Red Arrows Find Target Again with Record Win

March 14, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Lowell wrestling has had more to celebrate than most teams over the last six winters.

But something a little extra has accompanied the buzz after the Red Arrows won their record sixth-straight MHSAA Finals team championship Feb. 23 at Wings Events Center.

The Division 2 back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back champion edged Goodrich 29-23 to surpass Davison 2002-06 and Hudson 2009-13 for the longest championship streak since the team match format was added to the Finals lineup in 1988.

People ask for the secret. Lowell coach R.J. Boudro isn’t sure where to start.

“It’s not one thing; it’s so many things,” Boudro said. “It’s hard work across all levels – coaching staff, obviously the wrestlers, and parents and community and administration, and our youth wrestling program is extremely strong.

“When it’s all said and done, the Lowell wrestling program is something we’re all willing to give ourselves too. We’re all better because of the Lowell wrestling program, so it’s a win-win. Whether it’s a fundraiser, reading to young kids, there are so many things people don’t see. It’s pretty cool to be a part of, and there are a lot of people willing to sacrifice to make it successful.”

Lowell is the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for February. The Red Arrows finished 22-3, their only team losses this season to eventual Division 1 champion Detroit Catholic Central, Division 1 runner-up Brighton and semifinalist Davison. Lowell followed up the team title with two champions and five more placers the first weekend of March at the Individual Finals at Ford Field.

The team title streak began in 2014 under then-coach Dave Dean, when the Red Arrows ended St. Johns’ four-season hold on Division 2 with a one-point win in the Final. Boudro was an assistant to Dean and took over the program the next season.

The toughest part of continuing such a run is probably the expectation that it’s going to continue. The pressure stacks up – Boudro noticed his team wrestling a little tight at the end of this regular season. But he and his staff worked to get the Red Arrows focusing again on the postseason tournaments being the same as those the team wrestles during the regular season – which is helped because Lowell stacks its schedule with playoff-caliber competition to prepare for February and March.

The season ended with junior Austin Boone winning the individual title at 152 pounds – he’ll attempt next year to become the 27th in MHSAA history to win four championships – and senior Avry Mutchler claiming the title at 140. Senior Jeff Leach (fourth at 135), junior James Fotis (fifth at 145), sophomore Doak Dean (seventh at 145), sophomore Jacob Lee (fifth at 160), junior Tyler Delooff (fifth at 285) and freshman Ramsy Mutschler (fourth at 103) also placed among the top eight at their weights. Avry Mutschler went over 150 career wins during the season, and Leach won his 100th. Leach also clinched this season’s championship in his match against Goodrich, after doing the same against Warren Woods-Tower in the 2016 Final.

Additionally, the Red Arrows earned first-team academic all-state honors for the 13th year in a row, this time with a team GPA of 3.844.

Lowell had scheduled to celebrate Wednesday with its postseason banquet, before jumping back into planning for next season and the pursuits that will come with it.

“We don’t do the same things every year. We’re always trying to get better,” Boudro said. “We try to push the envelope so we’re not staying stagnate.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2018-19

January: Farmington United gymnastics – Read 
December: Warren Woods-Tower wrestling – Read
November: Rochester Adams girls swimming & diving – Read
October: Leland boys soccer – Read
September: Pickford football – Read
August: Northville girls golf – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Lowell wrestlers congratulate Jeff Leach after he won the last and clinching match of the Division 2 Final last month against Goodrich. (Middle) The Red Arrows’ Austin Boone wrestles Melvindale’s Devin Spears for the Division 2 title at 152 pounds. (Click for more from

Imlay City's D'Ambrosio: Calm, Cool & Contending for School's 1st Mat Championship

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

February 7, 2024

Dominic D’Ambrosio’s answer when asked at 5 years old if he wanted to start wrestling was probably a clue for what was to come.

Bay & Thumb“I remember when my dad asked me if I wanted to wrestle,” D’Ambrosio said. “I think I just said, ‘Sure.’”

It’s not that D’Ambrosio would be nonchalant or aloof when it came to wrestling. He’s quite the opposite, actually. The work he’s put in has him unbeaten at 43-0 as a senior, ranked among the top four at 138 pounds in Division 3, and threatening to become the Spartans’ first Individual Finals champion.

The clue was that D’Ambrosio was going to be calm and cool on the mat, and have a grounded view of the sport off it, which has also helped him reach those heights.

“When I was younger, I got an award for being a cool cucumber – the Cool as a Cucumber award,” he said. “When I lose, I just look at it as I can get better from it. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. It’s serious, the work you put into it, but it’s not so serious. If you lose, you just want to get better. I just like to get the work done.”

To be fair, D’Ambrosio doesn’t do much losing.

He’s dropped just nine matches during his four-year career, compared to 159 wins, and a third of those losses came against Dundee four-time Finals champion Braeden Davis, who is now unbeaten and ranked No. 5 in the country at 125 pounds as a true freshman at Penn State.

D’Ambrosio, right, takes to the mat during his early years in the sport. D’Ambrosio was 14-0 as a freshman when COVID-19 ended the Spartans’ 2020-21 season short of the postseason. He placed third at the Finals as a sophomore, and fifth as a junior.

He has his eyes on the ultimate prize this year, and for a moment he allowed the thought to get him out of his even-keeled nature. But even that doesn’t last long.

“It would be pretty special,” he said. “I’ve been working hard for it. But, either way, I’m just going to go and leave it all out there.”

D’Ambrosio is the son of Imlay City coach Tony D’Ambrosio, which in some cases could create more pressure. But not this one. And a lot of that could be credited to Tony.

“We always tried to keep the pressure low and just have fun,” said Tony D’Ambrosio, who is in his 10th year at the helm in Imlay City. “We just focus on getting better. He’s always just wrestled. It’s just how he is. Dominic doesn’t even look at the brackets. He doesn’t find out who he’s wrestling until he shakes hands.”

What happens after they shake hands isn’t what one would expect from someone who could win that same Cool as a Cucumber award every year. 

D’Ambrosio’s matches typically don’t last long. Of his 159 wins, 105 have come by pin, including all three of his wins at the 2023 Individual Finals. As a junior, he set the school pin record at 41. This season, 32 of his 43 wins have been by pinfall.

Just four of his matches have gone beyond the first period this season, and only two of those have gone the distance. 

“This year, he’s really been turning it all on,” Tony D’Ambrosio said. “He didn’t start pinning a lot until later on into middle school and high school. It’s just basic stuff, not anything fancy. He’s a nice kid, but when he’s on the mat, he’s going to turn you over.”

D’Ambrosio, right, works to pin an opponent. Dominic isn’t a thrower, and his pins aren’t the result of catching an opponent in anything fluky. He’s just meticulous, and able to take advantage of any opening he’s given.

“I’m (working on a half Nelson) 100 times, 200 times during the week, so I’ll be able to hit it during the weekend,” he said. “If I got somebody’s head, nobody is getting out of it. I can just flow really well into a pinning sequence.”

As he pins his way through the season, D’Ambrosio is racking up awards. He’s been named Most Valuable Wrestler at four tournaments bouncing between 138 and 144, and at one point found himself ranked No. 1 by Michigan Grappler at 138.

As you would expect, he hasn’t allowed that to get to his head, and as his father puts it, “the only ranking that matters is the podium.”

With District tournaments this week, D’Ambrosio now can focus 100 percent of his efforts on getting to the top of that podium. But don’t expect the pressure to mount in his house or on the mat.

“It would be special,” Tony D’Ambrosio said. “But, again, as long as he goes out there and just does what he does, and does his best – it’s kind of like the NCAAs, you have to have a good weekend. It doesn’t dictate who you are. It would be awesome, and it’s a great goal to have. It would be a great goal to accomplish and be the first (from Imlay City). But wherever he ends up, I’m going to be proud of what he’s done.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Imlay City’s Dominic D’Ambrosio, right, wrestles to a fifth-place finish at 132 pounds in Division 3 last season at Ford Field. (Middle) D’Ambrosio, right, takes to the mat during his early years in the sport. (Below) D’Ambrosio, right, works to pin an opponent. (Top photo by High School Sports Scene; other photos courtesy of the D’Ambrosio family.)