D2 Preview: Rematch Brewing Again

February 20, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

St. Johns and Lowell have met in the last two MHSAA Division 2 Team Wrestling Finals. St. Johns won both.

But the Red Arrows entered the postseason ranked No. 1 in the state poll and enter this weekend's Quarterfinals seeded number one – with St. Johns No. 2 and looking like the championship match opponent once again.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 2, listed by seed. Their Quarterfinal matches begin at 5:30 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at 11:45 Saturday morning and the championship match at 4 p.m. All matches this weekend will be streamed live on a subscription basis on MHSAA.TV. For results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page. Rankings below are from MichiganGrappler.com


Record/rank: 21-1, No. 1
League finish: First in O-K White
Coach: Dave Dean, ninth season (232-38) 
Championship history: Three MHSAA championships (most recent 2009), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Sam Russell (24-9) fr., 112 Lucas Hall (30-0) soph., 119 Zeth Dean (29-4) soph., 125 Derek Krajewski (23-8) sr., 130 Bailey Jack (28-4) sr., 135 Jordan Hall (27-3) jr., 160 Kanon Dean (26-6) sr., 171 Max Dean (28-1) soph.,189 Garett Stehley (25-1) sr., 215 Josh Colegrove (29-0) jr.
Lowell's only loss was to Illinois power Chicago Marist, and the Red Arrows own wins over Detroit Catholic Central and Richmond among others. Eight individuals won Regional titles last weekend, and Jack is a reigning Finals champion with Zeth Dean and Stehley runners-up in 2013. This run shows no signs of slowing, as Lowell has only four senior starters.


Record/rank: 18-2, No. 2
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Red
Coach: Derek Phillips, second season (37-6) 
Championship history: Four MHSAA championships (most recent 2013)
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Emilio Sanchez (33-15) fr.,112 Ian Parker (43-0) soph., 119 Lucas McFarland (36-13) fr., 130 Bret Fedewa (28-17) fr., 140 Zac Hall (45-0) sr., 145 Mark Bozzo (33-6) sr., 152 Logan Massa (44-0) jr., 160 Drew Wixson (27-7) jr.,171 Angus Arthur (40-0) jr., 215 Ty Wildmo (32-5) jr., 285 Jacob Gnegy (11-7) soph.
The Redwings’ only losses were to nationally-regarded teams from Ohio and Illinois, and Hall, Massa and Arthur all are reigning individual champions. Hall will compete next weekend to become the 18th in MHSAA history to win for individual titles. Parker hasn’t lost since falling in last season’s Division 2 individual championship match at 103. Hall and Bozzo are the only senior starters, so the trips to Battle Creek should continue.


Record/rank: 31-2, No. 3
League finish: Tied for first in Southeastern Conference
Coach: Joshua Lindeman, first season (31-2) 
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Ricky Azelton (48-3) sr., 112 Drew Marten (45-9) fr., 119 Robert Comar (43-12) sr., 140 Kyle Humphries (33-18) soph., 189 Kody McCrate (35-9) jr.,215 Landon Pelham (51-3) soph., 285 Preston Pelham (50-1) sr., 285 Kolin Connors (16-5) sr.  
Outlook: Tecumseh is back for its fourth straight Quarterfinal and first under Lindeman, who formerly coached Brooklyn Columbia Central and wrestled at Hudson. He inherited a lineup of half seniors with three more capable of subbing in. Azelton and both Pelhams were placers at last season’s Individual Finals.


Record/rank: 21-4, No. 4
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Todd Hesson, seventh season (162-68) 
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Andrew Flick (31-9) fr., 112 Brandon Meek (29-10) jr., 119 Josh Dayhuff (33-9) jr., 130 Darek Bullock-Mills (34-6) sr., 135 Noah Hall (35-6) jr., 140 Warren Smith (33-6) jr., 145 Quintin Smith (18-14) soph.
Outlook: A year after winning its first Regional since 1960, Niles has won a second straight and three straight Districts for the first time despite graduating some big-time contributors in the spring. Two Individual Finals runners-up are gone, but five starters are back from last season’s team that fell in the Semifinals – and 10 junior starters should gain valuable seasoning for another run in 2015.


Record/rank: 25-7, unranked
League finish: First in O-K Green
Coach: Tom Barker, second season (54-14) 
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Austin Krantz (39-9) sr., 112 Taylor Rambin (16-2) jr., 140 Nolan Waddell (46-5) sr., 145 Jaxon Smith (38-12) jr., 171 Joshua Lee (46-5) sr., 189 Ryan Vasbinder (43-7) fr.  
Outlook: Byron Center is back in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2009 and seeking its first Semifinal berth. After winning big in the District, the Bulldogs edged a solid pair, Eaton Rapids and Hastings, in the Regional. Barker has won 307 matches as a coach while also leading teams at Grand Rapids Union, Forest Hills Northern and Wyoming Park. Waddell was a Finals placer last season.


Record/rank: 19-11, unranked
League finish: Second in Macomb Area Conference Red
Coach: Greg Mayer, 14th season (259-211-1) 
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Joe Schindler (36-10) fr., 119 Al-Aminul Haque (31-17) sr., 125 Nick Pipes (43-5) sr., 135 Donald Janice (33-6) sr.
Outlook: Warren Woods Tower has had a solid run under Mayer and now assistant Russell Correll. The Titans won eight straight District titles from 2004-11 before missing the last two seasons and returning to the Regionals this month. This is their first trip to the Quarterfinals since 2007 and came in part via a three-point upset of No. 5 Ortonville-Brandon in the Regional Semifinal. Pipes also was an Individual Finals qualifier last season.


Record/rank: 20-1, No.6
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley Association
Coach: Steven Goss, sixth season (115-33) 
Championship history: Three MHSAA runner-up finishes.  
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Noah Schoenherr (35-9) fr., 119 Coby Moore (27-7) fr., 125 Blake Jackson (40-6) soph., 135 Thomas Schoenherr (40-4) soph., 140 Christian Schoenherr (13-4) jr., 189 Cody Okes (35-12) jr., 215 Jacob Alarie (40-5) sr. 
Outlook: Bay City Western is back in the Quarterfinals for the first time since its Semifinal run in 2002 and defeated No. 8 Greenville along the way. Christian Schoenherr was an Individual Finals runner-up last season and is part of a lineup that includes seven 30-match winners. Bay City Western has won five straight District titles under Goss, a 1978 graduate, former national Greco-Roman champion and coach at the U.S. Olympic Education Center in Marquette.


Record/rank: 22-9, unranked
League finish: Tied for first in Macomb Area Conference White
Coach: Bill Delia, 15th season (241-151-13) 
Championship history: MHSAA Class A champion 1994. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Garret Kaercher (43-8) soph., 135 Shawn Lindsey (31-12) soph., 145 Khannor Kaercher (44-6) jr., 160 Dierrien Perkins (37-10) soph., 285 Michael Abouya (38-7) sr.
Outlook: Lincoln’s rejuvenation continues this weekend with its second straight Quarterfinal appearance. The Abes have won or shared four straight league titles and won three straight District championships. Khannor Kaercher was an Individual Finals placer at 140 last season.

PHOTO: Lowell’s Lucas Hall (right) battles a New Lothrop opponent during their match earlier this season. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)