Did you see that?

June 11, 2012

Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The second weekend of this spring's MHSAA Finals is behind us, with four more champions awarded in girls and boys lacrosse. 

Below is our sampling of what struck us most from last week's many highlights as we kick off the final week of the 2011-12 school year.

Girls lacrosse

Birmingham wins thriller: Birmingham United scored the last three goals in Saturday’s MHSAA Division 1 Final to edge Hartland 12-11 in overtime. (Grand Rapids Press)

East Grand Rapids ends perfectly: The Pioneers won their first girls lacrosse championship –17-6 over Okemos in Division 2 – and finished this spring 28-0. (Grand Rapids Press)

Boys lacrosse

Again, it’s Brother Rice: The Warriors continued their hold on the MHSAA Division 1 championship and handed Ann Arbor Pioneer its only loss this season with a 14-8 win Saturday. (Detroit Free Press)

Rangers come back for more: Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central scored the final four goals of the Division 2 Final to edge reigning champion Detroit Country Day 7-6. (Second Half)

Soccer

14 goals, 2 wins: Grandville Calvin Christian eliminated two other top-10 teams in Division 4 during last week’s Regional. The No. 4 Squires first defeated No. 8 St. Joseph Lake Michigan Catholic 7-0, then No. 2 Kalamazoo Christian 7-2 in the final. (Grand Rapids Press)

DeWitt returns: The No. 4 Panthers earned a Division 2 Semifinal matchup with Plainwell by beating No. 5 Grand Rapids Christian 1-0 in their Regional Final. DeWitt fell to Plainwell in a 2011 Semifinal, but returns a number of players from that team. (Lansing State Journal)

Softball

Decade of dominance: The Gladstone softball team earned its 10th-straight Regional championship with 7-0 and 6-2 wins over Tawas and Traverse City St. Francis, respectively. Gladstone won MHSAA championships in 2009 and 2004, and was ranked No. 7 heading into this postseason. (Escanaba Daily Press)

Fantastic first: Swartz Creek won its first Regional by downing Alpena 2-1 in a Division 1 Final at Saginaw Valley State University. The Dragons are 34-6 and also have set a school record this spring for wins. (Bay City Times)

Baseball

Brighton beat Brother Rice: The unranked Bulldogs downed the top-ranked Warriors 4-1 in the Regional Final at Novi. Brighton rode the arm of pitcher Colin Nash, who moved to 8-0 this season. (Detroit News)

Bears also take out No. 1: The top-ranked team in Division 2 also fell, thanks to No. 10 St. Joseph. The Bears downed Richland Gull Lake 6-5 in eight innings before beating Coldwater for the championship. (St. Joseph Herald-Palladium)

Golf

No 300 here: No. 2-ranked Plymouth and unranked Saline and Canton all broke 300 at the Division 1 Regional at West Shore Golf and Country Club in Grosse Ile. Plymouth won the title with a 296, but Saline was only two behind and Canton came in at 299. Canton’s Donnie Trosper, a freshman, won the individual championship with a 67. Saline had beaten those two teams in the District. (MHSAA)

Lowell Enters Another Elite Group of Champs with 11th-Straight Finals Win

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

February 24, 2024

KALAMAZOO – There’s nothing quite like the roar of a crowd after your team has clinched an MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals title.

That’s true whether it’s for title No. 1, or, in the case of Casey Engle and his Lowell teammates Saturday, for their program’s 11th-straight Division 2 championship.

“It’s unreal,” Engle said. “It’s something I look forward to every year.”

Lowell extended its record run of wrestling team titles by defeating Freeland 49-21 in the Division 2 Final at Wings Events Center.

The Red Arrows joined the Grosse Pointe South (1976-86) and Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett (1980-90) girls tennis programs in winning 11 straight Finals titles. Only East Grand Rapids boys swimming & diving, winning 15 straight from 1948-62, and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice boys lacrosse – with 13 straight from 2005-17 – have longer Finals championship streaks in Lower Peninsula or statewide competition.

“I mean, it’s possible (to reach 15),” said sophomore Jarrett Smith, whose pin at 106 pounds clinched the title. “It’s hard to predict that far, four years into the future. We’re losing some key guys, but we graduated 14 last year, five this year, so we’re returning some firepower.”

Lowell is always returning firepower, and it’s consistently adding it, too, giving new waves of Red Arrows the chance to raise a wooden mitten. 

That’s why for coach RJ Boudro, each title remains just as sweet as the last.

“Why would it get old?” said Boudro, who has been in charge for 10 of those titles. “Look at the crowd. When I first walked in here, I looked up, and you see that we have more fans here than anybody else, and that’s what it’s about. Next year will be fun, too. When you can still bring crowds in and you can do it 11 years in a row, there’s more to that than just winning. If it was just about winning, why else would they come? They would probably think it was a foregone conclusion. They love the kids; they love the community.”

One could forgive an outsider for believing it’s a foregone conclusion when Lowell takes the mat for the Division 2 postseason, as it’s won the Final by more than 20 points in each of the past five seasons and in seven of its 11 straight championship victories.

The Falcons’ Elijah Murphy, left, locks up Lowell’s Ari McFarland at 215. So to avoid that feeling creeping into his wrestling room, Boudro makes it clear the Red Arrows’ responsibility isn’t just to win on the mat, but to strive for something bigger.

“We’re not doing it to just win state championships,” Boudro said. “We’re trying to find out who we are, we’re trying to be better men, better women, better coaches. So, it’s not just about winning, it’s about being a better person. Whether I’m a coach or a kid, just trying to find a way to be better. When you’re doing that all the time, you get better, but you feel like you have a purpose. Every single guy on the team feels like they have a purpose, and that’s really important.”

Just 14 wrestlers can step onto the mat in a single dual, and the same number is the max a team can enter into the individual postseason, so accomplishing that can sometimes be as tough as anything else for Lowell wrestlers, and certainly helps motivate them throughout the season – foregone conclusions or not.

“One of our signs up there I saw, it says, ‘Tradition never graduates,’ and it’s true,” Smith said. “We just keep the kids coming. Even our B Team, C Team are competing at the highest level. At the beginning of Districts, we had 17 ranked guys, and you can only send 14. So we have just great partners all around.”

Freeland, meanwhile, was making its first appearance in a Final, after getting to the Quarterfinals for the third time in program history. 

“Outstanding. Outstanding. They’ve been giving their all every match,” Freeland coach Scott VanLuven said. “They’ve been doing it all year. We beat Brighton, we weren’t supposed to. We beat (Bay City) John Glenn in our conference, then we had to beat them again in our District Final when we weren’t supposed to. No one gave us really a chance down here, I think. But they believed, and they did well.”

The Falcons (25-3) still had a shot with three matches to go, trailing 31-21. But Smith put a quick end to that with his pin at 106, and that was followed by a pair of pins from Cole and Carter Cichocki at 113 and 120, respectively.

Of the Arrows’ nine wins in the dual, eight came by either pin or technical fall, as Jackson Blum (138), Jared Boone (165) and Engle (190) also won by pinfall. Logan Dawson (132) and Owen Segorski (144) each won by tech. Cody Foss (126) opened the dual with a win by decision for Lowell (22-3).

Fabian Facundo (150) and Bringham Smith (285) each won by pin for Freeland, while Noah Graham (157), Gibson Shepard (175) and Elijah Murphy (215) all won by decision.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Lowell’s Cole Cichocki, left, lines up against Freeland’s Michael Wilson at 113 pounds Saturday. (Middle) The Falcons’ Elijah Murphy, left, locks up Lowell’s Ari McFarland at 215. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)