By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Dundee and Richmond have met in six of the last eight Division 3 Team Finals, but none carried as much anticipation as this weekend’s possible rematch is building.
Richmond claimed last season’s MHSAA title on a tie-breaker after the teams tied 28-28. They're expected to see each other again Saturday at Wings Events Center – although undefeated Remus Chippewa Hills is among six other quarterfinalists that will try to break through instead.
Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 3, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at noon 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: 14-3, No. 1
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Tim Roberts, 19th season (494-69-1)
Championship history: Nine MHSAA championships (most recent 2016), seven runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Austin Fietz (30-12) fr., 112 Tyler Swiderski (27-10) fr., 119 Jonathon White (29-10) jr., 125 Daniel Jaworski (22-11) sr., 130 Christian Killion (28-8) soph., 135 Stoney Buell (36-4) fr., 140 Grant Ott (27-8) jr., 145 McCallister McAvoy (30-10) jr., 152 Zachary Bellaire (36-7) sr., 160 Tylor Orrison (38-3) sr., 171 Jaxon Guinn (29-8) soph., 189 Kyle Reinhart (33-13) sr., 189 Kyle Motylinski (33-8) sr., 215 Brandon Whitman (40-0) sr.
Outlook: As noted above, Dundee led by six senior starters should be as motivated as ever. The team qualified all 14 wrestlers for the Individual Finals – headlined by three-time champ Whitman. Bellaire and Orrison also won MHSAA individual titles last season, and White and Killion placed. The Vikings gave up 11 points to No. 9 Ida in the District Final but shut out their other three postseason opponents.
Record/rank: 19-5, No. 2
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference
Co-coaches: Brandon Day, 14th season (428-93); Preston Treend, second season (46-7)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2017), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 JD Gross (22-8) soph., 112 Daniel McNichol (31-9) jr., 119 Josh Barton (24-13) soph., 135 Alec Ziza (24-9) sr., 140 Hayden Bastian (26-8) jr., 145 Ethan Wyatt (21-14) jr., 145 Alex Roberts (30-5) sr., 152 Eric Barr (16-4) jr., 160 David Kaltz (22-7) sr., 189 Luke Davis (35-8) soph., 215 Colton McKiernan (37-1) sr., 285 Tyler Marino (25-4) sr.
Outlook: This will make a decade of consecutive Quarterfinals appearances for the Blue Devils, who eliminated No. 6 Algonac in the District along the way. McKiernan and Marino were Individual Finals runners-up last season, and Roberts also placed. Those three are among five senior starters and nine upperclassmen total expected to take the mat.
#3 Remus Chippewa Hills
Record/rank: 23-0, No. 3
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association Gold
Coach: Nate Ethridge, 18th season (515-93)
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2016.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Carson Hayes (40-7) fr., 125 Bray Haynes (36-7) jr., 145 Austin Young (43-5) sr., 152 Jaycob Sharp (9-2) sr., 171 Robert Granberry (40-5) sr., 189 Chayton Wiggins (37-7) soph. 215 Jared Bean (33-8) sr., 215 Billy Koepf (37-3) sr., 285 Andrew Vinton (35-7) sr., 285 Colby Roosa (37-5) fr.
Outlook: After breaking through to the championship match for the first time in 2016, Chippewa Hills fell to Dundee by just six points in last year’s Semifinal. The Warriors haven’t lost again. Sharp was an Individual Finals runner-up as a sophomore and a placer last winter, along with Granberry. The tough part is two of this year’s 10 qualifiers likely won’t compete in a given match – Chippewa Hills has multiple at both 215 and 285. But nine expected starters have at least 30 wins, as do four subs.
Record/rank: 30-3, No. 4
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference
Coach: Cliff Sandee, 11th season (261-39)
Championship history: Lower Peninsula Class C runner-up 1984.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 135 Tom Balakovitz (40-8) sr., 145 Trenton Blanchard (40-9) jr., 160 Derek McCollom (36-8) sr., 171 Kayleb Venema (46-4) soph., 189 Allen Powers (45-4) jr.
Outlook: Whitehall nearly broke into the Semifinals for the second season in a row last year, and a team with six senior starters is forecast to advance this time after coming in seeded fifth the last two Quarterfinals. Powers and junior Sam Baustert (112, 37-9) were individual placers a year ago, and senior past qualifier Josh Thommen (145, 15-6) also reportedly will return to the lineup this weekend after missing earlier rounds with an injury.
#5 Birch Run
Record/rank: 32-2, No. 5
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference East
Coach: Mike Miller, third season (88-11)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Christian Miller (40-14) soph., 119 Mac Breece (53-3) soph., 130 Kyle Parlberg (34-18) jr., 140 Mason Breece (52-3) sr., 152 Trenton Naragon (46-6) jr., 189 Brockton Cook (52-4) jr.
Outlook: This will be Birch Run’s fifth trip to the Semifinals over the last seven seasons after the Panthers missed a year ago. They gave up an average of just 16 points over their four District and Regional matches. Mason Breece, Mac Breece and Miller all placed at the Individual Finals last season and bolster an expected lineup with just three seniors but five 40-match winners.
Record/rank: 25-9, unranked
League finish: Second in Wolverine Conference
Coach: Colin Burandt, third season (52-25)
Championship history: Two MHSAA runner-up finishes (most recent 1998).
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Kody Walker (45-6) sr., 189 Justin Lyle (41-11) sr.
Outlook: Dowagiac will return to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2004 after upsetting No. 7 Lake Odessa Lakewood in the Regional Final. The Chieftains have more than doubled their number of wins from last season under Burandt, previously a Finals individual placer and later assistant coach at Niles. Walker is one of four seniors in the expected lineup and was a Finals placer in 2017.
Record/rank: 32-9, No. 8
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference Central
Co-coaches: Randy Miniard, seventh season (153-85)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Nolan Rodriguez (39-9) fr., 119 Dametrius Castillo (33-6) fr., 130 Jarrett Ferman (41-11) soph., 152 Justin VanBlaricum (40-15) soph., 285 Greg Simmons (35-6) sr.
Outlook: A year after leading Alma to its first league title since 1992, Miniard has the Panthers at the MHSAA Quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Five seniors are joined by nine underclassmen, including five freshmen, in the expected starting lineup. Alejandro Rosas (140, 32-5) didn’t make the Individual Finals this season but was a placer in 2017.
#8 Comstock Park
Record/rank: 22-10, unranked
League finish: Third in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue
Coach: Jim Olson, 30th season (457-225)
Championship history: Class C champion 1974, runner-up 1980.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Bailey Borgeld (41-7) jr., 130 Zion Taylor (42-8) jr., 135 Austin Sanders (32-13) jr., 140 Christian Maldonado (39-11) jr., 160 Nick Brill (27-14) sr., 215 Joe Nagle (48-0) sr.
Outlook: Comstock Park last made the Quarterfinals in 2015, in Division 2, and also has won three District titles over the last four seasons. Nagle and Borgeld also were Individual Finals qualifiers last year and help pace a lineup with seven 30-win wrestlers.
PHOTO: Dundee’s Christian Killion (left) and Richmond’s Alec Ziza locked up for a 1-0 decision win for Killion at 125 pounds during last season’s Division 3 Final. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)