As Upsets Abound, Parker Repeats in D2

March 5, 2016

By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half

AUBURN HILLS – St. Johns senior Ian Parker could not help but notice what was going on around him Saturday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals had turned into a tournament of upsets, as many returning champions, and a few multiple champions like Grand Rapids Catholic Central's Devin Schroder, Gaylord's Dom LaJoie and Lowell's Lucas Hall, all went down to defeat.

For Schroder, he lost a chance at making history, failing to win his fourth straight title and becoming just the 22nd wrestler to accomplish that feat.

So Parker, also a returning champion, walked onto the mat for his 140-pond championship match with  Ortonville-Brandon's Bryan LaVearn a little nervous. And why not? LaVearn pinned former champ Zeth Dean of Lowell on Friday night in their Semifinal.

But Parker buckled down, wrestled his match, and beat the game LaVearn 6-2 to win his second title. 

"I was a lot more nervous going into this match, because it was my final match, and there had been a lot of upsets in this tournament," Parker said. "It kind of gets in your head a little bit, but I felt like I calmed it down and did what I had to do to get it done."


Champion: Corey Gamet, Parma Western, Fr. (15-1)
Decision, 3-2, over Chaise Mayer, Warren Woods Tower, Fr. (50-7)

Gamet had a difficult first year of high school wrestling, dealing with an injured knee that limited his season to just 16 matches.

But the final four of those matches were great, as he won an MHSAA title at 103 with a 3-2 win over fellow freshman Mayer.

"I had to keep my confidence because I missed a lot of practices," Gamet said. "I knew I just had to win the match."


Champion: Elijuh Weaver, Warren Woods Tower, Jr. (58-1)
Decision, 5-4, over Branson Proudlock, Gibraltar Carlson, Soph. (51-2)

There would be no second place for Weaver again.

A runner-up last year, Weaver won his title this year with a hard-fought 5-4 win over talented sophomore Proudlock.

"I was thinking I can't lose again, I can't repeat what happened last year," Weaver said. "My friends motivated me by telling me I can't be a runner-up again."


Champion: Julian Saldana, Melvindale, Sr. (58-1)
Decision, 4-3, over Dom LaJoie, Gaylord, Jr. (61-1)

Saldana may have been as shocked as everyone else in The Palace on Saturday. After all, he had just upset a two-time reigning champion.

The win caused the large crowd at The Palace to gasp, as LaJoie went down to defeat for the first time at the MHSAA Finals.

"I had to do something; I'm not really sure what exactly I did," Saldana said. "All I know is it worked, and I beat a two-time state champion."


Champion: Drew Marten, Tecumseh, Jr. (53-1)
Decision, 10-4, over Lucas Hall, Lowell, Sr. (31-1)

Just as the crowd was settling down at the Division 2 end of The Palace, Marten put fans back on their feet as he beat two-time champion Hall, 10-4.

It was a tough win for Marten, as he explained that he and Hall are close friends. But was glad to do it for his school and wrestling program.

"He is my best friend, so that was tough," Marten said. "But I hope this will motivate our program and create a chain reaction for Tecumseh."


Champion: Mike Bergmooser, Carleton Airport, Sr. (50-3)
Fall, 3:58, over Jon Marten, Gaylord, Sr., (58-4)

Better late than never for Bergmooser.

He had struggled at the Finals before, but this past weekend won four matches to win his first title.

"I never won a match down here before. I was 0-6," Bergmooser said. "But it felt so good to finally get a win and go out with a bang."


Champion: Nathan Ellis, Goodrich, Sr. (52-3)
Decision, 5-2, over Trent Lashuay, St. Johns, Jr. (44-11)

When two wrestlers are evenly matched, it's usually the one who pushes himself to the limit who picks up the victory.

Ellis wrestled a full six minutes and came away with a tight 5-2 win.

"Going into the third period, I knew I just had to push the pace," Ellis said. "If I did that, I knew that it would be in my favor, and I would come out on top."


Champion: Austin Melton, DeWitt, Sr. (55-1)
Major decision, 14-6, over Dustin Gross, Dearborn Heights Annapolis, Soph. (55-4)

Sometimes a heart-breaking loss in a championship match can be just the motivation to help achieve a title the next year.

That's what happened Melton, as he lost a tough match in the Finals to Marysville's Austin Thompson a year ago, only to come back and win this year by major decision.

"It felt great to go out on top," Melton said. "I have been working hard all year long. It feels awesome because last year it slipped away, but now that I finally got it … it feels awesome."


Champion: Ameer Munassar, Melvindale, Sr. (52-1)
Decision, 7-5 OT, over Brandon Garcia, Riverview, Sr. (54-1)

Losing in Regional competition can be tough. It affects your seed and placement when it comes to the Finals.

But coming back and avenging that loss in the Finals can be even sweeter, as Munassar felt Saturday night avenging his only defeat by beating Garcia.

“I lost to him in overtime at Regionals, and it motivated me so much more coming into the State Finals," Munassar said. "To win here is so great."


Champion: Deirrien Perkins, Warren Lincoln, Sr. (41-1)
Decision, 3-1, over Connor Charping, Trenton, Jr. (55-2)

Wrestling coaches always preach wrestle to the final whistle. They always say you never know what can happen, and that a match is never done until that final whistle.

Perkins did just that, and scored a takedown with 10 seconds to go in the 160-pound championship match to beat Charping 3-1.

“He wasn't ready for it (the takedown). I knew I had to go, and I just went for it," Perkins said. "I capitalized on that moment, got (the takedown) and held on for dear life."


Champion: Jelani Embree, Warren Lincoln, Jr. (47-0)
Decision, 4-1, over Danny Kruse, Lowell, Sr. (36-3)

An injured Embree is no easy opponent to wrestle. A healthy one can be downright impossible to face.

The Warren Lincoln junior proved that this year, completing an undefeated season with a hard-fought 4-1 win over Kruse.

"This year it was a little bit different, because both my knees were actually healthy," Embree said. "I was able to train a lot harder, and it helped me finally come out on top."


Champion: Max Dean, Lowell, Sr. (37-0)
Decision, 9-2, over Brad Wilton, Mason, Jr. (45-3)

Dean won an MHSAA championship as a sophomore, but was unable to defend that title last year thanks to an injured wrist suffered during his junior football season.

So it was that much sweeter for him to come back as a senior and finish the task, winning his second championship with a workmanlike 9-2 decision.

"To me, this means a lot," said Dean, who will be wrestling at Cornell next year. "I was heart-broken last year not being able to compete, having that privilege to walk on to the mat and go to war. I really missed that, and it was definitely tough. But it is really satisfying to come back and win this year."


Champion: Landon Pelham, Tecumseh, Sr. (53-0)
Decision, 9-2, over Eli Boulton, Lowell, Jr. (29-14)

There is an MHSAA championship in the Pelham household now.

Two years after watching his older brother Preston Pelham lose in the heavyweight Finals, Landon Pelham won the family's first title.

"I got some redemption for my bother. It has all been our goal to be state champs," Landon Pelham said. "He wanted more for me than I could have ever wanted it for myself."


Champion: Isaiah Espinoza, Adrian, Sr. (47-1)
Decision, 1-0, over Sam Benson, Mason, Sr. (36-6)

Espinoza takes nothing for granted in wrestling. He knows how brutal the sport can be, both physically and mentally.

The grind of a season can take it out of your body. And a loss in a championship match can wear on the mind for a long time.

That happened last year when Espinoza fell in the Finals at heavyweight and had to wait a full year for redemption, which he got Saturday night. 

"I knew I had to make it back, and my coaches gave me a process to get better" Espinoza said. "They expected me to push myself harder and harder. It was a grind, I loved it and it paid off."

Click for full results

The MHSAA Wrestling Finals are presented by the Michigan Army National Guard.

PHOTO: St. Johns’ Ian Parker wins his Semifinal match Friday to earn a berth in Saturday’s Final, which he also won to repeat as a Division 2 champ. (Photo by Michelle Campbell.)

Performance of the Week: Detroit Catholic Central's Darius Marines

March 8, 2024

Darius Marines headshotDarius Marines ♦ Detroit Catholic Central
Senior ♦ Wrestling

Marines became the 36th wrestler in Michigan high school history to win a fourth Individual Finals championship as he clinched the 157-pound title with a 10-2 major decision over Roseville's previously-undefeated Jay'Den Williams on Saturday at Ford Field. Marines became the third Detroit Catholic Central wrestler to earn four Finals titles. 

The clinching victory put Marines at 50-0 to close this season, and 138-9 for his career. His previous championships came at 145 pounds as a freshman, 152 as a sophomore and 157 last year as a junior. He won by technical fall, pin and then major decision on the way to meeting Williams in the championship match. He also helped the Shamrocks to Division 1 team titles the last two seasons. Marines will continue wrestling at the college level and is considering multiple Division I opportunities.

@mhsaasports 🤼‍♂️POW: Darius Marines #wrestling #individual #detroitcatholiccentral #letsgo #part1 #highschoolsports #tiktalk #interview #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

@mhsaasports 🤼‍♂️POW: Darius Marines #tiktalk #questiontime #part2 #muhammadali #joker #pasta #japan #performanceoftheweek #mistudentaid #fyp #MHSAA ♬ original sound - MHSAA

Follow the MHSAA on TikTok.'s "Performance of the Week" features are powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP). MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and Twitter @mistudentaid.

Past 2023-24 Honorees

March 1: Rylee Smith, Zeeland West bowling - Report
Feb. 22:
Caleb Lewandowski, Traverse City West skiing - Report
Feb. 15:
Jadin Mix, Onaway basketball - Report
Feb. 8:
Onalee Wallis, Cadillac skiing - Report
Feb. 1:
Abbey DeGraw, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek competitive cheer - Report
Jan. 25:
Ewan Todd, Riverview swimming - Report
Jan. 18:
Ashley Weller, Jackson Northwest basketball - Report
Jan. 11:
Michael Baldwin, Saginaw Arthur Hill wrestling - Report
Dec. 15:
Jena Fijolek, Fenton bowling - Report
Dec. 8:
Sophia Wagner, Escanaba gymnastics - Report
Dec. 1:
Isaiah Marshall, Southfield Arts & Technology football - Report
Nov. 24:
Sarah Bradley, Clarkston Everest Collegiate volleyball - Report
Nov. 17:
Kalieb Osborne, Waterford Mott football - Report
Nov. 10:
Tekalegn Vlasma, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Nov. 3:
Colton Kinnie, Birmingham Seaholm football - Report
Oct. 27:
Lauren Timpf, Macomb Lutheran North golf - Report
Oct. 20:
Alena Li, Okemos golf - Report
Oct. 13:
Seth Norder, Grand Haven cross country - Report
Oct. 5:
Paige Anderson, Muskegon Reeths-Puffer golf - Report
Sept. 29:
MacKenzie Bisballe, Lake City volleyball - Report
Sept. 22:
Jhace Massey, Gladwin football - Report
Sept. 15:
Kaylee Draper, Sturgis swimming - Report
Sept. 8:
Owen Jackson, Traverse City St. Francis tennis - Report
Sept. 1:
Rachel Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country - Report

PHOTO DCC's Darius Marines, left, wrestles Roseville's Jay'Den Williams in the Division 1 157-pound championship match Saturday at Ford Field. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)