By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Michigan will celebrate one last time this weekend, at the high school level, an accomplished group of seniors who have dominated the Division 4 Individual Wrestling Finals during the first half of this decade.
Four seniors will take the mat beginning Thursday with a combined seven titles already to their credit. Four more seniors are undefeated and looking to earn a first championship in their final trip.
See below for 10 contenders to watch this weekend, plus others who enter the tournament undefeated or coming off runner-up finishes in 2014. Follow all the matches beginning with Thursday's first round on a subscription basis live on MHSAA.TV, and click here for results at MHSAA.com.
Those listed below are only a handful of the numerous contenders for this weekend’s Division 4 championships. Come back to Second Half at the end of this weekend, when we’ll have post-match thoughts from all 14 title winners.
112: Joe Traynham, Onaway senior (43-3) – The reigning champion at this weight didn’t make his first Finals until last season but should again be in the mix at the end of a bracket that’s arguably gotten tougher.
119: Logan Griffin, Erie-Mason senior (38-0) – This reigning champion also won 112 as a sophomore and was runner-up there as a freshman; he’s going for a second perfect season after finishing undefeated in 2012-13.
130: Dresden Simon, Dansville junior (54-0) – Last season’s runner-up at 119 has moved up two classes and gone over 100 wins for his career after tallying a 49-4 record and wrestling Griffin to a 6-2 decision in the Final last winter.
135: Kyle Barkovich, Lawton senior (51-2) – He finished runner-up at 130 last season, falling by a 5-3 decision in the Final, and is a favorite to add a championship to his other three top-eight placings that also included a sixth at 103 as a freshman and fourth at 112 as a sophomore.
152: Kyle Johnson, Hudson junior (43-7) – His record includes a few more losses than most because Hudson wrestles its share of tough opponents, but Johnson won this weight last year despite entering with 10 defeats.
171: Shane Rodenburg, Kent City senior (53-0) – The four-year standout has gradually moved up the podium at the Finals, from fifth at 160 as a freshman to third at 171 as a sophomore and second at that weight last season; he stands 213-14 for his career.
189: Brody Conner, Lawton senior (54-0) – Like his teammate Barkovich, Connor is hoping to add a title to his fine run after taking third at 171 last season and fifth at 152 pounds as a sophomore.
215: Jacob Cooper, Springport senior (51-0) – Last season’s champion at 189 can finish with a crowning achievement and first perfect season to go also with his title at 160 pounds as a sophomore and runner-up finish at 145 as a freshman.
215: Kevin Koenig, Laingsburg junior (53-1) – He should be Cooper’s main competition, and the other way around as Koenig is the reigning champion at 215 and finished runner-up at that weight as a freshman.
285: Ryan Prescott, Whittemore-Prescott senior (27-0) – The champion at 285 the last two seasons and runner-up in 2012 hasn’t lost since his sophomore year and is 147-4 for his career entering the weekend.
Other 2014 runners-up: Hudson junior Roddy Hamdan (119, 40-7, 112 in 2014), Hesperia senior Trenton Roesly (140, 36-5, 135 in 2014), Manchester senior Brendan Abrigo (112, 47-1, 103 in Division 3 in 2014), Carson City-Crystal senior Alex Young (140, 37-4, 135 in Division 3 in 2014 for Portland).
Also undefeated: Montrose senior Arthur Payne (47-0, 119), New Lothrop junior Cole Hersch (48-0, 135), New Lothrop junior Steven Garza II (38-0, 145), Carson City-Crystal senior Dillen Decker (54-0, 160), Bangor sophomore Devon Kozel (43-0, 215).
More of note: Dansville freshman Anthony Mack (46-2, 103), Erie-Mason sophomore Robert Lefevre (23-2, 112), Dansville junior Clay Ragon (50-4, 125), New Lothrop junior Steven Garza II (38-0, 145), Decatur senior Hunter Bell (52-1, 152), Carson City-Crystal senior Dillen Decker (54-0, 160).
PHOTO: Whittemore-Prescott’s Ryan Prescott celebrates a championship-clinching pin to end last season’s Division 4 match at 285 pounds. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)