DETROIT – Ja'Marcus Smith felt an immense sense of pride Saturday after becoming the first wrestler from a Detroit Public School to win an Individual Wrestling Finals title.
But he doesn’t plan to be the last to do it.
“It means so much to me,” the Detroit Mumford senior said. “Everything I worked for my freshman year, my 10th-grade year, my 11th-grade year, it’s finally paying off. There’s going to be more than me. There’s going to be a whole ’nother generation.”
Smith defeated Lowell freshman Carter Cichocki (32-5) by pinfall in the 103-pound Division 2 final at Ford Field. Smith was leading 10-1 before getting the pin with two seconds remaining in the third period.
As the referee's hand slapped the mat, the crowd roared. Suddenly, a collection of wrestling fans from all parts of the state joined together in cheering the achievement.
Smith placed fifth at 112 pounds a year ago, and admitted that he felt some pressure to accomplish the feat for his school and city.
“Everybody was on my back about it,” Smith said with a laugh.
Champion: Jackson Blum, Lowell, Fr. (37-3)
Fall, 3:02 over Connor Greer, Bay City John Glenn, Fr. (40-1)
Blum was dominant before finishing off his freshman year with a pinfall victory.
“I don’t think I surprised myself,” Blum said. “Obviously, he’s a really good wrestler, undefeated this year and only a freshman. But, just the way that we’ve trained all year and our schedule, I’ve been the most prepared I’ve ever been for this match.”
Blum attacked early and often in the match, and had amassed enough points for the technical fall prior to getting the pin.
Champion: Nolan Wertanen, St. Joseph, Sr. (53-0)
Decision, 7-3, over Tee Ward, Fremont, Soph. (49-3)
It took a couple shots to the nose, and a wrap that covered most of his face to get it done, but Wertanen left Ford Field as a three-time champion.
“Going into this match, I knew I was going to have a tough match, as always. It’s the state finals,” Wertanen said. “I wanted to make a point that I’m dominant. Unfortunately, I’ve never wrestled not being able to breathe entirely, so that was tough. But I got the job done.”
Wertanen won at 112 pounds in 2021 and 103 in 2020.
“If you would have told me a long time ago when I would get in every MYWA tournament, when I would get pinned and I was hiding under the bleachers, that I would be a three-time state champion, I would have been stoked,” he said.
Champion: Owen Segorski, Lowell, Fr. (28-11)
Decision, 6-1, over Bryce Shingleton, Linden, Jr. (45-3)
Despite wrestling in his first Individual Finals and falling behind, Segorski was unfazed.
“I felt good the whole time,” Segorski said. “I was never scared. I knew he was going to back up and keep diving in, so I just wanted to keep going forward and stay in my stance.”
He trailed 1-0 heading into the third period, but an escape, takedown and nearfall secured the victory and an individual title to go along with Lowell’s team championship won last weekend.
Champion: Louden Stradling, Gaylord, Jr. (24-1)
Decision, 3-2 (2OT), over Ramsy Mutschler, Lowell, Sr. (31-6)
Stradling avenged a loss from the week before, and needed to hold on into the final seconds of the second ultimate tiebreaker period.
“Last week I wrestled Ramsy, and it was a really close one,” Stradling said. “I couldn’t open up on him because his defense is amazing. This week, I took it slow, I focused on how to get out on bottom from him, and me getting out on bottom changed the match.”
Mutschler scored an escape early in the first ultimate tiebreaker period, and entered the second with a 2-1 lead. Stradling scored a reversal midway through the second, and held on for his first title.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Stradling said. “I plan on doing it again, but this year meant a lot to me.”
Champion: Aaron Lucio, Stevensville Lakeshore, Jr. (54-0)
Decision, 7-4, over James Link, Lowell, Sr. (38-6)
A year after finishing second in the Finals, Lucio broke through, finishing off an unbeaten season with his first title.
“It means a lot,” Lucio said. “I knew I put the work in. I knew I could get it done. I knew that my coaches told me to stay tough in close matches, and if that would happen, I would win.”
Lucio scored an early takedown in the match, and never trailed, but he used a three-point third period to give himself some space before Link scored an escape in the final minute.
“More points were on the board than I thought,” Lucio said. “But as I opened up and I got to feel him and he could feel me, I knew I could get to his legs a lot easier.”
Champion: Jacob Brya, St. Johns, Sr. (42-0)
Decision, 1-0, over Carsen Richards, Goodrich, Sr. (45-3)
After a positive COVID-19 test ended his junior season and a potential run at four individual titles, Brya came into his senior season with something to prove – after a nudge from his dad.
“I was sitting around for a while, then my dad started yelling at me,” Brya said. “Ever since then I’ve been doing two-a-days and lifting all the time. I just feel like I have more motivation than I’ve ever had.”
Brya won at 112 pounds in 2020 and 103 in 2019. He held a slim 1-0 advantage in Saturday’s final, but rode Richards out to get the victory.
It was the third time the two had wrestled this season, and while each match was close, Brya was able to win the battle while on top, giving him the confidence to do it again.
Champion: Zamuel Thompson, Stevensville Lakeshore, Sr. (51-3)
Decision, 8-6, over Timmy Simons, Gibraltar Carlson, Jr. (37-4)
Thompson joined his sister, Sydney, of Eaton Rapids in winning a Finals title (110 pounds), becoming the first brother-sister combination to win MHSAA wrestling titles in the same season.
“It’s amazing,” Zamuel Thompson said. “I didn’t even know she was going to do it until three or four weeks ago. That made my day.”
In his own match, Thompson needed a third-period takedown to hold off Simons.
“I knew I shouldn’t have let him take me down in the first place,” Thompson said. “I was wrestling sloppy. Just conditioning we’re doing, I knew that in the end I would get him, there was no doubt in my mind. It was just a matter of when.”
Champion: Micah Hanau, Stevensville Lakeshore, Sr. (52-2)
Decision, 3-2, over Julius Polk, Pontiac, Sr. (36-2)
Hanau felt he was too reckless his junior season, which didn’t allow him to repeat as an individual champion.
But he was well under control Saturday as he was able to wrap up a second title.
“I feel great,” Hanau said. “I wrestled the match I wanted to. Last year, I didn’t do how I wanted because of how (out-of-control) my wrestling style was. I took time to control that, and I feel like I won the match I planned on winning.”
Hanau was the champion at 130 pounds in 2020.
Champion: Jacob Gonzales, Holly, Sr. (49-0)
Decision, 7-3, over William Bradley, Paw Paw, Sr. (51-2)
Gonzales became a three-time individual champion with his victory. The Holly senior won at 152 pounds in 2021 and 2020.
“It’s everything I wanted,” Gonzales said. “I wanted four, I had to settle for three, but history isn’t easy.”
Gonzales was in control for most of the match, but Bradley was able to put a little scare into the Holly fans near the end. Gonzales was less scared.
“I knew he was a funky wrestler,” Gonzales said. “I knew I was going to have to be flexible and ready for everything he threw at me, and I was.”
Champion: Brayden Gatreau, Gaylord, Jr. (42-1)
Major decision, 10-2, over Derek Badgley, Mason, Soph. (49-3)
Gatreau turned up the heat in the third period, making what was a tight match a major decision.
“I felt great,” he said. “I worked towards my cardio all season. I knew that, no matter what, I’m working harder than anybody else. At the end of the day, it comes down to who wants it more, and I want it more than anyone else in this state. No matter what time, I’m going to close out the match and I’m going to win it.”
Gatreau scored six points in the third period, including a takedown and nearfall during the final 20 seconds.
Champion: Adam Haselius, Jackson Northwest, Jr. (45-1)
Decision, 7-2, over Kael Wisler, New Boston Huron, Sr. (54-2)
Haselius won the match on his feet, getting three takedowns to Wisler’s zero. And as the match was ending, he was still pushing for a pin, despite having it wrapped up.
“Can’t let up, that’s letting the other guy into the match,” Haselius said. “I have to keep grinding no matter what the score is. It’s the feeling of accomplishment.
“This right here is what you work for. It feels so good to finally complete that goal. To finally reach that high point. I just wrestled my match; it’s a great feeling.”
Champion: Carter Blough, Lowell, Sr. (37-2)
Decision, 4-0, over James Campbell, Mattawan, Sr. (36-1)
As Blough walked off the mat following his first individual title, he was mobbed by his family.
“That’s crazy,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this since I was like 6. It couldn’t be any better. This is what I’ve been wanting since I started wrestling. This is the best moment of my life right here.”
Blough got an early takedown in the first period, and while there wasn’t much scoring afterward, he appeared to be in control throughout.
“I just had to be careful, cautious,” Blough said. “I was just being stingy on top. Just keeping my hips up so he couldn’t hit any big moves, and I knew the match was mine.”
Champion: Ira Jenkins, Whitehall, Sr. (51-0)
Fall 0:38, over Joshua Cook, Ferndale, Sr. (52-1)
Jenkins had a dominant run through the tournament, pinning each of his opponents, including the final three in the opening minute.
“I just knew I had to go out there and do what I do,” Jenkins said. “I was just taking it one thing at a time, and I guess that’s what it ended up being.”
It was the second-straight individual title for Jenkins, who pinned through the 285-pound bracket in Division 3 a year ago.
“Being able to pin through the state tournament two years in a row, that’s pretty cool, I think,” Jenkins said.
PHOTOS (Top) Detroit Mumford’s Jamarcus Smith works toward a pin in his 103-pound championship match Saturday at Ford Field. (Middle) St. Johns’ Jacob Brya maintains a hold on his way to winning at 140. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Years from now, when girls wrestling is no longer considered “new” but just part of every winter’s Michigan high school sports lineup, Eliana Bommarito must still be remembered among its first legendary MHSAA Finals champions.
The recent Hartland grad’s title at 255 pounds in March was among highlights of the Individual Wrestling Finals at Ford Field, which included a girls division for the first time. The state championship actually was Bommarito’s fourth – she’d also won titles her first three seasons at tournaments conducted by the Michigan Wrestling Association, before the MHSAA provided full sponsorship for a girls division last season for the first time. She's continuing her academic and wrestling careers at Indian Hills Community College in Iowa, which has won two straight women’s national championships.
"I’m really glad to have that opportunity to not only have girls wrestling be recognized in Michigan, but to be sanctioned alongside the boys this year, which was amazing.
"It feels like our sport is finally being recognized, and that girls wrestling is growing."
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
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