D3 Preview: Familiar Foes May Lock Again

February 25, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Dundee and Richmond have become predictable opponents for the MHSAA Division 3 championship match over the last few seasons.

They’ve faced off for the last three Division 3 titles, plus in four of the last five Finals for that division and five of the last eight. And heading into this weekend, they own the top seeds again.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 3, 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. (Records below are based on those submitted for the Individual Finals.)

#1 Dundee

Record/rank: 23-5, No. 1
League finish: Tied for first in Lenawee County Athletic Association.
Coach: Tim Roberts, 16th season (437-60-1)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2014), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Drew Scholl (27-14) soph., 125 Tylor Orrison (35-16) fr., 130 Kenny Reinhart (45-5) sr., 130 Drew Mandell (17-5) jr., 135 Zach Blevins (48-1) jr., 145 Sean Sterling (42-4) soph., 160 Donny Mandell (40-4) sr., 171 Brandon Whitman (50-2) fr., 189 Tye Thompson (41-6) sr., 215 Gabe Heiserman (36-10) jr.
Outlook: The impressive numbers just keep building – 13 straight appearances at Kellogg Arena, two straight MHSAA championships after a seventh title match appearance in eight seasons. Reinhart, Donny Mandell, Blevins and Sterling all were Individual Finals placers last season, and Thompson was runner-up at 171 pounds. Reinhart, Mandell and Thompson are the only seniors in the lineup, meaning a third straight title might not be the last one of the current streak.

#2 Richmond

Record/rank: 29-5, No. 2
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference.
Coach: Brandon Day, 11th season (358-74)
Championship history: Six MHSAA championships (most recent 2012), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Roy Costello (36-8) soph., 112 Connor Behem (38-10) sr., 119 Aaron Kilburn (38-6) jr., 119 Cody Keller (30-17) jr., 130 Graham Barton (9-11) jr., 145 Austin Vannatter (37-8) sr., 152 Colton McKiernan (26-14) fr., 160 Devin Skatzka (47-2) sr., 171 Jordan Adams (37-8) sr., 189 Brady LaFore (25-16) sr., 285 Adam Boyd (35-11) sr.
Outlook: Richmond gave up a combined 23 points to four opponents in returning to the Quarterfinals for the seventh consecutive season. A group of nine seniors dominates the lineup including every weight from 140-285. Skatzka can enter an elite group of champions next weekend when he competes for his fourth Individual Finals title, and Behem, Kilburn and Vannatter also were placers in 2014.

#3 Remus Chippewa Hills

Record/rank: 26-3, No. 3
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association.
Coach: Nate Ethridge, 15th season (432-88)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Mike Felix (40-10) sr., 135 Slade Todd (41-13) jr., 140 Jaycob Sharp (49-4) fr., 145 Mason Dey (51-4) sr., 152 Kevin Briscoe (44-6) sr., 285 Kyle Vandenbrooks (35-14) sr.
Outlook: Chippewa Hills will compete in its eighth Quarterfinal over the last decade and for its second Semifinal berth (and first since 2007). The Warriors moved up from a sixth seed at last season’s Finals and defeated No. 5 Whitehall to advance this time. Briscoe and Dey placed fourth and sixth, respectively, at 145 pounds at last season’s Individual Finals and man a veteran half of the lineup that includes five seniors over the heaviest six weights. All but two starters have at least 32 wins.

#4 Saginaw Swan Valley

Record/rank: 39-1, No. 9
League finish: First in the Tri-Valley Conference Central.
Coach: Darrell Burchfield, 13th season (412-72)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Edwin Hernandez (48-8) jr., 119 Jose Hernandez (52-4) sr., 125 KJ Suitor (52-1) jr., 130 Matt Santos (52-1) jr., 140 Collin Dole (51-3) sr., 145 Gerad Bott (47-7) soph., 152 Sam McLean (47-5) sr.
Outlook: The Vikings are a combined 120-4 over the last three seasons and advanced to the Semifinals last season before falling to Dundee. Swan Valley edged No. 6 Caro 38-36 in the Regional Semifinal on the way to Battle Creek. Seven starters have at least 45 wins this season; four Individual Finals placers from last winter anchor the lineup, with Suitor returning after finishing runner-up at 112 in 2014.

#5 Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Record/rank: 19-3, No. 7
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference Gold.
Coach: B.J. Schroder, fourth season (73-15)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Devin Schroder (40-1) jr., 130 Kole Krauss (36-3) jr., 140 Nate Limmex (37-0) sr., 145 Foster Karmon (25-0) jr., 145 Dominic Forbes (30-10) jr., 215 Grant Tennihill (34-3) sr.
Outlook: B.J. Schroeder has led the Cougars to two league, three District and two Regional titles over the last three seasons, and GRCC just missed making its first Semifinal in 2014 with a four-point Quarterfinal loss to Swan Valley. Devin Schroder and Limmex are two-time MHSAA champions, and Limmex hasn’t lost a match since his freshman season. Tennihill also was a placer at last season’s Individual Finals and joins those two and junior Kole Krauss – a 2013 individual placer – among Cougars with at least 33 wins this winter. Karmon was an individual champ last season for Allegan.

#6 Allegan

Record/rank: 29-6, No. 8
League finish: First in Wolverine Conference.
Coach: Murray Rose, 28th season (718-151-2)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 2007 in Division 2), two runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Davynn Schneider (42-12) soph., 119 Richard Jefferson (30-16) soph., 125 Justin Wiseman (26-20) soph., 130 Joey Orr (32-13) jr., 171 Levin Sabin (47-7) jr., 189 Chase Beard (50-2) soph., 189 Austin Ferrell (39-12) jr.
Outlook: This is Allegan’s seventh straight trip to the Quarterfinals and second straight in Division 3 after a run in Division 2. Allegan also has made three straight Semifinals and is seeking its first championship match berth since 2010. Five juniors anchor the bottom of a lineup that could be on the verge of two special runs – the team doesn’t have a senior. Beard and Sabin were individual placers last winter.

#7 Birch Run

Record/rank: 22-9, No. 4
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference East.
Coach: Bart Bennett, eighth season (228-40)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Mason Breece (36-8) fr., 125 Jerry Fenner (47-3) sr., 130 Adam Grim (43-12) sr., 135 Joe Damm (35-18) jr., 140 Ean Taylor (33-9) sr., 145 Tyler Childs (32-10) jr., 160 Logan Bovee (33-8) jr., 215 George Lahar (46-3) sr., 285 Colin Slavik (39-9) sr.
Outlook: The Panthers missed Battle Creek last season but are making their third trip in four seasons to go with five straight league and six straight District titles. Fenner was an Individual Finals runner-up at 125 last season and Lahar also was a placer. They are two of only four seniors in a starting lineup that features 10 athletes with at least 30 wins this season.

#8 Mason County Central

Record/rank: 29-7, unranked
League finish: Third in West Michigan Conference.
Coach: Jim Allen, seventh season (128-78)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1979. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 135 Jacob Shoop (48-5) soph., 145 Logan Merrick (44-7) jr., 160 Spencer Knizacky (47-3) jr., 160 Jordan Steiger (41-7) sr., 189 Josh Quinn (49-3) sr., 285 Matt Quinn (40-13) soph.
Outlook: For the second straight season, Mason County Central is the last team standing from the loaded West Michigan Conference, which also includes annual powers Whitehall (ranked No. 5 in Division 3 heading into the postseason) and Shelby. Josh Quinn and Knizacky are returning Individual Finals placers and among six 40-match winners in the lineup. 

PHOTO: Dundee's Kenny Reinhart (left) and Richmond's Aaron Kilburn wrestled to a 5-4 decision (for Kilburn) in last season's Division 3 Final. Their teams could meet again this weekend.  (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)