D1 Preview: DCC Ready for Challengers

February 22, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

For nearly two seasons, no high school team in Michigan has been able to take down reigning Division 1 champion Detroit Catholic Central.

This weekend’s MHSAA Finals at Kalamazoo’s Wings Events Center would be the time and place for aspiring challengers to emerge.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 1, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 2:15 p.m. 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.

#1 Detroit Catholic Central

Record/rank: 26-1, No. 1
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League
Coach: Mitch Hancock, 11th season (244-44)
Championship history: Twelve MHSAA championships (most recent 2017), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Benyamin Kamali (28-1) sr., 125 Stone Moscovic (31-7) sr., Dominick Lomazzo (31-9) fr., 130 Joshua Edmond (17-0) soph., 135 Derek Gilcher (32-5) soph., 140 Logan Sanom (37-7) soph., 145 Kevon Davenport (35-2) jr., 145 Joseph Urso (32-9) jr., 152 Cameron Amine (37-2) jr., 171 Aidan Wagh (33-8) sr., 189 Brendin Yatooma (31-9) soph., 189 Rory Cox (35-5) sr., 215 Easton Turner (32-1) jr., 285 Steven Kolcheff (31-7) soph.
Outlook: DCC is seeking its fifth team championship in seven seasons and second straight season with only one loss; those lone defeats have come against Ohio power Lakewood St. Edward. The Shamrocks pulled off the rare accomplishment of qualifying 14 for the Individual Finals, although only 12 will compete at once this weekend because of multiples at two weights. Kamali, Davenport and Amine all are going for their third individual titles next weekend, while Gilcher, senior Devon Johnson (112, 20-8) and junior Rhett Newton (135, 14-3) also placed in 2017.

#2 Brighton

Record/rank: 31-3, No. 2
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association Gold
Coach: Tony Greathouse, fifth season (120-27)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2015.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Mason Shrader (34-3) fr., 112 Ben Manly (34-9) fr., 125 Eddie Homrock (41-7) soph., 125 Zach Johnson (42-7) fr., 135 Aiden Brown (28-14) soph., 140 Dane Donabedian (35-5) soph., 145 Nick Bleise (40-9) sr., 145 Victor Grabowski (36-10) jr., 160 Harley Berne (35-12) soph., 189 Greyson Stevens (42-6) soph., 215 Luke Stanton (36-9) soph.
Outlook: Brighton’s young lineup is rising fast, as it’s moved up to the second seed from eighth a year ago and with nine underclassmen among 11 individual qualifiers. Total only two seniors start, and Bleise was one of the team’s two Individual Finals placers a year ago. Brighton also won the overall KLAA title this winter ahead of fourth seed Westland John Glenn and seventh seed Hartland.

#3 Macomb Dakota

Record/rank: 29-2, No. 3
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Coach: Ed Skowneski, sixth season (177-38)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Brendan Ferretti (47-4) fr., 103 Brock Prater (45-3) soph., 112 Nick Alayan (44-1) jr., 119 Justin Tiburcio (46-5) jr., 125 Connor Casey (35-9) sr., 125 Andrew Barrett (32-16) jr., 135 Brandon Alkazir (33-14) jr., 140 Tommy Gawlowski (25-5) sr., 160 Dustin Solomon (29-3) jr.,
171 Layne Malczewski (50-0) sr., 171 Eli Andary (35-15) jr., 285 Rahmi Khalil (45-5) sr.
Outlook: Dakota enters the Quarterfinals for the fifth time under Skowneski and as the third seed for the second straight year. The Cougars gave up a total of 34 points over four matches in the District and Regional and have upped their total number of Individual Finals qualifiers for the second straight season. Alayan was an individual runner-up last year, while Tiburcio, Solomon, Malczewski and Khalil all placed as well. 

#4 Westland John Glenn

Record/rank: 25-3, No. 4
League finish: First in KLAA Black
Coach: Bill Polk, 20th season (384-118)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Caleb Meekins (44-8) jr., 125 Michael Mars (48-0) sr., 130 Isaac Lefler (43-6) sr., 140 Anthony Gibson (46-3) sr., 145 Brenten Polk (37-13) jr.
Outlook: After repeating as a KLAA division champion, John Glenn will return to the Finals for the second straight season. Mars will compete for his third individual championship next weekend after finishing as a runner-up in 2017, and Gibson and junior Kyle Borthwell (125, 37-4) also placed last year. Although all of the Individual Finals qualifiers this time fill the lighter half of the lineup, the heavier half features seven upperclassmen including five seniors.

#5 Davison

Record/rank: 24-5, No. 5
League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League.
Coach: Roy Hall, 20th season (519-94-1)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2006), five runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Steven Garty (32-8) jr., 112 Andrew Chambal (29-1) soph., 125 James Johnston (24-11) fr., 130 Raymond Cole (15-11) jr., 135 Marc Shaeffer (33-6) soph., 152 Brian Case (38-7) jr., 152 Alex Facundo (25-0) fr., 160 Jay Nivison (29-4) soph. 171 Cal Stefanko (35-0) jr., 189 Trevor McGowan (32-10) jr., 285 Aaron Gilmore (33-6) jr.
Outlook: After two straight runner-up finishes (and four in five years), Davison is the fifth seed this weekend – but a dangerous one with 11 individual qualifiers. Case placed at the Individual Finals the last two years and was joined last season by Garty, Chambal, Stefanko, Gilmore and now-sophomore Jaron Wilson (119, 15-9). And this isn’t it for this group – there are no seniors in the starting lineup and only one who has competed this season.

#6 Oxford

Record/rank: 20-7, No. 7
League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Ron Wingert, first season (20-7)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2011, two runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Matthew Oxford (33-12) jr., 112 Ashton Anderson (38-12) fr., 119 Liam Hillary (35-13) jr., 135 Sergio Borg (43-5) sr., 145 Ryan Miller (38-7) sr., 152 Trent Myre (30-6) jr., 160 Caleb Tabert (35-7) jr., 189 Austin Schlicht (42-11) jr.
Outlook: After building a championship-filled legacy under retired coach Paul McDevitt, Oxford has continued under Wingert with an 11th straight league title and 13th District championship over the last 14 seasons. Borg, Miller and junior Devin Trevino (171, 40-6) were individual placers last season, Borg for his second straight. He and Miller are two of only four seniors, which should make Oxford an intriguing contender next season as well.

#7 Hartland

Record/rank: 32-4, No. 6
League finish: Tied for second in KLAA Gold
Coach: Todd Cheney, 26th season (732-105-2)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2016, five MHSAA runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Wyatt Nault (39-6) soph., 119 Corey Cavanaugh (47-4) jr., 125 Kyle Kantola (51-1) jr., 130 Carter Hankins (44-7) sr., 135 Greg Pietila (36-16) sr., 152 Tanner Culver (33-2) jr., 160 Reece Potter (30-4) jr., 160 River Shettler (40-2) jr.
Outlook: Hartland is back at the Quarterfinals for the 17th straight season, an incredible feat – especially for a team with just three senior starters. The Eagles gave up only 12 points total over their first three postseason matches before edging Walled Lake Central by eight to advance last week. Culver, Shettler, Nault and Kantola were Individual Finals placers last season, Kantola for the second straight.

#8 Hudsonville

Record/rank: 29-7, No. 9
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Mike Rottier, 11th season (195-121)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Kameron Kempker (41-3) sr., 135 Jack Samuels (44-1) jr., 145 James Samuels (29-10) jr., 152 Chase Mol (22-16) jr., 285 Seth Hoonhorst (44-2) sr.
Outlook: After missing the Quarterfinals last year, Hudsonville is back for the second time in three seasons and third time this decade. The Eagles emerged from close Regional wins over Grand Haven and Rockford paced by a veteran lineup expected to include three seniors and eight juniors this weekend. Jack Samuels and James Samuels both were individual placers in 2017.

PHOTO: Detroit Catholic Central’s Kevon Davenport (top) works against Brighton’s Victor Grabowski during last year's Finals weekend; their teams have the top two seeds in Division 1. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)