By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Dundee and Richmond have met in seven of the last nine Division 3 Wrestling Finals, and it’s hardly a shock they are the top-seeded teams heading into this weekend at Kalamazoo’s Wings Event Center.
But there are potential spoilers waiting. Remus Chippewa Hills is only three seasons removed from a title match appearance, and Whitehall brings 10 Individual Finals qualifiers and a pair of coaches with championship experience as it looks to make a move toward the top.
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 noon Saturday and the championship match that afternoon at 3:45 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.
Record/rank: 24-2, No. 2
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference
Co-coaches: Brandon Day, 15th season (452-95); Preston Treend, third season (70-9)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2017), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Hunter Keller (22-4) soph., 112 Daniel McNichol (27-8) sr., 112 JD Gross (24-10) jr., 125 Austin Kilburn (22-6) jr., 130 Hunter Seguin (23-14) sr., 140 Hayden Bastian (26-5) sr., 145 Ethan Wyatt (16-11) sr., 171 Wesley Peters (30-11) fr., 215 Luke Davis (37-5) jr., 285 Dan McKiernan (29-14) soph.
Outlook: After winning the Division 3 Final in 2017 by tie-breaker criteria over Dundee, Richmond fell in the 2018 Final to Dundee 40-15. Among those back for possibly more are returning Finals placers McNichol, Bastian and junior Josh Barton. McNichol and Bastian are two of just four senior starters, but 13 starters and 14 Blue Devils total have at least 20 wins this winter. They once again eliminated No. 5 Algonac on the way to Kalamazoo.
Record/rank: 15-5, No. 1
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Tim Roberts, 20th season (512-74-1)
Championship history: Ten MHSAA championships (most recent 2018), seven runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Casey Swiderski (39-2) fr., 112. Austin Fietz (32-9) soph., 135 Jonathon White (32-9) sr., 135 Tyler Swiderski (22-10) soph., 140 Christian Killion (38-5) jr., 145. Grant Ott (32-11) sr., 154. Stoney Buell (38-8) soph., 171 Jaxon Guinn (16-6) jr.
Outlook: Dundee is wrestling for its fifth Division 3 championship over the last seven seasons, with a roster that impressively has just three seniors and five juniors – and five upperclassmen expected to start. But Buell is a reigning individual champion and Killion and Tyler Swiderski were Finals runners-up a year ago, while Fietz, White, Guinn and senior Cal McAvoy also were placers.
Record/rank: 28-2, No. 3
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference
Co-coaches: Justin and Collin Zeerip, first seasons (28-2)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1984.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Aidan Weiler (33-9) fr., 125 Max Brown (38-4) fr., 135 Jacob Haynes (14-12) soph., 140 Marco Moore (21-18) soph., 145 Kyler Honore (30-12) jr., 152 Ira Jenkins (34-6) fr., 160 Trenton Blanchard (34-6) sr., 189 Kayleb Venema (40-2) jr., 215 Allen Powers (37-4) sr., 215 Jarrean Sargeant (34-10) jr.
Outlook: Under the Hesperia champion Zeerip brothers, Whitehall is making its fourth straight Quarterfinal appearance and move up a seed this season after reaching the Semifinals a year ago. With just two seniors on the roster, and five freshman starters, this is another team with an exciting future to go with the present. Blanchard, Venema and Powers were Finals placers a year ago.
#4 Remus Chippewa Hills
Record/rank: 27-1, No. 4
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association Gold
Coach: Kevin Edwards, first season (27-1)
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2016.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Taylor Gibson (35-11) jr., 112 Daylin Wittig (30-6) soph., 119 Gavin Miller (22-15) soph., 125 Carson Hayes (35-9) soph., 135 Bray Haynes (36-9) sr., 140 Mason Hayes (40-0) sr., 160 Trenten Wiggins (31-7) soph., 171 Gabriel Petoskey (36-11) jr., 189 Chayton Wiggins (45-1) jr., 215 Carl Whipple (27-7) soph., 285 Colby Roosa (35-1) soph.
Outlook: Chippewa Hills will wrestle in its eighth straight Quarterfinal hoping to advance to a fifth straight Semifinal. Edwards took over this season for longtime coach Nate Ethridge after serving as an assistant during Ethridge’s 18 running the program. Haynes was a Finals placer last season and is one of four repeat qualifiers. There are only three senior starters, but 12 of 14 in the expected lineup have won at least 25 matches this winter.
Record/rank: 27-5, No. 6
League finish: Second in Mid-Michigan Activities Conference
Coach: Steve Barnette, seventh season (140-76)
Championship history: Nine MHSAA championships (most recent 2005), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Jake Elasivich (42-7) soph., 145 Robert Skinner (26-11) soph., 171 Jack Kalakay (34-7) jr., 285 Griffin Barnette (45-4) jr.
Outlook: Montrose is returning to the Quarterfinals for the first time since the last championship season of 2005, and defeated No. 7 Birch Run to help get here. The Rams finished second in their league to another contender, Division 4 power New Lothrop. Watch for them moving forward – they have one senior starter but 10 underclassmen in this weekend’s lineup. Elasivich and Griffin Barnette were Finals placers last season.
Record/rank: 33-6, No. 8
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference Central
Coach: Randy Miniard, eighth season (188-92)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Dametrius Castillo (32-4) soph., 125 Solomon Rosales (25-11) soph., 130 Josiah Baltierra (27-18) fr., 135 Jarrett Ferman (32-3) jr., 152 Justin VanBlaricum (28-9) jr.
Outlook: The Panthers are making their second straight Quarterfinal trip coming off a third consecutive league title, and also moved up a seed from a year ago. Alma got past No. 10 Lake Odessa Lakewood to clinch what was also its second Regional title ever. Castillo also achieved some individual history for the program with its first Finals championship last season since 1993. There is only one senior on the roster and 10 underclassmen in the lineup for this weekend.
Record/rank: 24-9, unranked
League finish: Third in Wolverine Conference
Coach: Colin Burandt, fourth season (76-35)
Championship history: Two runner-up finishes (most recent 1998).
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Dylan Elmore (45-5) sr.; 285 Wyatt Bailey (33-11) soph.
Outlook: Dowagiac returned to the Quarterfinals last season for the first time since 2004 and now has made two straight. The experience should continue to pay off as the team will graduate only three seniors with only two expected to start this weekend. Six wrestlers have at least 30 wins this winter.
Record/rank: 12-1, No. 9
League finish: Second in Tri-Valley Conference Central
Coach: BJ Cline, fourth season (57-19)
Championship history: Four runner-up finishes (most recent 2001).
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Kye Andrews (37-8) jr., 119 Lance Clark (26-6) soph., 145 Trevor Robinson (40-2) sr., 285 Kevin Smith (36-8) sr.
Outlook: Shepherd is returning to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2002, with three senior starters who all have at least 30 wins and also nine underclassmen among expected starters. Robinson was the Finals runner-up at 135 last season, and he also was a runner-up in 2016.
PHOTO: Remus Chippewa Hills, here at its league tournament, is one of the few to break into a Division 3 Final over the last decade. (Click for more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)