Skatzka Caps Career Among 4-Time Champs

March 8, 2015

By Connor Chaney
Special for Second Half

AUBURN HILLS – On a night when the MHSAA paid tribute to its previous 19 four-time Wrestling Finals champions with a video played on the giant Palace scoreboard, Devin Skatzka remembers a couple shown giving him inspiration to accomplish the incredible feat himself.

Skatzka became No. 21 on that storied list, as he won by technical fall over Ida’s Alex Phillips in their 160-pound match in Division 3.

Earlier Saturday evening, Davison’s Lincoln Olson was No. 20, as he won his fourth title in Division 1, at 135 pounds.

“Freshman year is when I definitely thought I could do this (become a four- time champion),” Skatzka said. “It was a dream of mine to do this after watching (Davison’s) Brent Metcalf and (Fowlerville’s) Adam Coon and all the other guys do this.”

Skatzka had special company up close to watch him do it, as Richmond assistant coach, and more importantly his dad, Dennis Skatzka was on the side of the mat guiding him with former head coach and Richmond legend George Hamblin.

 “Getting to enjoy this with my dad is pretty awesome,” Skatzka said.  


Champion: Dakota Greer, Howard City Tri-County, Jr. (40-1)
Decision, 9-6, over Emilio Campos, Corunna, Jr. (11-2)

In building a champion, it always takes help from many. From parents to coaches to teachers, the effort is several layers in the making.

But to many wrestlers, that most important component may be their teammates and workout partners.

That was the case for Greer.

“I wouldn’t be here without him (referring to Tri-County 112-pounder Nick McGhan),” Greer said, “We have been wrestling since we were 3 years old”.


Champion: Jarrett Trombley, Corunna, Fr. (47-1)
Decision, 4-3, over Tristian Serbus, Corunna, Jr. (40-8)

It is never easy when teammates wrestle each other in a match during a tournament.

But when it’s the MHSAA Final, that’s even harder on all involved.

Trombley, a freshman, beat junior teammate Serbus, by a one-point decision.

“It was a great experience wrestling a teammate in the Finals,” Trombley said. “Being a four time state champion has always been the goal of mine, and this is just the beginning of that.”


Champion: Devin Schroder, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Jr. (47-1)
Decision, 3-0, over Aaron Kilburn, Richmond, Jr. (43-7)

Grand Rapids Catholic Central junior Devin Schroder took one step closer to history Saturday night, when he won his third straight MHSAA title.

It was the second straight year Schroder had to beat a returning champ to win; last year he beat Leslie’s Kanen Storr.

Kilburn won at 112 in 2014.

“It’s the great thing about this sport, you can be a state champion, a nation champion, but there is always going to be people coming at you with a target on your back,” Schroder said. “So all you have to do is just go knock them down. “


Champion: Reiley Brown, of Whitehall, Jr. (48-2)
Decision, 3-0, over Jerry Fenner, Birch Run, Sr. (52-4)

Brown willed himself to a championship. And sometimes that’s all it takes.

He had all the self-confidence in the world as he was battling a tough foe in Fenner, a champion two seasons ago. But positive thinking pushed Brown to the win.

“I am going to be a state champion,” Brown said. “That is what was going through my head as I secured that last-second takedown to win the match.”


Champion: Matt Santos, of Saginaw Swan Valley, Jr. (58-1)
Decision 3-1 over Kole Krauss, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Jr. (42-4)

Santos makes no apologies for the way he wrestles.

He admittedly is a defensive wrestler, and it worked again in a tough 3-1 win for his first MHSAA title. Santos was a runner-up two seasons ago.

“Wrestle my match, the whole time every tournament, it doesn’t matter who it is or what tournament it is,” Santos said. “States, Regionals it doesn’t matter. I go out and wrestle my match. That was my gameplan going into the Finals match, and I was sticking to this plan.”


Champion: Kanen Storr, Leslie, Jr. (54-1)
Decision, 9-4, over Zach Blevins, Dundee, Jr. (54-2)

Sometimes there is nothing better than a tough loss to motivate.

It worked for Storr, who lost out on winning his second MHSAA title last year when he was defeated by Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Schroder at 119 pounds.

Storr got that second title Saturday with an impressive 9-4 win.

“Every day when I am in the wrestling room, I remember last year’s State Finals,” Storr said. “I just remember the memory of losing, and it was so painful. But it’s what pushed me to work harder every single day.”


Champion: Nate Limmex, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Sr. (44-0)
Decision, 9-3, over Dakota Ball, Ida, Sr. (46-5)

Limmex hasn’t lost at The Palace since his freshman year.

He was at Lowell High School at the time, and took fourth in Division 2.

A move to Grand Rapids Catholic Central and three undefeated seasons and three Finals championships later, Limmex reflected

“No, I don’t think I have a favorite (championship); they have all been all pretty good,” Limmex said. “This was a good way to end the career, on top – it’s always good to go out with a win.”


Champion: Foster Karmon, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Jr. (30-0)
Major decision, 13-2, over Logan Merrick, Scottville Mason County Central, Jr. (47-9)

The Grand Rapids Catholic Central brigade continued at The Palace, as Karmon took to the mat to try and win his second straight Finals title.

Last year he won the 125-pound bout while wrestling at Allegan High School. But a family move to Grand Rapids and a jump in weight classes changed little, as he won this time by major decision.

“My strategy is more of my mindset with me. I just had to look at it as one more match,” Karmon said.


Champion: Hunter Gasper, Standish-Sterling, Soph. (52-1)
Decision, 6-0, over Brandon Dyke, Allendale, Sr. (43-4)

Gasper had a strategy to dominate.

He held to that plan in claiming his first MHSAA championship and finishing this season with only one loss.

“Just take control of the match and dominate the whole match,” Gasper said. “That’s what I did, and it feels great to win as a sophomore.”


Champion: Brandon Whitman, Dundee, Fr. (57-2)
Decision 8-2, over Kevin Curby, Hillsdale, Sr. (47-7)

It’s not often when a freshman comes into high school wrestling and wins on a consistent basis at one of the heavier weight classes.

But that’s exactly what Whitman did this winter, as he won 57 matches and then a title Saturday night.

“I was super excited, and I was a little bit nervous,” Whitman said. “I didn’t know how big (MHSAA Finals) was and what was going to be happening, but when I started wrestling I felt more confident.”

It was fifth time Whitman wrested Curby this year; Whitman won all five times.


Champion: Jared Roehl, Millington, Soph. (49-0)
Decision 5-2, over Chase Beard, Allegan, Soph. (54-3)

Sticking with impressive underclassmen, a pair of super sophomores wrestled for the 189-pound title.

Millington’s Jared Roehl stayed undefeated with a close decision to close his second trip to the Finals.

“After taking sixth as a freshman last year and hurting my shoulder and eventually having to get shoulder surgery, this feels a lot better, that for sure,” Roehl said. “Finally being able to take the top of the podium healthy is all I can ask for.”


Champion: Trent Hillger, Lake Fenton, Soph. (58-0)
Decision, 6-0, over Grant Tennihill, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Sr. (40-4)

Division 3 looks highly competitive for years to come, as another sophomore shined at 215 pounds.

Hillger won 6-0 to cap a perfect 58-0 season.

“I have been working toward this my whole life,” Hillger said. “This feels great.”


Champion: Maddox Maki, Williamston, Jr. (53-6)
Decision, 2-0, over Tim Smith, Benzie Central, Sr. (35-4)

Sometimes winning an MHSAA title when you are a freshman can seem like an unrealistic goal.

That’s how Williamston junior Maddox Maki felt. But as a junior, that dream became reality.

“As a freshman I kind of joked around saying I could win a state title, and as the years went on it became more and more realistic and finally it came,” Maki said.  “Now I did it and it feels great.”

Click for full results.

PHOTO: Richmond’s Devin Skatzka is saluted by the crowd after becoming the 21st in MHSAA history to win a fourth Finals championship. (Click to see more at

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.)