By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A pair of reigning MHSAA individual champions met in Saturday’s Division 2 Team Final pitting Lowell and St. Johns.
The Redwings' Ian Parker just got the best of the Red Arrows’ Zeth Dean, 3-0, although Lowell ended up the team champion at Central Michigan University. But the last time they both competed at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Parker left with the 125-pound title and Dean won at 130.
They are two of 10 contenders we’ve broken out below among many to watch this weekend at the Division 2 Individual Finals. 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. And come back to Second Half this weekend as we’ll interview all 14 title winners.
112: Cameron Mahlich, Ionia junior (38-2) – Last season’s champion at 103 finished only second at his Regional last month, but his only other loss this season came in December.
112: Austin Franco, Stevensville Lakeshore senior (43-0) – Franco fell 14-10 in last season’s Final at this weight to Gaylord’s Dominic LaJoie (see below) and it was Franco’s only loss; he defeated Mahlich (see above) in the Regional this time.
119: Dominic LaJoie, Gaylord junior (58-0) – Undefeated at this point for the second time in three seasons, LaJoie is going for his third individual championship after winning 112 a year ago.
125: Lucas Hall, Lowell senior (28-0) – Fresh off being part of a third-straight team championship last weekend, Hall can finish his high school career with a third-straight individual title after winning at 119 last season; he’ll wrestle next at Michigan State University.
140: Zeth Dean, Lowell senior (29-5) – He won last season at 130 pounds and was runner-up at 112 as a freshman, and he'll go on to compete for Harvard.
140: Ian Parker, St. Johns senior (45-2) – After helping the Redwings back to the Division 2 Team Final, Parker can end a champion once more on his way to continue at Iowa State.
145: Austin Melton, DeWitt senior (51-1) – The 2014 champion at 135 narrowly missed a second title last winter, falling 7-5 in the Final at 140; he’s the top seed at 145 this weekend.
189: Max Dean, Lowell senior (33-0) – The cousin of Zeth and younger brother of graduated Lowell star Gabe, Max has starred as well, winning 171 as a sophomore before missing last season with an injury. Like Gabe, he'll next suit up at Cornell.
215: Landon Pelham, Tecumseh senior (50-0) – Last season’s third-place finisher at this weight is the favorite this time and will continue his career after at Central Michigan.
285: Isaiah Espinoza, Adrian senior (43-1) – He made an unexpected run to runner-up at this weight last season, finishing with a record of only 18-7, but won’t surprise anyone this time.
Other 2015 runners-up: Gaylord senior Trevor Giallombardo (112, 53-5, 103 in 2015), Warren Woods Tower junior Elijuh Weaver (112, 54-1, D1 103 for Roseville in 2015), Owosso senior Emilio Campos (112, 39-6, D3 103 for Corunna in 2015) Parma Western junior Luke Raczkowski (135, 45-4, 130 in 2015), Parma Western senior Chase Veydt (140, 39-4, 135 in 2015), Eaton Rapids senior Clayton Higelmire (215, 41-2, 215 in 2015).
Also undefeated: Riverview senior Brandon Garcia (152, 51-0), Warren Lincoln junior Jelani Embree (171, 43-0), Cedar Springs junior Patrick DePiazza (285, 49-0).
More of note: Parma Western freshman Cory Gamet (103, 11-1), Ortonville Brandon senior Brendan Ladd (130, 52-3), Goodrich senior Nathan Ellis (135, 48-3), Ortonville Brandon senior Bryan LaVearn (140, 53-2), Sparta senior Joel Rees (152, 45-1), Warren Lincoln senior Deirrien Perkins (160, 37-1).
The MHSAA Wrestling Finals are presented by the Michigan Army National Guard.
PHOTO: Lowell’s Zeth Dean and St. Johns’ Ian Parker, right, locked up during last weekend’s Division 2 Team Final. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)