 11 placing."


Champion: River Fox, Schoolcraft, Sr. (53-2)
Decision, 7-1, over Jake Renfer, Manton, Sr. (49-4)

Fox made Schoolcraft history Saturday night.

He became the school's first Finals champion. 

"I feel pretty good about this," Fox said. "I just felt comfortable with my moves. I just kept trying to score points and move the match."

Click for full results.

PHOTO: Hudson’s Jordan Hamdan was selected as one of the flag-bearers for the Finals’ opening march Saturday at Ford Field, before going on to win his fourth MHSAA individual title. (Click for more from 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.)