Division 2: Redwings Look to Soar for 4
Division 2: Redwings Look to Soar for 4
Wrestling
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Only three wrestling teams have won at least four straight championships since the first MHSAA Team Finals in 1988. This weekend, St. Johns will seek to become the fourth to pin down that accomplishment. 

But this might be the Redwings toughest road to finishing the season with a win. Six of last season's Quarterfinalists also will be back at Battle Creek's Kellogg Arena. 

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 2, listed by seed. Their Quarterfinal matches begin at 7:45 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at 11:45 Saturday morning and the championship match at 4 p.m. All matches this weekend will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv. For results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page. Rankings below are from MichiganGrappler.com

#1 ST. JOHNS

Record/rank: 19-4, No. 1
League finish: Tied for first in Capital Area Activities Conference Red
Coach: Derek Phillips, first season (19-4)
Championship history: Three MHSAA championships (most recently 2012)
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Ben Proctor (28-9) sr., 103 Ian Parker (43-1) fr., 125 Zac Hall (42-0) jr., 130 Jacob Schmitt (44-0) sr. 135 Logan Massa (35-2) soph., 140 Mark Bozzo (24-11) jr., 145 Ben Whitford (30-0) sr., 152 Josh Pennell (33-0) sr., 171 Angus Arthur (39-3) soph., 189 Payne Hayden (38-1) sr., 215 Blake Cooper (33-12) sr.
Outlook: New coach, new stars at the top, but that’s about all that’s changed as St. Johns goes after its fourth straight MHSAA championship. Phillps took over the program after seven seasons as an assistant, and five wrestlers who made the Individual Finals last season have taken over for graduated stars Taylor Massa and Jordan Wohlfert. Like those two, five seniors have signed to wrestle in the Big Ten next season: reigning MHSAA individual champs Whitford (University of Michigan), Schmitt (Northwestern) and Brant Schafer (Indiana), reigning runner-up Hayden (Michigan) and top contender Pennell (Michigan State). Hall, a junior, is a two-time individual champion.

#2 LOWELL

Record/rank: 17-6, No. 2
League finish: First in O-K White
Coach: Dave Dean, eighth season (211-37)
Championship history: Three MHSAA championships (most recently 2009), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Lucas Hall (34-5) fr., 112 Derek Krajewski (37-13) jr., 112 Zeth Dean (34-5) fr., 119 Bailey Jack (34-6) jr., 135 Jordan Hall (36-2) soph., 160 Max Dean (22-4) fr., 171 Kanon Dean (32-8) jr., 189 Garett Stehley (24-0) jr., 215 Taylor Kornoely (30-0) sr.
Outlook: The Red Arrows are in the Quarterfinals for the third straight season and after finishing runner-up in 2012. Lowell graduated some significant contributors off last year’s team, but six wrestlers are ranked among the top five in their respective classes – with Jack and Kornoely both ranked second.

#3 NILES

Record/rank: 33-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Todd Hesson, sixth season (record N/A)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Brandon Meek (40-15) soph., 119 Nicholas Zimmerman (44-4) sr., 125 Darek Bullock-Mills (30-11) jr., 145 Casey Burandt (26-1) sr., 152 Fritzel Findeisen (45-4) sr., 189 Ryan Casey (49-1) sr.
Outlook: Niles has set a school record for wins and won its first Regional title since 1960 after also winning back-to-back District titles for the first time. The Vikings own victories this season over three other Division 2 Quarterfinalists: Lowell, Allegan and Mason. All four senior individual qualifiers are ranked among the top eight in their respective weight classes.

#4 WARREN LINCOLN

Record/rank: 30-4, No. 10
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference White
Coach: Bill Delia, 14th season (219-142-3)
Championship history: MHSAA champion 1994.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Michael Abouya (28-8) jr., 119 Garret Kaercher (44-11) fr., 125 Riwan Hormiz (44-10) sr., 130 Robert Pope (32-9) soph., 140 Khannor Kaercher (47-4) soph., 152 Ethan Eisenmann (40-11) soph.
Outlook: Lincoln has made an amazing progression to return to Battle Creek after winning just one match in 2007-08 – and then upping its win total every season over the last five. The Abes have won three straight league titles and two straight District championships. Lincoln should continue to surge, as Hormiz is one of only three seniors expected in the lineup this weekend.

#5 ALLEGAN

Record/rank: 30-5, No. 4
League finish: First in the Wolverine Conference
Coach: Murray Rose, 25th season (654-141-2)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recently 2007), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Jon Krcatovich (46-11) sr., 103 Foster Karmon (49-3) fr., 130 Austin Kelley (53-1) sr., 140 Kyle Simaz (56-0) jr., 171 Chance Gorby (43-14) sr.
Outlook: Rose’s incredible coaching career now includes 21 league titles and five straight trips to the Quarterfinals (and nine over the last decade). Among those Allegan beat during this run was No. 8 Hamilton, in the District. Simaz is a two-time individual runner-up and is ranked tops in his weight class for this division, with Kelley second at his weight and Karmon third at his.

#6 TECUMSEH

Record/rank: 30-12, No. 6
League finish: Tied for first in Southeast Conference White
Coach: Tony Greathouse, second season (60-17)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Joe Rebottaro (44-9) sr., 103 Ricky Azelton (36-14) jr., 145 Anthony Lesko (45-7) sr., 160 Cole Amstutz (38-10) sr., 189 Landon Pelham (44-9) fr., 215 Preston Pelham (45-9) jr.
Outlook: Tecumseh is making its second trip to Battle Creek in its second season under Greathouse, and sets up especially tough at the heavier weights with Individual Finals qualifiers slated for 171-285. Six wrestlers are ranked among the top 10 at their respective weights.

#7 GREENVILLE

Record/rank: 28-4, No. 7
League finish: First in O-K Bronze
Coach: Paul Johnson, 24th season (538-114-3)
Championship history: MHSAA champion in 2008, one runner-up finish. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Mike Schmidt (47-3) sr., 130 Alec Ward (46-5) jr., 140 Kyle Reamer (36-11) sr., 189 Dakota Sherrick (43-7) sr.
Outlook: Greenville continues to shine despite graduating one of the best wrestlers in MHSAA history, Jordan Thomas, last spring. The Yellow Jackets are in Battle Creek for the fourth straight season and have won eight straight District championships. Schmidt and Ward are ranked among the top three in their respective weight classes.

#8 MASON

Record/rank: 30-8, unranked
League finish: First in CAAC Gold
Coach: Brian Martel, 10th season (304-64)
Championship history: Three MHSAA championships (most recently 2006), one runner-up finish.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 140 James Starzec (41-12) sr., 152 Sean Houghton (46-7) sr., 160 Rylen Droscha (43-10) jr., 160 Austin Droscha (43-9) sr., 189 Joey Stid (17-3), sr.
Outlook: Mason was ranked earlier this season and reached the Quarterfinals in part by beating No. 5 Fowlerville at the Regional. This will be the Bulldogs’ third trip to Battle Creek in four seasons and sixth under Martel. Mason relies on seven seniors in the starting lineup including three who are ranked among the top 10 at their respective weights.

PHOTO: St. Johns' Zac Hall (left) wrestles Lowell's Bailey Jack at 112 pounds during last season's Division 2 Final. Both will return to Kellogg Arena on Friday. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)


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