Mason County Central's Quinn Wins for Team, Family, Community

By Drew Ellis
Special for Second Half

March 5, 2022

DETROIT – Standing across from Mason County Central’s Andrew Quinn on Saturday was the reigning Division 4 champion at 285 pounds, who also hadn’t lost in two seasons.

Despite a near-perfect record of his own, Quinn likely wasn’t the favorite to most. But he had other ideas.

The senior scored a reversal in the second period and quickly transitioned it into a pinfall against New Lothrop’s Isiah Pasik to earn his first MHSAA Finals title.

Dealing with a small team at Mason County Central, Quinn (51-1) credited the victory over Pasik (46-1) to his coaching staff, family, and friends who have all put time on the mat with him.

“I’ve got three older brothers up there watching me. They have pushed me my whole life,” Quinn said. “There’s tons of people that came to the wrestling room to help me out. We don’t have a big team, so I get to beat up on these guys (the coaches) every day. 

“There’s tons of people to thank. I didn’t do it alone.”

Champion: Logan Gilbert, Martin/Climax-Scotts, Fr. (41-6)
Decision, 10-5, over Logan Mears, Union City, Fr. (45-5)

Gilbert knew what he needed to do to come away with the 103-pound title.

Having faced Mears three previous times this season, and winning all three, he just stuck to his game plan.

“I was just trying to stop the switch on bottom. (Mears) loves to hit that, and he’s really good at it. In neutral, he likes to hit the slot, but I tried to tie him up with my right arm,” Gilbert said. “I was ready for him.”

Gilbert kept the pressure and scored five takedowns during the match.

“I don’t think it has hit me yet,” Gilbert said of winning a title. “I don’t know what I am feeling right now, but it feels good.” 

Champion: Jacob Bunn, Manchester, Sr. (46-2)
Decision, 5-2, over Trent Kimmel, Martin/Climax-Scotts, Sr. (37-3)

Making his fourth Finals appearance, Bunn finally got through to the top of the mountain.

“It’s something I have been working toward for 14 years now,” Bunn said. “I am just glad that I was able to get to the top in my senior year.”

It was a hard-fought win for the Manchester senior, as he held off a late surge from Kimmel.

“Even before the match, I just was thinking that it was another match and I couldn’t change up my style because it was a state final,” Bunn said. “I went out there and just didn’t let the pressure get to me and stayed focused.”

Champion: Shawn McGuire, Iron Mountain, Jr. (39-2)
Decision, 5-0, over Tyler Winch, Iron Mountain, Soph. (32-14)

It was a bittersweet championship victory for McGuire, the junior, as he dispatched of his Iron Mountain sophomore teammate for the title.

“It’s tough. It’s like your worst nightmare,” McGuire said. “I can never imagine going against my teammate, especially in a state final. It was difficult.”

McGuire controlled the match from start to finish, scoring a pair of takedowns and adding an escape while keeping Winch from getting on the scoreboard.

“It does feel great to be a champion. I’ve worked really hard for this,” McGuire said. “I’ve come close in the past and lost, but I just kept working toward this goal. It’s hard to put into words.”

Champion: Landyn Crance, Union City, Soph. (45-3)
Decision, 8-1, over Austin Marry, Hudson, Soph. (27-12)

As a freshman, Crance saw his chances at competing for a Finals title ended by COVID-19. This year, he made sure to make the most of his opportunity.

“Last year was devastating, having it all taken away from me because of COVID. But, I knew I just wanted to work harder this year to make up for it,” Crance said.

Crance started fast and never looked back, maintaining control of Marry throughout the six minutes.

“I knew I had to ride tight and stay on top,” Crance said. “I knew getting off the bottom would be difficult with (Marry), so I just had to keep control of him.”

Champion: Derek Mayle, Breckenridge, Sr. (38-3)
Major Decision, 14-1, over Dalton Birchmeier, New Lothrop, Fr. (31-13)

Mayle made sure his last match was one of his best.

The Breckenridge senior came within inches of a pinfall victory, but still came away with a 14-1 win.

“This was the last match of my life, so I just wanted to go out and have fun and end it on a bang,” Mayle said. “I wanted to make sure that I didn’t leave anything on the mat.”

Mayle overwhelmed Birchmeier, whom he had seen before in Regional competition. Still, the New Lothrop freshman fought hard to see the full six minutes.

“I was pretty confident, but I didn’t want to take the match lightly,” Mayle said. “I just needed to stay disciplined and keep attacking.”

Champion: River Roberson, Hesperia, Sr. (45-2)
Decision, 10-7, over Payton Rogers, Hudson, Sr. (33-7)

In one of the more back-and-forth matches of the Division 4 Finals, Roberson grinded out a 10-7 win.

“It’s hard to believe, but it’s an amazing feeling,” Roberson said. “I’ve worked so hard for this, it’s hard to believe it’s actually happened.”

Roberson found himself in a nearfall situation early in the match, but battled back to take control. Once he got it, he didn’t allow Rogers to get it back.

“When (Rogers) got the first takedown, it kind of made me nervous. But, I knew what I have been through to get here,” Roberson said. “My coaches put me through a lot of intense training to be ready for matches like this.”

Champion: Manus Bennett, Marlette, Jr. (43-0)
Decision, 2-0, over Bronson Marry, Hudson, Sr. (27-3)

In a matchup of two past champions, Bennett scored a takedown in the second period to find a way past Marry.

“A lot of it was just mental technique for me. I knew if I could get the takedown, I am really good at riding legs,” Bennett said. “I knew he was a good wrestler. I just had to not allow him to work his strengths, and find a way to work mine.”

The 103-pound champion in 2020, Bennett used his riding ability and endurance to hang on for his second title.

“Wrestling is the longest six minutes of your life. Two minutes can feel like years,” Bennett said. “Seeing that clock finally hit zero, it was a lot of relief.”

Champion: Sebastian Martinez, Riverview Gabriel Richard, Fr. (33-4)
Decision, 4-1, over Dillon Raab, Bark River-Harris, Jr. (34-3)

Martinez became the first Finals champion in the young history of the Gabriel Richard program by scoring a pair of key takedowns.

“I am starting a new legacy for future Pioneers coming to this school,” Martinez said of being the first champion. “This program is going to be something great, and I am just glad I got to be the first.”

Leading 2-1 entering the third period, Martinez didn’t get passive. He made an aggressive shot on Raab and earned a powerful takedown to lock up the victory.

“I was just trying to hold on, but the best defense is a great offense,” Martinez said. “I decided to take the shot in the third and managed to get the takedown to really secure the win.”

Champion: Parker Stroud, Iron Mountain, Sr. (41-6)
Decision, 11-9, over Josh Collins, Hemlock, Sr. (41-5)

Stroud ended his prep wrestling career with a championship, but wasn’t too thrilled with his performance in an exciting 11-9 victory over Collins.

“It feels pretty good, but I didn’t really wrestle my best. It takes a little away from it, but it still feels good to be a champion,” Stroud said.

Stroud was getting a number of takedowns, but Collins would respond with reversals and threaten to take the victory. It took an explosive takedown from Stroud to get the go-ahead points in the closing seconds.

“I was wrestling pretty well, but I wasn’t getting much done on top,” Stroud said. “I just managed to get the score in the end.”

Champion: Shenard Foster, Detroit Loyola, Sr. (17-0)
Decision, 5-4, over Gavin Wilmoth, Traverse City St. Francis, Sr. (39-3)

After losing in overtime of last year’s championship match, Foster was determined to not let that happen again this year.

The Detroit Loyola senior used his explosiveness and athleticism to top Wilmoth, last year’s 152-pound champion.

“It feels great. I fell short last year, so it feels great to win (a title) this year,” Foster said. “It motivated me a lot, because I knew I could do it.”

Foster was able to score two takedowns in the match while adding an escape. That’s all he needed, as Wilmoth was unable to get him to the ground.

“I just had to stay smart. I am used to wrestling guys that are taller than me. (Wilmoth) was my height, so I just had to be aggressive. I knew he couldn’t stop my shots,” Foster said. 

Champion: Cole Hopkins, Evart, Jr. (54-0)
Major Decision, 15-7, over Noah Etnyre, Lutheran Westland, Jr. (48-5)

Hopkins completed an unbeaten junior season and avenged his lone loss in the 2021 Finals by scoring a major decision in the 171-pound championship match.

“That is the greatest feeling in the world,” Hopkins said. “Since that day (last year’s loss), it’s been eating me alive. Every time I wake up, that’s what I have been thinking about and it made me go harder.”

It was all about the takedowns for Hopkins, as he repeatedly got Etnyre to the ground. He scored a quick takedown in the first and never trailed in the match.

“I just had to not wrestle scared,” Hopkins said. “I had been here before, so that gave me the confidence to wrestle that much harder and get the job done.”

Champion: Drew Allgeyer, Bark River-Harris, Jr. (40-4)
Decision, 9-5, over Cameron Kimble, Hudson, Sr. (43-2)

It wasn’t always easy for Allgeyer, but he led throughout the match to kick off the Division 4 Finals and earn his first championship.

“It feels amazing,” Allgeyer said. “I am on top of the world.”

Allgeyer secured some early takedowns, but Kimble put up a game effort with a reversal in the second period to keep things interesting. In the end, Allgeyer pushed a pace that Kimble couldn’t quite match.

“When I was warming up, I just kept telling myself that these six minutes were going to be mine,” Allgeyer said. “That’s the way that I wrestle every single match.” 

Champion: Caden Ferris, Delton Kellogg, Sr. (49-0)
Major Decision, 10-2, over Grayson Orr, New Lothrop, Jr. (47-6)

Caden Ferris will be a name the Orr family is likely never to forget.

The Delton Kellogg senior won a second consecutive title at 215 pounds with a dominant 10-2 win over Grayson Orr on Saturday.

Last year, Ferris defeated Grayson’s brother, Camden Orr, in the 215-pound final by a score of 13-11 in OT.

“It’s pretty cool,” Ferris said of winning another title. “I’m feeling pretty good about it. I was pretty focused on winning.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Mason County Central’s Andrew Quinn, standing, celebrates his win at 285 pounds Saturday at Ford Field. (Middle) Marlette’s Manus Bennett, top, works toward a win at 140 pounds. (Click for more from

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

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

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.”

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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.)