By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Hudson and New Lothrop have met for the Division 4 championship the last four seasons, and last year even as the Hornets entered Finals weekend unranked.
But a look at the overall strength of this year’s quarterfinalists signals a new contender could rise.
For example, 66 Individual Finals qualifiers will take the mat for Friday’s Division 4 Quarterfinals, beginning at noon. That’s compared to 55 individual qualifiers a year ago – and three reigning MHSAA champions will be among those to watch as competition gets rolling at Wings Events Center for the first time.
Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 4, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at noon Friday, with Semifinals at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and the championship match that afternoon at 3:30 p.m. All matches this weekend will be viewable live on a subscription basis on MHSAA.tv. For Friday’s schedule and results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page.
Record/rank: 17-5, No. 1
League finish: Second in Lenawee Country Athletic Association
Coach: Scott Marry, 30th season (769-180)
Championship history: Six MHSAA championships (most recent 2017), three runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Dallas Pibbles (25-10) soph., 103 Caden Natale (27-7) fr., 119 CJ Berro (28-16) fr., 125 Scott Torres (43-4) sr., 130 Jordan Hamdan (45-0) jr., 130 Tyler Curtis (20-15) sr., 140 Carson Price (43-3) jr., 145 Jorge Sereno (27-18) jr., 152 John Betz (27-15) jr., 189 Spencer Blanco (27-9) jr., 215 Kyle Moll (15-14) soph.
Outlook: Hudson took home the champion’s trophy again last winter after three straight runner-up finishes, and a team with only two seniors among its expected starters could be gearing up for another multi-year run. Hamdan is a two-time Individual Finals champion, and he and his team have battled another schedule filled with larger schools including league foe and reigning Division 3 runner-up Dundee. The Tigers beat No. 9 Addison in their Regional Final.
Record/rank: 32-4, No. 2
League finish: First in Tri-County Conference
Coach: Jeff Rolland, fifth season (133-37)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 AJ Baxter (49-2) fr., 125 Noah Comar (52-2) jr., 125 Spencer Konz (37-10) fr., 130 Anthony Stockdale (30-22) sr., 140 Riley Jeffrey (37-15) jr., 145 Jeffrey Konz (35-13) jr., 160 Brayden Randolph (45-3) fr., 171 Eathan Hicks (40-9) sr., 171 Cecil Rafferty (25-19) jr., 189 Trent Sexton (39-10) sr., 285 Don Stump (45-8) sr.
Outlook: This is Clinton’s third trip to the Quarterfinals in five seasons under Rolland, and the then-seventh seeded Redskins missed upsetting second-seeded Leroy Pine River last year by only two points. Similar to Hudson, only four of Clinton’s expected starters are seniors, but Comar is another veteran leader with an Individual Finals championship from last season and runner-up finish from 2016. Clinton beat No. 4 Manchester in its Regional Final.
#3 Carson City-Crystal
Record/rank: 38-3, No. 5
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Kacy Datema, eighth season (195-66)
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up 2000 and 2001.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Nolan Datema (41-3) jr., 119 Jamison Ward (47-1) soph., 125 Jaron Johnson (32-6) fr., 130 Aiden Adkins (43-6) soph., 135 Daryn Shepler (39-11) jr., 145 Braxton Seida (45-3) jr., 189 Daniel Smith (43-2) jr., 215 Brian Yeakey (40-6) soph.
Outlook: Make it six straight league and District titles and the second straight Regional championship for the Eagles, who downed No. 10 Hesperia to advance and posted a pair of shutouts in their District. Ward and Seida are returning Individual Finals runners-up from last season, and six of eight qualifiers this season also qualified a year ago for a team that still has only three seniors among expected starters.
Record/rank: 30-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Southwest 10 Conference
Coach: Caleb Stephenson, second season (46-8)
Championship history: Class D champion 1991, runner-up 1990.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Nik Andaverde (48-3) sr., 130 Kody Drewer (33-9) jr., 135 Skyler Crespo (50-1) soph., 135 Wyatt Diekman (36-13) soph., 140 Eric Vergauwen (11-3) soph., 145 Kaden Frye (26-2) sr., 171 Wyatt Cool (48-2) sr., 215 Emmett Bingaman (43-6) soph.
Outlook: Mendon will wrestle in its first Quarterfinal since the 1991 championship season, when Stephenson’s father Art Stephenson was the coach. Crespo earned the program’s first Individual Finals championship last season since 1991 as well. Andaverde, Cool and Bingaman also made the Finals a year ago, giving the Hornets their most qualifiers at the time since, again, 1991.
#5 Leroy Pine River
Record/rank: 29-6, No. 7
League finish: First in Mid-Michigan Wrestling Conference
Coach: Tim Jones, 19th season (531-123)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1991.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Caleb Nolf (28-19) soph. 119 Dylan Stephens (39-9) sr., 125 Jordan Koetje (24-11) soph., 125 Tyler Signor (29-8) sr., 130 Jac Roberts (39-12) sr., 140 Andy Park (48-1) sr., Brocko Nelson (42-7) soph., 189 TJ Rizor (32-6) soph., 285 Bryan McCurry (37-14) jr.
Outlook: Pine River has made the Semifinals two straight seasons and more recently ran its record under Jones to include 18 league and District titles. The Bucks, who also have just three seniors among expected starters, held their District and Regional opponents to an average of 11 points the last two weeks. Seven of this season’s Individual Finals qualifiers also reached the final weekend a year ago, and six were Division 4 placers.
#6 New Lothrop
Record/rank: 23-3, No. 6
League finish: Second in Genesee Area Conference
Coach: Jeff Campbell, 17th season (431-82)
Championship history: 15 MHSAA championships (most recent 2016), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Andrew Krupp (27-15) fr., 119 Logan Wolford (31-14) soph., 125 Logan Zell (30-19) jr., 140 Austin Wolford (46-1) jr., 152 Zack Riley (27-11) jr., 171 Justin Carnahan (34-5) soph., 189 Allan Jamick (33-15) jr., 215 Garrett Birchmeier (19-13) jr., 285 Cameron Dusenberry (28-17) sr.
Outlook: The rest of Division 4 should be cautious of the Hornets, who rose from the sixth seed and unranked last season to finish runner-up. New Lothrop is only slightly higher-regarded this time as it seeks its fourth team title in five seasons. Austin Wolford and Carnahan were Finals placers last season as was senior Tommy Malloy (119, 33-11), one of only two seniors among expected starters.
Record/rank: 19-3, No. 8
League finish: First in Big 8 Conference
Coach: Matthew Darling, second season (37-7)
Championship history: Lower Peninsula Class D runner-up 1984.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Robert Paterson (32-14) fr., 112 Trenton Graddy, 23-19, jr. 135 Thomas Potter (36-9) soph., 152 Noah Teague (39-4) sr., 171 Zach Betz (29-13) sr., 215 Aaron Ludwig (31-15) jr., 285 Luke Overweg (41-2) sr.
Outlook: Springport has won league, District and Regional championships both seasons under Darling and just missed the Semifinals a year ago, falling five points shy of advancing. Despite graduating three of six Individual Finals qualifiers from last season, the Spartans actually will take seven to Detroit next weekend. Teague and Overweg were placers last season and are two of only three seniors expected to be in the starting lineup.
Record/rank: 18-6, unranked
League finish: First in North Star League.
Coach: Mark Grant, 16th season (record N/A)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 130 Teddy Peters (33-9) soph., 135 Matthew Grant (42-3) soph., 152 Coty Ionetz (29-8) jr.
Outlook: Onaway won its first Regional title to make championship weekend for the first time, edging Ishpeming Westwood by six in last week’s title match to advance. Grant was an Individual Finals placer last season and is among standouts on a roster with only one senior but nine underclassmen helping to fill out the lineup.
PHOTO: Leroy Pine River’s Jac Roberts (top) and Clinton's Riley Jeffrey are among standouts returning this weekend to the Division 4 Quarterfinals. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)