Preview: More than 1,100 Contenders Converge at Individual Finals at Ford Field

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

March 3, 2023

More than 1,100 wrestlers begin their pursuit today of championships at the MHSAA’s Individual Finals.

By Saturday evening, 70 will climb to the top of the podium as title winners across five divisions, including a girls division for the second season.

Four wrestlers  Davison's Josh Barr and Caden Horwath, Dundee's Braeden Davis and Detroit Catholic Central's Dylan Gilcher will attempt to join 31 others who have won four Finals championships.

The Grand March on Friday begins at 10 a.m., with wrestling through semifinals this evening. Wrestling begins again at 9 a.m. Saturday with championship matches at 3:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at Ford Field. All matches will be broadcast live on, and we’ll talk to all 14 champions in each division for our coverage published later that evening and overnight. See the Wrestling page for more information and to follow results this weekend.

Following are glances at just some of the many likely contenders who will compete this weekend:

Division 1

113 Conor McAlary, Hudsonville sophomore (24-3) Last season’s champion at 103 pounds is a combined 69-4 over the last two.

120 Caleb Weiand, Macomb Dakota senior (43-0) – Last season’s champion at 112 and the 2021 runner-up at 103 has only one loss combined over the last three seasons and is a top seed this weekend. He has committed to Michigan State.

132 Drew Heethuis, Detroit Catholic Central senior (49-1) – The top seed at this weight will wrestle for a third individual championship after winning 112 as a sophomore and 119 as a junior. He has committed to Princeton.

126 Caden Horwath, Davison senior (18-1) – Another top seed, he’ll be wrestling for his fourth championship with previous titles at 103, 119 and 125. He’s signed with Michigan.

144 Clayton Jones, Detroit Catholic Central senior (45-3) – He’s seeking a second-straight title after winning his first at 130 pounds last season.

147 Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central junior (32-3) – The top seed at this weight is seeking his third championship to go with his previous at 145 and 152 the last two seasons.

150 Dylan Gilcher, Detroit Catholic Central senior (28-0) – He’s top-seeded and also wrestling for a fourth championship after winning 112 as a freshman, 135 as a sophomore and 140 as a junior. He has signed with Michigan.

175 Josh Barr, Davison senior (29-0) – One more four-championship hopeful in Division 1, he won 152 as a freshman, 160 as a sophomore and 171 last year and is top-seeded this weekend. He has signed with Penn State.

2022 runners-up: 120 Ozia Wilson, Macomb Dakota sophomore (31-6, 103 last year); 120 Mariano Lopez, Holt senior (36-4, 112 last year); 132 Elijah Bunn, Rockford senior (47-2, 130 last year); 138 Justin Gates, Davison junior (30-2, 119 last year); 144 Evan Herriman, Davison senior (28-4, 140 last year); 165 Tatum Bunn, Detroit Catholic Central senior (36-12, 152 last year); 190 Brayden Mirjavadi, Romeo senior (48-4, 160 last year).

Additional No. 1 seeds: 106 Wyatt Lees, Detroit Catholic Central (38-10); 113 Bohdan Abbey, Hartland freshman (40-3); 138 Justin Gates, Davison junior (30-2); 144 Evan Herriman, Davison senior (28-4); 165 Cameron Adams, Detroit Catholic Central senior (31-4), 190 Ryan Ahern, Rockford junior (46-2); 215 Connor Bercume, Detroit Catholic Central sophomore (45-4); 285 Owen Hawley, Livonia Franklin senior (51-0).

Also undefeated: 150 Cole Schelb, Midland senior (45-0); 157 Justin Gorman, Grandville senior (41-0).

Division 2

120 Jackson Blum, Lowell sophomore (35-3) – The top seed at his weight is pursuing his second championship after debuting last year with a title at 112.

126 Bryce Shingleton, Linden senior (42-2) – Last season’s runner-up at 125 will attempt to close his career with his first championship and Linden’s first since 1994.

132 Aaron Lucio, Stevensville Lakeshore senior (46-1) – The top seed at his weight won 135 last winter and was runner-up at 125 as a sophomore, and he’s a combined 100-1 over the last two seasons.

138 Owen Segorski, Lowell sophomore (26-6) – He also debuted with a championship last season, at 125, and will look to add his second in one of the strongest brackets in this division.

144 Louden Stradling, Gaylord senior (47-0) – A two-time Finals runner-up at Battle Creek Lakeview earned his first championship last season at 130 and is the top seed this weekend at his weight. He has signed with Central Michigan.

157 Timothy Simons, Gibraltar Carlson senior (43-4) – In finishing runner-up at 145 last season, he became the third wrestler from Carlson to reach a Finals championship match.

175 Brayden Gatreau, Gaylord senior (48-1) – Last season’s champion at 171 pounds is a combined 90-2 over the last two. He also has signed with CMU.

215 Adam Haselius, Jackson Northwest senior (46-0) – He’s a combined 91-1 over the last two seasons and the reigning champion at 189 as he enters this weekend the top seed at his weight. He has committed to Columbia.

Other 2022 runners-up: 113 Carter Cichocki, Lowell sophomore (28-8, 103 last year); 138 Tee Ward, Fremont junior (52-2, 119 last year); 175 Derek Badgley, Mason junior (45-2, 171 last year).

Additional No. 1 seeds: 106 Brady Baker, Stevensville Lakeshore sophomore (44-2); 113 Santana Ramon, Allen Park junior (48-0); 126 Marcello Milani, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s senior (46-0); 138 Jayden Schwartz, Charlotte senior (48-2); 144 Peter Pena, Milan senior (32-1, 140 last year in Division 3); 150 Trevor Swiss, Petoskey senior (43-0), 157 Cory Thomas Jr., Pontiac junior (22-0), 165 Philip Lamka, Fenton junior (40-2); 175 Carson Crace, Lowell senior (30-5); 190 Easton Phipps, Goodrich junior (37-4); 285 James Mahon, Goodrich sophomore (10-0).

Also undefeated: 285 Ben Przytula, Gibraltar Carlson senior (40-0), 285 Aaron Holstege, Allendale senior (46-0).

Dundee’s Braeden Davis finishes a pin in his team’s Division 3 Final last Saturday.

Division 3

106 Landon Sopha, Yale sophomore (42-7) – Last season’s runner-up at 103 is a combined 95-9 over his first two seasons.

113 Talan Parsons, Ovid-Elsie junior (47-0) – Last season’s champion at 103 is the top seed at his weight this weekend with a combined 84-1 record over the last two years.

120 Kade Kluce Dundee junior (38-5) – The reigning champion at 112 is the top seed at 120 as he seeks a third Finals title after also winning 103 as a freshman. He has committed to Navy.

120 Connor Busz Clinton senior (40-2) – Last season’s runner-up at 119 is seeking end with his first championship after also finishing Division 4 runner-up at 112 as a sophomore and third at 103 in Division 4 as a freshman.

126 Cameron Chinavare, Dundee junior (33-2) – The reigning champion at 125 is the top seed at 126 this time and a combined 62-4 over the last two seasons.

132 Braeden Davis, Dundee senior (37-0) – The top seed at 132 is the next Dundee wrestler seeking to finish with four championships after winning 119 last winter, and he’s never wrestled into the third period at the Individual Finals. He has signed with Penn State.

157 Aiden Davis, Dundee senior (40-2) – The top seed at 157 won 145 last year and 135 as a sophomore, and also finished runner-up at 125 as a freshman.

165 Connor Owens, Flint Powers Catholic senior (23-1) – Another top seed, he’s pursuing his third title match after finishing as the 160 runner-up in 2021 and the champion at that weight a year ago.

2022 runner-up: 175 Noah Etnyre, Lutheran Westland senior (42-3, 171 last year in Division 4).

Additional No. 1 seeds: 106 Haydn Nutt, Dundee freshman (34-6); 138 Kaden Chinavare, Dundee senior (37-6); 144 Blake Cosby, Dundee freshman (40-6); 150 Cole Karasinski, Grand Rapids West Catholic senior (41-0); 175 Josh Kasner, Algonac junior (47-0); 190 Troy Demas, Constantine senior (45-1); 215 Joel Simon, Lake Odessa Lakewood sophomore (47-0); 285 Shane Cook, Whitehall senior (58-0).

Also undefeated: 157 Tyler Schofield, Olivet junior (44-0); 165 Darrin Alward, Dundee senior (41-0).

Division 4

106 Logan Gilbert, Martin/Climax-Scotts sophomore (43-5) – Last season’s champion at 103 is up to a combined 84-11 over his first two seasons.

126 Shawn McGuire, Iron Mountain senior (36-1) – The top seed at 126 is a combined 149-7 over his high school career after winning last year’s 119 title and finishing top-three both of his first two seasons.

132 Landyn Crance, Union City junior (40-3) – Last season’s 125 champion is a combined 85-6 over his last two years.

150 Manus Bennett, Marlette senior (45-1) – The reigning champion at 140 and top seed this time at 150 is seeking his third title after also winning 103 as a freshman.

157 Sebastian Martinez, Riverview Gabriel Richard sophomore (35-3) – He’s the top seed at 157 coming off last year’s title at 145 and with a combined 68-7 high school record.

157 Dillon Raab, Bark River-Harris senior (45-4) – Last season’s runner-up at 145 is seeking to finish with his first title after also finishing runner-up at 135 as a sophomore.

175 Cole Hopkins, Evart senior (44-0) – Another top seed, he’s a combined 94-0 over the last two seasons after winning 171 a year ago, and his only loss as a sophomore was in the title match.

190 Drew Allgeyer, Bark River-Harris senior (32-4) – The reigning champion at 189 is a top seed this weekend as well and a three-time Finals placer overall.

Other 2022 runners-up: 113 Logan Mears, Union City sophomore (33-7, 103 last year); 126 Tyler Winch, Iron Mountain junior (27-9, 119 last year); 138 Austin Marry, Hudson junior (42-9, 125 last year); 132 Dalton Birchmeier, New Lothrop sophomore (29-13, 130 last year); 285 Grayson Orr, New Lothrop senior (35-2, 215 last year).

Additional No. 1 seeds: 106 Nicholas Sorrow, Hudson freshman (46-1); 113 Austin Garcia, Lawton sophomore (48-2); 120 Wesley Edie, Grass Lake senior (34-6); 132 Cole Marry, Hudson junior (44-7); 138 Blake Sloan, Manchester freshman (49-3); 144 Coy Perry, Hudson junior (36-8); 165 Fulton Stroud, Iron Mountain junior (33-6); 215 Grady Iobe, Union City senior (35-1), 285 Eathan Westfall, Reading senior (41-0).

Algonac’s Sky Langewicz has her arm raised in victory after winning a match during her team’s Division 3 Semifinal.

Girls Division

100 Emme Hicks, Saline senior (25-10) – The top seed and reigning champion at this weight will be seeking her fourth state championship after also winning Michigan Wrestling Association titles as a freshman and sophomore.

110 Sky Langewicz, Algonac sophomore (42-5) – She’s the top seed after opening her career with last season’s championship at 105.

115 Sydney Thompson, Eaton Rapids junior (15-4) – Last season’s champion at 110 is a combined 35-10 over her first two seasons.

125 Margaret Buurma, Fowlerville sophomore (27-7) – The reigning champion at 115 is the top seed at 125 and a combined 41-9 over the last two years.

130 Angelina Pena, Milan junior (17-5) – She won last year’s championship at 120 and is top-seeded this weekend with twice as many wins this season.

130 Tyler Swanigan, South Lyon East junior (35-14) – The reigning champion at 130 has nearly quadrupled her win total this winter from a year ago.

140 Danni Swihart, Hanover-Horton senior (32-6) – The reigning champion at 135 is top-seeded at 140 and a combined 52-10 over the last two seasons.

140 Emma Pendell, Montague junior (17-8) – Last season’s champion at 140 was Montague’s first in any division of the sport since 1989.

190 Sabrina Nauss, Brighton junior (9-0) – The reigning champion at 170 is a combined 18-0 over the last two seasons and another top seed.

2022 runners-up: 100 Tricia Pyrzewski, Gladwin junior (31-4, 100 last year); 110 Sunni LaFond, Gaylord sophomore (27-14, 105 last year); 125 Lola Barkby, Sturgis sophomore (20-19, 120 last year); 140 Ryen Allen, Goodrich junior (3-2, 125 last year); 130 Faith Blackburn, Clinton junior (7-3, 130 last year); 145 Teairah Elsemann, Saline senior (10-2, 145 last year); 170 Khloe Williams, Clio senior (28-0, 170 last year); 190 Gabriella Allen, Marcellus junior (27-4, 190 last year); 235 Mady Frisbie, Belding sophomore (17-12, 255 last year).

Additional No. 1 seeds: 105 Nakayla Dawson, Westland John Glenn freshman (37-2); 115 Morgan Irwin, Westland John Glenn senior (27-6); 120 Cecilia Williams, Mason freshman (19-5); 135 Caylynn Chandler, Birch Run senior (10-2), 145 Lydia Roope, St. Charles senior (21-7); 155 Maddie Hayden, Caledonia freshman (21-4); 170 Khloe Williams, Clio senior (28-0); 235 Mady Frisbie, Belding sophomore (17-12).

PHOTOS (Top) Detroit Catholic Central’s Dylan Gilcher wrestlers during his team’s Division 1 championship match last weekend at Wings Event Center. (Middle) Dundee’s Braeden Davis finishes a pin in his team’s Division 3 Final last Saturday. (Below) Algonac’s Sky Langewicz has her arm raised in victory after winning a match during her team’s Division 3 Semifinal. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)

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.)