By Dan Stickradt
Special to Second Half
BATTLE CREEK — Payback is never tougher than in a championship setting. Ask those around Davison’s wrestling program.
After losing to fellow state powerhouse Detroit Catholic Central in last season’s MHSAA Division 1 title match, 29-26, in a meet that went down to the final weight class, top-ranked Davison sought its revenge on the Shamrocks on Saturday at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
Catholic Central still proved too much to overcome.
Davison, top-ranked all season and top-seeded for the MHSAA Finals weekend, couldn’t hang on to a 19-13 lead through eight matches, as Catholic Central closed out with a 21-0 run by winning the last six to prevail.
CC’s Drew Garcia outlasted Davison’s Jordan Cooks in overtime, 3-1, at 189 pounds to clinch the title -- Catholic Central's third straight and fourth in five years. Both are reigning two-time Individual Finals champions.
"All season long our coach told us not to talk about a three-peat," said Garcia, who also finished as an MHSAA individual runner-up as a freshman. "He told us that we had to go out and try to win a state championship and not try to defend it. Our goal all along was to win the state title, and we (rose) up and did it.
The win marked Catholic Central’s 11th team title, which ties the MHSAA record for most in Class A/Division 1 lore.
“This ties Temperance-Bedford for the most in Division 1 history. That’s shows how hard the kids work in this wrestling program,” said Catholic Central coach Mitch Hancock, who has guided the Shamrocks to a 149-32 record over seven seasons as head coach. "That's something we take a lot of pride in. But I told the entire team, coaches and parents at the beginning of the season that we were not to mention the (phrase) three-peat. Every year is different and our goal was to go out and try to win a state championship."
Davison defeated Catholic Central, 31-28, in a match in December. But the Cardinals couldn't match up with the Shamrocks this time around.
"They had a couple of guys out the last time, so they had everyone back this time and those guys made a huge difference for them," noted Davison coach Roy Hall, whose program slipped to 8-3 all-time in MHSAA championship matches. "This played out similar to what I thought. We needed a couple of close matches to go our way, and they didn't. That's wrestling. We wanted to get them back (for last year) but came up short."
His team down 19-13 through 140 pounds, Catholic Central's Myles Amine started the comeback at 145 with a 6-4 decision win. Brother Malik Amine (152) continued the momentum swing with a 5-3 decision win that tied the match at 19-19.
"Those guys are amazing. They were in the wrestling room three days after football season ended (with another MHSAA Division 1 championship game) and ready to go at it," said Hancock. "What else can you say about those guys? They are champions on and off the mat. That's the type of dedication that we have here at Catholic Central. These kids never stop working."
Nick Bennett (160) got a pin in 1:40 to put Catholic Central up for good at 25-19. Freshman Tyler Morland (171) gutted out a 9-5 victory for a 28-19 advantage and set the stage for Garcia.
CC's Nick Geise (215) ended the match with a 4-1 triumph.
"This is all about Catholic Central High school, representing Catholic Central, the administration, the parents, and giving glory to God," added Hancock. "We would not be able to do this without any of them."
Catholic Central entered the weekend the third seed and finished 18-4, taking down second-seeded Hartland in the Semifinal and sixth-seeded Plymouth in the Quarterfinal on Friday. Davison ended 25-4 and beat Livonia Franklin then Oxford to advance.
PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Catholic Central's Drew Garcia raises his hands in victory after claiming a 3-1 decision during Saturday's Division 1 Team Final. (Middle) Davison and DCC wrestlers work for position during the championship match. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
Shayna Hruska ♦ Iron Mountain
Junior ♦ Wrestling
With an 8-2 decision win in the 106-pound final Saturday, Hruska became the first female champion at the annual Upper Peninsula Championships, and she then was selected the event’s “Outstanding Wrestler” for going 3-0 also with pins in her first two matches of the tournament. Those victories improved her record to 18-6 this season.
Hruska began wrestling in third grade and finished fourth at 97 pounds as a freshman at the 2021 Michigan Wrestling Association Girls Championships. She then finished second at her District to reach Regionals competing in the bracket with the boys last season. She entered last week’s U.P. Championships title coming off a runner-up finish at the Escanaba Elks Invitational on Jan. 7 and the championship at 106 at Kingsford’s Ray Mariucci Wrestling Invitational on Jan. 14.
@mhsaasports 🤼♀️POW: Shayna Hruska #performanceoftheweek #wrestling #upchampionship #outstandingwrestler #congrats #meetchamp #uppower #mountaineers #ironmountain #MHSAA #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #TikTok #mistudentaid #fyp @shaynahruska ♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral - WZ Beat
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Dec. 2: Treyton Siegert, Gladwin football - Report
Nov. 24: Lily Witte, Dexter diving - Report
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Sept. 30: Hannah Smith, Temperance Bedford swimming - Report
Sept. 22: Helen Sachs, Holland West Ottawa cross country - Report
Sept. 15: Nina Horning, Lake Orion volleyball - Report
Sept 8: Arturo Romero, Muskegon Oakridge soccer - Report
Sept. 1: Austin King, Midland Dow tennis - Report
Aug. 25: Olivia Hemmila, Troy Athens golf - Report
(Photos courtesy of the Iron Mountain High School athletic department.)