AUBURN HILLS – A total of 56 individual wrestling champions were crowned Saturday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
One was St. Johns senior Taylor Massa – and he earned his own story after finishing his career without a loss.
But there were plenty of others to tell. Following is one for each of the 13 other weight classes, starting with 189 pounds – the opening weight at this season’s Individual Finals – plus a mention of all 56 champions. Click for full results.
Among the many Jordan Thomas thanked after winning his third MHSAA title was the one opponent who beat him at the Palace during the last four seasons.
Thomas and St. Johns’ Massa led the opening march Saturday, around the mats where Massa dealt Thomas that loss, in the 145-pound Division 2 Final when both were freshmen.
From that day on, Thomas lost only once more. And he capped his championship career by knocking off the reigning Division 2 champ at his weight. In one of the first matches of the day – and arguably the best – Thomas edged Lowell senior Gabe Dean 5-1.
“This being my last match ever, there’s no redemption after this, so I knew I had to get this win,” said Thomas, who will wrestle next season at the University of Michigan.
He finished 45-0 this season and 217-3 for his career despite taking off a month this season after tearing a knee ligament. That continued to slow him Saturday, but he had been building for a strong finish since the day he fell to Massa 5-2 – a match he said paid off through the rest of his Greenville career.
“At high school it’s not about the win and loss, it’s about getting better,” Thomas said. “And I feel like that improved me as a person and a wrestler so much. I don’t regret it a bit.”
Dean, who also quarterbacked Lowell's Division 2 runner-up football team, finished 30-4.
- Division 1: Kevin Beazley did one better on his 2011 1-0 championship loss at 171 by downing Temperance Bedford junior Brandon Sunday 6-0. The Detroit Catholic Central senior finished 45-1.
- Division 3: In a battle of one-loss juniors, Morley Stanwood’s Steven Malloy handed a second to Oscoda’s Donavon Fouchey, 7-6, to finish 46-1.
- Division 4: New Lothrop senior Austin Severn pinned Dansville senior Lantz Miller in 1:49 to win a second straight championship and finish 51-2.
Prescott Line’s wrestling career came to an end Saturday. This fall, he’ll join the Southern Methodist University football team.
But the Oxford senior finished in the best possible way – with his second straight MHSAA individual championship. Line defeated Wayne Memorial’s Dimitrus Renfroe 5-1 in the Division 1 Final after also winning at that weight in 2011.
“Wrestling made me a better person. … (It develops) mental toughness, and it works on your one-on-one competition a lot,” Line said. “It’s a great sport.”
Line finished 49-0 this season and 184-23 over his four-year high school career.
- Division 2: Holly senior Shawn Scott finished a 52-0 season with a 3-1 win over St. Johns junior Payne Hayden.
- Division 3: Buchanan junior Gage Hutchison finished a 57-0 season by pinning Comstock Park senior Tyler Gruszka in 1:03.
- Division 4: St. Ignace junior Joe Ostman edged Springport senior Joe Ericson 4-3 to win the title and move to 44-0 this season. Ericson had just one loss entering the Final.
Fowlerville junior Adam Coon showed the result of moving up to 285 pounds this season after winning two MHSAA titles at 215. His Division 2 championship match ended with his tongue and lips spotted with blood.
But the result that mattered most remained the same – Coon won his third championship, 7-4 over Mason senior Adam Robinson, and will go into next season hoping to become the 17th wrestler in MHSAA history to win four Finals titles.
Coon faced Robinson four times this season on the way to finishing 50-0.
“Of course, at the state finals it’s going to be a little aggressive. So maybe there were head butts in there for both sides,” Coon said. “But you know what? That’s what wrestling is. It’s aggressive. … You’ve got to be able to take those.”
- Division 1: Rochester Hills Stoney Creek senior Nick Gajdzik became his school’s first champion and capped a 46-0 season with a 2-1 win over Temperance Bedford senior Logan Rimmer – who had only one loss heading into the Final.
- Division 3: Lakewood senior Garrett Hyatt finished his high school career by pinning Dundee junior Josh Marogen in the title match in 1:48. Hyatt was 46-3 this winter.
- Division 4: Hesperia senior Brett Martin capped a 53-0 season by outlasting Whittemore-Prescott freshman Ryan Prescott in a 4-3 decision.
Carson City-Crystal junior Kenneth Dittenber is getting used to finishing his season with a win. He’s ended the last two with an MHSAA Division 4 title at 103 pounds.
But Saturday’s clincher had a different spin. In 2011, Dittenber won his Final 5-4. This time, he pinned Shelby junior Austin Felt 56 seconds into the second period. It was a much better reward for a season filled with higher expectations.
“I just practiced a lot harder. I knew I was going to have a target on my back as a state champ last year,” Dittenber said. “I just wanted to wrestle everybody like I should."
- Division 1: Davison freshman Lincoln Olson capped a 46-0 season with a 16-5 major decision over Grand Haven freshman Camden Bertucci.
- Division 2: Goodrich senior Isaac Jewell closed his career with an 8-1 championship win over Hamilton junior Collin Welcher. Jewell finished 45-5 this winter.
- Division 3: Ida freshman Dakota Ball improved to 46-4 with a 2-0 win over Caro junior Shane Herrman.
Temperance Bedford junior Mitch Rogaliner had one opponent on his most wanted list this weekend. And he got his wish, drawing Holt’s Shayne Wireman in a Division 1 Semifinal.
Wireman had beaten Rogaliner 2-1 in last season’s 103-pound Final. But Rogaliner got him back Friday with a third-period pin before earning a 9-5 decision over Canton sophomore Ben Griffin in Saturday’s Final.
Rogaliner said he knew if he could beat Wireman, the championship should be his as well – and he used lessons learned last season to finish the run.
“You can’t let the nerves get to you. You can’t just go out there scared,” Rogaliner said. “You just have to lay it all out on the mat, and hope that your all can win it for you.”
Rogaliner finished 46-2 this winter.
- Division 2: St. Johns sophomore Zac Hall won his second MHSAA title, this time with an 8-1 win over Lapeer West junior Dean Somers. Hall finished 43-1 this season.
- Division 3: Remus Chippewa Hills junior Zack Cooper also won his second MHSAA title, improving to 60-2 this season with a 7-2 win over Allendale junior Luke Jensen.
- Division 4: Decatur senior Luke Bell improved to 54-10 this season and won the 200th match of his career in pinning Erie Mason freshman Logan Griffin in 2:38.
Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern senior Tim Lambert had picked up a reputation as the best wrestler in Michigan never to win an MHSAA title.
He doesn’t have to hear that one anymore.
Lambert – who crushed the 200-career win milestone earlier this season – finished with one more, getting a takedown just before the buzzer to beat St. Johns freshman Logan Massa 5-3 in overtime. The Division 2 championship is the first for a Forest Hills Eastern wrestler, and capped a 58-0 finish for Lambert this season.
“There was definitely a lot of pressure. But I just came out to win, whether it was by two points or 10,” he said. “Logan’s a very tough wrestler. He’s going to have a great career. I knew it was going to be a grind until the end, no matter what. And that’s what it was.”
- Division 1: Davison sophomore Justin Oliver won his second MHSAA title and finished 44-2 this season with a 3-1 win over Hartland sophomore Austin Eicher.
- Division 3: Richmond senior Stephen Ireland edged Lake Fenton senior Todd Melick 10-7 to finish 24-3 this winter.
- Division 4: After losing in a championship match last season, Hudson sophomore Cole Weaver earned his first MHSAA title with a 6-0 win over Hesperia sophomore Zack Yates. Weaver was 51-0 this season.
Comstock Park senior Nick Ross admitted Saturday he came into this season overconfident after winning last season’s Division 3 championship at 119 pounds.
But that overconfidence dissolved with two losses and a fourth-place finish in Comstock Park’s first tournament – and was replaced by more intense practice and extra workouts.
Ross never lost again. He capped a 49-2 season Saturday with an 8-4 win over Ida senior Dan Sorter.
“It was a great wake up call. I wanted to real quick,” Ross said of rebounding from the early losses.
“The second (MHSAA title) is definitely tougher. You’ve got a big old ‘X’ on your head. Everyone is after you.”
- Division 1: After losing by a point in last season’s Final, Howell senior Alex Calandrino beat Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central senior Mitch Hrnyak 8-4 and finished the season 42-1.
- Division 2: St. Johns junior Jacob Schmitt, a runner-up last season, beat Holly junior Mason Cleaver 11-1 to finish 46-2.
- Division 4: Watervliet sophomore Brock Thumm outlasted Marlette senior Matt Mata, handing Mata his first loss with a 10-9 decision that improved Thumm to 47-5.
Detroit Catholic Central junior Ken Bade knew what was necessary to win big at this season’s Finals.
Last season he earned the title at 125 in part by surviving two one-point decisions. But this time, he advanced with two technical falls and a pin before downing Oxford sophomore Mike Willits 6-1 in the Final.
“I said it earlier in the tournament: It’s all confidence and not cockiness. And you just need to work as hard as you possibly can,” said Bade, who finished 50-1. “This week was the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life.
“There was only one goal in mind and that was a state championship, and I got it done.”
- Division 2: Holly junior Anthony Gonzales scored at least 10 points for the third straight match, this time outlasting Allegan sophomore Kyle Simaz in a 10-9 decision. Gonzales finished 48-3.
- Division 3: Otsego senior Alberto Lopez won his second straight nail-biter, following an overtime Semifinal victory with a 3-2 title-clincher over Fremont senior Theron Blake. Lopez finished 51-2.
- Division 4: New Lothrop junior Jacob Perrin moved to 52-3 with a 5-3 win over Niles Brandywine junior Chanc Ravish.
Traverse City St. Francis senior Isaiah Schaub and White Pigeon senior John Tullos both entered Saturday’s Division 4 Final with one loss apiece.
But Schaub also already had one MHSAA championship. He added a second with an 11-4 decision capped by a final three points just before the third-round buzzer.
“I kept on attacking,” Schaub said. “It’s not like I haven’t. I just kept on attacking like Coach told me to.”
Schaub finished 51-1. He also won at 130 pounds in 2011.
- Division 1: Canton sophomore Alec Pantaleo defeated Detroit Catholic Central sophomore Malik Amine 9-6 to finish the season 53-3.
- Division 2: St. Johns junior Brant Schafer, the runner-up at 125 last season, handed Muskegon Reeths-Puffer senior Cody Stenberg his first loss, 10-8 in overtime. Schafer finished 37-1.
- Division 3: Richmond freshman Devin Skatzka opened his high school Finals career by edging Leslie sophomore Zehlin Storr 5-4 to finish 44-8.
St. Johns junior Ben Whitford already had won two Illinois individual championships, and helped St. Johns to an MHSAA team title last weekend.
He finished his first season back in Michigan by beating the same opponent he faced in the team Final – Lowell senior and reigning individual champion Gabe Morse.
Whitford handed Morse just his second loss of this season, 11-4. A week ago, Whitford beat Morse 11-9.
“In the first match, I kept getting out of position. That’s how he was able to score,” Whitford said. “This time, (I stayed) in a good position, had to stay on his head, get him tired, keep working him.”
Whitford finished 37-0. Morse finished 40-2.
- Division 1: Portage Central senior Angelo Latora capped his career with a 3-1 win over Jenison senior Trent Samuels. Latora finished the season 53-1.
- Division 3: Richmond senior Garett Edwards handed Fremont junior Johnny Wiggers his first loss, 6-5 in overtime. Edwards finished 48-6.
- Division 4: New Lothrop junior Clayton Simons added his second-straight MHSAA title and moved to 33-5 for the season with a 7-2 win over Reading senior Nick Rubley.
Midland Bullock Creek senior Scott Flowers admitted it would’ve been nice to face a different opponent in Saturday’s Final than Hemlock senior Justin Tomasek.
They both came from the Tri-Valley Conference Central, and the championship match was their fourth against each other this season. Flowers won this time 4-0 to even their record against each other to 2-2.
“If I don’t know (what an opponent) is going to do, I can wrestle my own style instead of changing my style to fit his style,” Flowers said. “(But) it also helped too.”
Flowers, who posted a third place in 2011, finished 51-7. Tomasek finished 45-4.
- Division 1: Flint Carman-Ainsworth senior Jake Weissend closed out a 58-0 season with a 1-0 decision over Portage Central sophomore Dominic Latora.
- Division 2: Allegan senior Taylor Simaz capped his career and a 57-1 season with his second MHSAA title. He beat Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern senior Gabe Stepanovich 15-5 after also claiming the 125-pound championship in 2010.
- Division 4: Addison junior Jared Bruner edged Springport freshman Jacob Cooper 4-2 to finish 36-5.
Saturday’s Division 1 152-pound Final was one of the most anticipated of the entire Individual Wrestling Finals. And not because Brighton junior Aaron Calderon was on the card.
Detroit Catholic Central senior Alec Mooradian was seeking to become only the 16th wrestler in MHSAA history to win four individual championships. Instead, Calderon won his first – and became part of history for what he didn’t allow to happen.
Mooradian scored first before Calderon hung on and spun out of a late potential takedown to win 3-2.
“I wasn’t too worried because he had everything to lose and I had everything to gain. That kinda helped take all the pressure off,” Calderon said. “I just thought, he was just another kid my age. I can be just as strong. I can be just as fast. I can be just as good.”
Calderon finished this season 56-2. Mooradian ended 44-3.
- Division 2: Lowell senior Andrew Morse won his second MHSAA championship and closed out a 34-0 season with a 4-2 win over St. Johns senior Travis Curley.
- Division 3: Lakeview senior Jordan Betham improved to 56-2 this season with a 14-6 win over Dundee junior Todd Olson.
- Division 4: Hudson senior Joel Varney finished his high school career with his second straight MHSAA title thanks to a pin in 2:20 of Sand Creek junior Nick Garza. Varney finished 47-2.
The only disappointment on Hudson senior Devan Marry’s MHSAA championship resume came last season, when he lost in the 160-pound Final after previously winning titles at 152 and 135.
On Saturday, he made sure to pick that one up too.
Marry also has been a big part of four MHSAA team championships. So make that seven total for the future Eastern Michigan wrestler, who claimed his last with a 10-4 decision over Sand Creek senior Sam Mehan – who beat Marry 7-5 in last season’s 160 Final.
“It’s that much more special to go out on a last hurrah,” Marry said. “I’m just happy to have such good classmates and all the classes below me coming together. Not only did it show last weekend, but it showed here how hard we work and how it finally pays off at the end.”
Marry finished 47-2. Mehan finished 52-2.
- Division 1: Davison sophomore Jordan Cooks defeated Grand Blanc senior Christian O’Guinn to finish the winter 34-2.
- Division 2: St. Johns senior Jordan Wohlfert closed his career with a second straight MHSAA title, this time thanks to a 16-5 win over Allegan senior Andrew Kelley. Wohlfert finished 47-1.
- Division 3: Napoleon senior Lelund Weatherspoon capped his senior season with his second straight MHSAA title, defeating Grant senior Ryan Connell to improve to 49-1. Weatherspoon won 152 in Division 4 last season.
Click for a separate piece on St. Johns’ Taylor Massa and his perfect high school career.
- Division 1: Detroit Catholic Central sophomore Drew Garcia outlasted Utica Eisenhower junior Charlie Myers in a 5-2 decision that pushed Garcia’s final record to 43-3.
- Division 3: Comstock Park senior Dillon Francisco improved to 52-1 in handing a major decision to Houghton Lake junior Dalton Bailey, 11-0.
- Division 4: St. Ignace junior Galloway Thurston won an 8-2 decision over Shelby senior Mason Courtright to finish this season 52-2.
PHOTO of Greenville's Jordan Thomas. See more photos from the Finals and all season at High School Sports Scene.
DUNDEE – How do you replace a legendary coach?
For the Dundee Vikings wrestling program, it takes two.
Nate Hall and Garrett Stevens opened practice last week as the new co-coaches of the ultra-successful Dundee wrestling program, taking the reins from Tim Roberts, one of the winningest coaches in state wrestling history.
“From day one, we’ve done a really good job of pushing each other and staying focused,” Stevens said. “The kids have been getting after it. Things are going well.”
Dundee’s wrestling program is a rich one. Roberts stepped down with a state-record 10 MHSAA Finals titles over his 23 seasons as head coach. In all 23 of those years, Dundee won District championships, and in 22 of those 23 years the Vikings won Regional titles. Roberts not only accumulated 10 Finals championship trophies, but he also won more than 500 dual matches.
Hall and Stevens have coached together for several years on the Dundee staff. Now they are dividing up duties and looking to start the next era of Vikings wrestling.
“We know what we are up against,” Hall said. “We have a strong tradition to keep on. We understand two people going at it is probably the better route.”
The move is not without precedent. In the conference that Dundee competes in – the Lenawee County Athletic Association – Clinton had co-coaches lead the Redwolves to the Division 4 championship two seasons ago. Division 3 powerhouse Richmond has utilized co-coaches in the sport as well.
“We sort of applied together,” Stevens said. “We thought we could do this.”
Dundee Athletic Director Ross Crow said he was hesitant at first to consider the co-coach idea, but after meeting with both realized it could work.
span>“After sitting down with them and having a lengthy discussion, I realized they have an extremely organized and articulated plan as to how they are carrying the torch moving forward,” Crow said. “Whenever I have a question, I either text or e-mail both of them on a group thread. They both chime in and more often than not, the answer is exactly the same for both of them. It's a really good fit, as they are close friends and have no egos.”
Stevens is a 2007 Dundee graduate. He wrestled for Roberts. His dad was a Dundee wrestler as well, graduating in the 1970s. Stevens brings his connection to the Dundee wrestling community to the table as well as years of coaching experience.
Hall is from nearby Blissfield, where he was an all-state wrestler. He wrestled for Grand Valley State’s club program and was a coach there as well. He returned to southeast Michigan to coach with his father – Adrian Madison head coach Scott Hall – and joined the Dundee staff when he became a physical education teacher at the middle school about five years ago.
As co-head coach, Nate Hall handles a lot of the organizational duties, especially anything involving the school district, since he works there. Stevens brings a technical side of the sport with him.
The duo believe they can make it work because of the chemistry between them.
“I was always more of a technical wrestler,” Stevens said. “I think Tim (Roberts) felt I could help connect with the kids and teach them how to do a few things differently.
“After I graduated from high school, I got away from wrestling for a while, but in 2011, Tim reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get back involved and it seemed like a no-brainer. I missed it. I liked being around him and there were some things I could bring to the table. I was chomping at the bit once the opportunity opened for me.”
Stevens said Roberts was wonderful to learn from because he was such a great person and sought out input from his staff.
“Tim’s approach to coaching was unique,” Stevens said. “He’s very open-minded and understands there is so much more to learn. You constantly want your kids and program to grow. Every year I coached with him, he changed something every year. He was constantly modifying, tweaking, and seeking out help and advice from others.”
Hall likes how things have started.
“It’s going very well so far,” Hall said. “Tim didn’t leave the well dry. He’s got an established program and an established wrestling community that has been supportive of both Garrett and I so far.
“We’ve got a tremendous senior class – three state champions and another kid that was third in the state last year. Their leadership is really going to be a huge aspect of our success this year.”
The Vikings also have 14 freshmen.
“We’ve hit the ground running,” Hall said. “We provide a lot of opportunities in the offseason for kids to get into the wrestling room and stay active. Most of our guys are active throughout. The freshmen are a real promising group that we can keep the ball rolling,” Hall said.
The veterans in the wrestling room include Kaden Chinavare, a Central Michigan University signee who won an Individual Finals title as a sophomore; Aiden Davis, a two-time Finals champ headed to Bucknell; and Braeden Davis, a Penn State University recruit looking for a fourth consecutive Finals title in 2023.
“The biggest thing with this group, I would say, is their willingness to push each other in the right manner,” Hall said. “We’ve got a lot of successful individuals, and they are already going out of their way to make sure each person around them is getting the most out of their reps they can get.
“The team chemistry is already a big part of it.”
Both coaches admit there is pressure to maintain a program that is not just known at the state level, but nationally.
“If you’re not feeling that pressure, maybe you’re not taking it as seriously as it needs to be taken,” Hall said. “We are here to help kids accomplish their goals, and pressure is a part of that – especially at the elite level a lot of our wrestlers want to compete at.”
Despite the turnover in coaching, Dundee’s goals remain high.
Dundee opens with the Grappler Gold, will go to Davison, then compete at a big invitational in Ohio. They Vikings will compete at Detroit Catholic Central and the Hudson Super 16 in late January.
“We always want to aim high,” Stevens said.
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Nate Hall, left, and Garrett Stevens walk together during the opening march at an MHSAA Team Finals; retired coach Tim Roberts is behind them, waving. (Middle) Stevens, top, and Hall stand with their retired coach and mentor at various events. (Below) Stevens and son Brady, and Hall and daughter Kimberly, celebrate the 2020 championship. (Top and below photos by Kathy Killion.)