D2 Preview: Lowell Aims to be 3rd to 5

February 22, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

After becoming the fifth school in MHSAA history to win four straight Team Wrestling Finals last year, Lowell can become just the third to make it five consecutive this weekend at Wings Events Center.

The Red Arrows will be chasing the record for longest streak held by Davison 2002-06 and Hudson 2009-13, and are seeded No. 1 again heading into Friday’s Quarterfinals – but with last season’s runner-up Warren Woods Tower right behind at No. 2.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 2, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 6:45 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.


#1 Lowell

Record/rank: 17-4, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Coach: RJ Boudro, fourth season (86-11) 
Championship history: Seven MHSAA championships (most recent 2017), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Nick Korhorn (28-8) soph. 119 Dawson Jankowski (22-9) soph., 125 Zeth Strejc (21-9) fr., 130 Jeff Leach (24-7) jr., Doak Dean (29-9) fr., 135 Avry Mutschler (35-4) jr., James Fotis (30-10) soph., 145 Austin Boone (37-1) soph., 171 Austin Engle (30-7) sr., 189 Dave Kruse (35-3) sr., 215 Connor Nugent (33-11) sr., 215 Keigan Yuhas (15-1) sr., 285 Tyler Deloof (29-7) soph.
Outlook: Lowell will try to win a fifth straight Division 2 title led by a reigning individual champion in Boone and 2017 placers Leach, Mutschler and Kruse. They are four of nine Individual Finals qualifiers who also took the mat for last season’s championship match win over Warren Woods-Tower. The Red Arrows marched through the District and Regional rounds this time giving up a total of 34 points over four matches. Two of this year’s losses were to Division 1 top-ranked Detroit Catholic Central and Division 3 top-ranked Dundee.

#2 Warren Woods Tower

Record/rank: 25-5, No. 3
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Co-coaches: Greg Mayer and Russell Correll, 18th seasons (352-238)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2017.
Individual Finals qualifiers: Joe Haynes (40-4) fr., 112 Dru Wilson (34-14) fr., 119 David Stepanian (38-2) jr., 125 Chaise Mayer (46-1) jr., 145 Keff O’Connell (29-13) jr., 152 Jajuan Lovejoy (40-6) sr., 215 Joel Radvansky (38-4) jr., 285 CJ Sheir (30-17) jr.
 The Titans reached their first MHSAA championship match last year and gave Lowell a run before falling 32-21. Nine upperclassmen (but just three seniors) dominate the lineup, with Mayer a two-time Individual Finals runner-up and O’Connell, Lovejoy, Radvansky and senior Austin Frederick (152, 11-7) all placers a year ago. Haynes, Wilson, Stepanian and Mayer give the team strength at the lightest weights and are backed up by two more freshmen with at least 26 wins apiece this winter.

#3 Gaylord

Record/rank: 35-1, No. 4
League finish: First in Big North Conference
Coach: Jerry LaJoie, 24th season (666-131-2)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Chayse LaJoie (40-3) soph., 119 John Sosa (31-6) soph., 125 Derek Giallombardo (45-3) sr., 140 Jacob McKnight (33-6) soph., 160 Nick Brewster (22-8) sr., 171 Cade Foster (45-3) sr., 285 Joe Markham (44-4) sr.
Outlook: Gaylord got past nemesis and No. 8-ranked St. Johns at the Regional to return to the Quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons after missing a year ago. Chayse LaJoie is a reigning Individual Finals champion, and Markham, Sosa and Giallombardo also were placers in 2017. Nine expected starters have at least 30 wins, including three of five seniors who will take the mat – but seven starting sophomores indicate good things are yet to come as well.

#4 Eaton Rapids

Record/rank: 26-4, No. 5
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference White
Coach: Joe Ray Barry, sixth season (190-42)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 1999), nine runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers103 Robert Davids (33-5) fr., 125 Chris Haynes (35-9) soph., 135 Chad Haynes (30-8) soph., 140 Caleb Fish (43-2) soph., 152 Brayden McNamara (35-9) jr., 160 Austin O’Hearon (40-1) sr., 215 Dallas Price (28-12) sr.
 Eaton Rapids is back at the Quarterfinals for the first time since finishing Division 2 runner-up in 2015. After winning their District matches by a combined 147-3, the Greyhounds got past rival Mason and upset No. 2 DeWitt at the Regional. O’Hearon is a reigning individual champion but one of only three senior starters. Fish also was an Individual Finals placer last season and is one of seven underclassmen expected to take the mat.

#5 Stevensville Lakeshore

Record/rank: 21-1, No. 6
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Coach: Bruce Bittenbender, 48th season (911-256-2)
Championship history: Two MHSAA runner-up finishes (most recent 1994).
Individual Finals qualifiers: Riley Bettich (38-2) soph., 103 Bailey DeLaTorre (30-10) soph., 125 Shane Williams (33-7) soph., 140 Tony Williams (39-2) sr., 145 Kearri Myrick (25-10) sr., 160 Cody Carlisle (40-3) sr., 189 Ryan Rush (30-13) sr., 215 Zeke Rohl (29-10) soph., 285 Tyler Hill (34-2) sr.
Outlook: Lakeshore is back at the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012, led by the winningest coach in state wrestling history in Bittenbender. The Lancers got past rival and No. 7-ranked Niles at the District before giving up a total of 20 points in sweeping the Regional. Bettich was an individual runner-up last season and Tony Williams also placed at the Individual Finals. Interestingly, the starting lineup is split evenly between seniors and sophomores, and almost evenly with seniors at seven of the eight heaviest weights.

#6 Goodrich

Record/rank: 25-5, No. 9
League finish: First in the Genesee Area Conference
Coach: Kenneth Sirignano, eighth season (record N/A) 
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 2009), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Caleb Teague (38-4) jr., 125 Carson Turnbow (32-12) jr., 160 James Penfold (11-1) jr., 171 Juwan Vines (31-8) soph., 189 Honour Kline (40-4) jr., 285 Blake Coffell (38-5) jr.
 Goodrich had a nice run in Division 3 over the previous two decades with all four of its championship match appearances between 1997-2009. This is the Martians’ second Quarterfinal trip in Division 2 after they also made it in 2016, and they haven’t let an opponent get closer than 19 points during this postseason run. Coffell and Kline were Individual Finals placers last season.

#7 Allendale

Record/rank: 35-7, unranked
League finish: First in O-K Blue
Coach: Duane Watson, 30th season (606-235)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers125 Asher Meekhof (46-7) sr., 135 Gabe TeBos (45-6) sr., 145 Nathan Wynsma (43-4) jr., 160 Dillon Reeder (29-13) jr., 215 Jordan DeGroot (43-8) soph., 285 Adam Ginn (30-12) sr.
Outlook: Allendale will make its second straight Quarterfinals appearance after giving up 40 points total over four District and Regional matches. The Falcons are bringing six Individual Finals qualifiers instead of five a year ago, when they entered the weekend seeded fifth. Wynsma was an individual placer last season and Meekoff placed in 2016 – the latter is one of nine senior starters.

#8 Tecumseh

Record/rank: 24-7, unranked
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference White
Coach: A.J. Marry, third season (62-29)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Vincent Perez (49-0) jr., 119 Joshua Hilton (41-15) jr., 125 Kellen Patton (39-7) jr., 140 Kyle Yuhas (38-13) soph., 160 Gabe Bechtol (34-8) sr., 171 Clayton Boatright (24-21) jr., 189 Ryan Roberts (47-6) sr.
Outlook: It’s tough to imagine a more accomplished No. 8 seed. Tecumseh will be wrestling in its seventh Quarterfinal in eight seasons, bringing in seven Individual Finals qualifiers – one more than last year’s team that fell to Lowell 41-20 in the opener. Patton was a repeat individual placer last season and Perez also placed at the Individual Finals – and both are among 11 starters who should return for another run in 2019 as well.

PHOTO: Lowell’s Keigan Yuhas and Warren Woods Tower’s Jajuan Lovejoy lock up during last season’s Division 2 championship match. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)