D3 Preview: Past Champs Favored Again

February 24, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Only four teams have competed in MHSAA Division 3 team championship matches this decade.

And not surprisingly, those four programs have the top four seeds heading into this weekend's Quarterfinals at Central Michigan University. 

Top-seeded Richmond and second-seeded Dundee both have won three of the last six titles in this division. Third-seeded Remus Chippewa Hills and fourth-seeded Lake Fenton each have advanced to the final round once during that time and are expected to make the push again.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 3, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and the championship match at 6 p.m. All matches this weekend will be streamed live on a subscription basis on MHSAA.tv. For Friday’s schedule and results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page.

The MHSAA Wrestling Finals are presented by the Michigan Army National Guard

NOTE: There are only seven quarterfinalists in Division 3, and Richmond received a bye for Friday after Mount Morris vacated its Regional title because it used a wrestler at a weight for which he was not eligible.

#1 Richmond

Record/rank: 27-2, No. 2
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference
Co-coaches: Brandon Day, 13th season (409-87); Preston Treend, first season (27-2) 
Championship history: 
Seven MHSAA championships (most recent 2015), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Austin Kilburn (32-6) fr., 112 Roy Costello (36-7) sr., 125 Alec Ziza (19-15) jr., 140 Gary Resk (24-12) sr., 145 Alex Roberts (28-11) jr., 160 David Kaltz (34-13) jr., 189 Colton McKiernan (42-4) jr., 215 Tyler Marino (42-5) jr.
 Richmond returns to the Quarterfinals for the ninth straight season and after getting past league rival and No. 10 Algonac along the way. The Blue Devils were slightly upset a year ago, falling as a four seed to fifth-seeded Whitehall in the weekend’s first match, but they return with a lineup boasting 10 upperclassmen. Costello, Roberts and McKiernan all were individual placers in 2016.

#2 Dundee

Record/rank: 18-4, No. 1
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Tim Roberts, 18th season (478-65-1)
Championship history: 
Nine MHSAA championships (most recent 2016), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Jonathon White (27-15)  soph., 119 Christian Killion (24-9) fr., 119 Daniel Jaworski (28-14) jr., 140 Zachary Bellaire (32-4) jr., 145 Tylor Orrison (35-5) jr., 152 Alex Motylinski (31-4) sr., 160 Sean Sterling (22-0) sr., 171 Kyle Motylinski (32-12) jr., 189 Kyle Reinhart (35-11) jr., 189 Brandon Whitman (38-0) jr.
 Dundee climbed back to the top of Division 3 last winter with its third championship in four years and entered this postseason ranked No. 1. The Vikings shut out two opponents and gave up a combined nine points to the other two on the way back to CMU. Whitman has won two straight MHSAA individual titles, last season at 189, and Sterling is the reigning champion at 152. Orrison and Alex Motylinski also placed last year.

#3 Remus Chippewa Hills

Record/rank: 27-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association Gold
Coach: Nate Ethridge, 17th season (491-92)
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2016.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Bray Haynes (42-9) soph., 119 Kaden Ellis (40-7) sr., 125 Mason Hayes (38-9) soph., 130 Brandon Russell (37-15) jr., 135 Nolan Saxton (52-0) sr., 152 Jaycob Sharp (45-8) jr., 160 David Spedowski (45-4) jr., 171 Robert Granberry (43-10) jr., 189 Luke Henderson (42-7) sr., 215 Billy Koepf (47-2) jr., 285 Andrew Vinton (31-10) jr.
 Chippewa Hills advanced to its first MHSAA Final last season and hardly has slowed this winter, entering the final weekend with only one loss for the second straight season and third time during Ethridge’s successful tenure. Eleven upperclassmen anchor the line-up; Sharp was the individual runner-up at 145 in 2016, while Spedowski, Koepf, Vinton and Hayes also placed.

#4 Lake Fenton

Record/rank: 33-5, No. 5
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference
Coach: Vance Corcoran, seventh season (221-58)
Championship history: 
Division 3 runner-up 2011.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 AJ Geyer (40-10) sr., 125 Hunter Corcoran (51-2) sr., 130 Jarrett Trombley (51-0) jr., 140 Sean Trombley (48-5) soph., 152 Jackson Nevadomski (52-1) jr., 171 Logan Julian (23-16) jr., 215 Ryan Franks (42-11) sr., 285 Trent Hillger (53-0) sr.
 This is Lake Fenton’s third trip to the Quarterfinals over the past four seasons, and after coming up just four points short of advancing in the Semifinals a year ago. The Blue Devils got past Chesaning by only six points to move on this time, an accomplishment since the team voids at 103 and 119. But Lake Fenton counters with serious star power; Hillger is the reigning champion at 285 and won 215 as a sophomore, while Jarrett Trombley is the reigning champion at 119 and Geyer was runner-up last season at 103. Corcoran, Sean Trombley and Nevadomski also placed individually in 2016.

#5 Whitehall

Record/rank: 20-3, No. 4
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference
Coach: Cliff Sandee, 10th season (231-36)
Championship history: Lower Peninsula
Class C runner-up 1984.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Sam Baustert (28-15) soph., 112 Hunter Bower (24-12) jr., 119 Haddan Young (30-17) jr., 125 Mitchell White (31-13) jr., 130 Trenton Blanchard (38-11) soph., 140 Josh Thommen (35-10) jr. 145 Allen Powers (32-13) soph., 152 Jojo Dowdell (39-9) sr., 160 Kayleb Venema (36-10) fr.
 Whitehall returns as the fifth seed for the second straight season and after making the Semifinals a year ago. Eight wrestlers have won at least 30 matches for a young lineup with only three seniors expected to start – the Vikings graduated two individual champions last spring. Dowdell also placed individually in 2016.

#6 Lake Odessa Lakewood

Record/rank: 29-6, No. 6
League finish: First in Greater Lansing Activities Conference
Coach: Bob Veitch, 38th season (749-178)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Kanon Atwell (33-9) fr., 119 Cole Jackson (37-6) jr., 125 Jon Maag (32-6) jr., 152 Vern Fields (27-14) fr., 160 Jon Clack (37-10) fr., 171 Daniel Thompson (40-1) sr., 215 Jacob Kelley (35-10) sr., 285 Luke Tromp (38-6) sr.  
 Lakewood is back at the Quarterfinals for the seventh time under Veitch but first since 2011. Along the way, the Vikings posted an impressive 52-17 District Final win over No. 9 Delton Kellogg. There are only four seniors on the team, but all four have won at least 35 matches; Thompson is the reigning champion at 171. Jackson also placed last season.

#7 Caro

Record/rank: 28-7, unranked
League finish: Second in Tri-Valley Conference East
Co-coaches: Joe Fulton and William Green, first seasons (28-7) 
Championship history: Division 3 champion 2003, two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 John Botkins (53-6) soph., 125 Blain Wood (51-3) jr., 135 Patrick Ford (35-2) sr., 140 DJ Daniels (53-3) soph.
 Caro is back at the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012 after surviving a run that included a three-point win over Freeland and a six-pointer over Beaverton. Fulton and Green are former Caro wrestlers who took over the program after previously coaching at lower levels. Wood was individual runner-up at 112 last season. 

PHOTO: Caro, here against Millington, will return to the MHSAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012. (Click to see more from Varsity Monthly.)