By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Eight wrestlers who have won a combined 12 MHSAA individual championships will take the mat during this weekend’s Individual Finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Among the many finishing high school careers are two hoping to do so with third high school titles – Clio’s Mason Smith and St. Johns’ Logan Massa.
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 2 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: Dominic LaJoie, Gaylord sophomore (33-2) – LaJoie is 83-2 over his first two seasons after winning the championship at 103 last season, and he helped his team to the MHSAA Semifinals last weekend in Battle Creek.
119: Lucas Hall, Lowell junior (35-1) – Although his undefeated streak came to an end – Hall was perfect in winning 112 last winter – he’s 112-8 over three seasons and that lone 2013-14 loss came to two-time Division 3 champ Devin Schroder of Grand Rapids Catholic Central.
135: Mason Smith, Clio senior (44-0) – Smith hasn’t lost since his freshman season, claiming titles at 112 and 119 pounds and building a career record of 203-6; he also finished fourth at 103 as a freshman.
140: Austin Thompson, Marysville senior (46-1) – This weight class is loaded and Thompson might be the favorite after winning 130 last season; his only loss this winter came to GRCC two-time champ Nate Limmex.
140: Austin Melton, DeWitt junior (38-4) – He’s another reigning champion wrestling this weekend at 140, having claimed the title at 135 last season after also making the MHSAA Finals at that weight as a freshman.
140: Noah Hanau, Stevensville Lakeshore senior (49-0, 140) – The lone undefeated wrestler at 140 has qualified for four MHSAA Finals and placed fourth at 130 pounds as a sophomore before finishing just outside the top eight last season at 135.
152: Connor Myers, St. Joseph senior (26-0) – The Bears’ standout has been building toward this final run with third-place finishes at this weight both of the last two seasons.
160: Logan Ritchie, New Boston Huron senior (54-1) – This is Ritchie’s third season at this weight; he finished fourth as a sophomore before winning the title last year, and also finished sixth at 145 as a freshman.
171: Logan Massa, St. Johns senior (33-0) – Only an overtime Finals loss to Ada Forest Hills Eastern standout Tim Lambert in 2012 is keeping Massa from wrestling for a fourth title this weekend – he won at 135 as a sophomore and 152 as a junior and hasn’t lost since his first season.
215: Josh Colegrove, Lowell senior (36-0) – The reigning champion at this weight has only one loss over the last two seasons and also finished third at this weight as a freshman.
Other 2014 runners-up: Ortonville-Brandon junior Bryan LaVearn (125, 40-2, 112 in 2014), Flint Kearsley senior Jakob Chapman (119, 44-3, 119 in 2014), Eaton Rapids senior Jaeden Sklapsky (135, 52-2, 130 in 2014).
Also undefeated: Stevensville Lakeshore freshman Austin Franco (46-0, 112), Farmington Hills Harrison senior Michael Volyanyuk (42-0, 119), Hastings senior Jason Slaughter (49-0, 152), Warren Lincoln sophomore Jelani Embree (41-0, 171), Dearborn Heights Annapolis senior Diallo Matsimela (50-0, 189).
More of note: Ionia sophomore Cameron Mahlich (35-2, 103), St. Johns junior Ian Parker (35-2, 125), Lowell junior Zeth Dean (34-3, 130), Riverview junior Brandon Garcia (52-3, 145), St. Johns senior Ty Wildmo (36-3, 189), Greenville senior Cole Antcliff (45-1, 285).
PHOTO: Clio’s Mason Smith grapples toward his second MHSAA championship at last season’s Individual Finals. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)