D4 Preview: Contenders Pursue Hudson

February 19, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Hudson is seeking this weekend to become the first team in MHSAA history to win six straight wrestling team championships. And that’s the expectation, as the Tigers enter the MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals seeded first in Division 4 and ranked No. 1 in the state poll.

But the teams ranked 2-5 also are headed to Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena – and each would love to be the one to end this history-making streak.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 4, listed by seed. Their Quarterfinal matches begin at 1 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at 9:30 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: 33-4, No. 1
League finish: Second in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Scott Marry, 26th season (690-145) 
Championship history: Five MHSAA championships (most recent 2013).
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Zach Lopinski (29-16) fr., 112 Roddy Hamdan (39-11) jr., 112 Tyler Roberts (38-15) jr., 119 Isaac Dusseau (31-11) sr., 130 Mason Lopinski (34-13) soph., 135 Carlos Randall (13-11) sr., 140 Cole Weaver (50-0) sr., 145 JD Waters (43-9) sr., 152 Kyle Johnson (41-9) soph., 160 Clayton Brockway (29-22)  jr., 160 Brian Sumber (17-14) sr., 171 Tylor Grames (16-16) fr., 189 Mitch Ely (28-21) jr., 215 Jacob Morgan (31-16) sr. 
Outlook: Hudson last season became the second in MHSAA history to win five straight Finals team championships, tying the Davison teams from 2002-06 for the longest streak – and are heavily favored to extend it this weekend. Hamden, Weaver (two straight) and Waters are reigning individual champions and Dusseau was a runner-up last season, and all but one of the expected starters have qualified for next week’s Individual Finals. And yet, only six of the team’s 14 qualifiers are seniors.


Record/rank: 28-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference
Coach: Jeff Campbell, 13th season (336-64) 
Championship history: 12 MHSAA championships (most recent 2004), four runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Connor Krupp (35-12) fr., 119 Cole Hersch (44-7) soph., 125 Dalton Birchmeier (38-10) jr., 130 Gabe Bennett (47-3) jr., 135 Trevor Copes (40-12) jr., 140 Steven Garza II (22-0) soph., 145 Aaron Bauman (46-4) sr., 160 Josh Wendling (49-4) sr., 171 Taylor Krupp (50-0) sr., 189 Cody Symons (43-4) sr., 215 Dakota Clark (29-12) sr., 215 Owen Wilson (32-9) sr., 285 David Robertson (37-12) jr. 
New Lothrop has reached the Quarterfinals all 13 seasons under Campbell and missed its first championship berth since 2007 by only two points in the final match of last season's Semifinal. Wendling was an individual champion in 2013 and Taylor Krupp a runner-up, and all but two of the probable starters this weekend have qualified for the Individual Finals – with Wilson able to sub in at the heavier weights. New Lothrop’s lone loss this winter was to Division 2 top seed Lowell by five points.


Record/rank: 29-0, No. 5
League finish: First in Southwestern Athletic Conference
Coach: Troy Johnson, first season (29-0) 
Championship history: Four MHSAA championships (most recent 1990), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Jacob Chapman (25-8) fr., 112 Julian Torres (45-0) jr., 130 Kyle Barkovich (45-2) jr., 135 Cole Menck 45-3) jr., 140 Travis Smith (40-10) sr., 152 Chris O’Donnell (44-3) jr., 171 Brody Conner (47-0) jr. Outlook: Lawton is back at the Quarterfinals for the first time since 1997, and Johnson has led the Blue Devils through a tough run as former coach and program-builder Bryan Sosinski died earlier this year after a battle with brain cancer. Johnson was part of three MHSAA championship teams before graduating in 1987 and served as Sosinski’s assistant before taking over the program. Torres, Barkovich, Menck and Conner all were Individual Finals placers last season.


Record/rank: 25-2, No. 3
League finish: First in Central Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Kacy Datema, fourth season (82-30) 
Championship history: MHSAA runners-up in 2000 and 2001. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Taylor Barkley (34-10) soph., 112 Alex Baker (32-4) jr., 119 Dallas O’Green (40-3) soph., 145 Darren Decker (42-1) jr., 152 Dillen Decker (37-2) jr.,
Outlook: Carson City-Crystal returned to the Quarterfinals last season for the first time in a decade and is led by three returning Individual Finals placers in O’Green and both Deckers. Still, the Eagles are young and could be contending for at least the next few seasons; only two starters are seniors including Garner Cusack, another Finals placer in 2013.  


Record/rank: 26-3, No. 4
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association
Coach: John Dingledine, first season (26-3)
Championship history: MHSAA champion 2008, five runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Corey Agens (36-8) sr., 103 Davian Gowens (18-3) soph., 125 Zack Yates (41-0) sr., 125 Logan Eaves (34-13) soph., 135 Trenton Roesly (45-3) jr., 140 Chase Siersema (39-3) sr., 145 David Jacobs (33-11) sr., 160 Mark Workman (22-2) soph.
Outlook: Hesperia has finished MHSAA runner-up three times in five seasons, including last winter, and hopes to take the final step under Dingledine. He took over for longtime coach Doug Baird this fall and inherited a reigning individual champion in Yates and a last season runner-up in Siersema. Half of this weekend’s probable lineup competed in last season’s 32-24 championship match loss to Hudson.


Record/rank: 24-4, unranked
League finish: First in Big 8 Conference
Coach: Dave Pratt, ninth season (235-66) 
Championship history: Class D runner-up 1984.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Walter Betz (31-10) sr., 135 Nick Cooper (36-9) fr., 140 Brandon Tanner (39-12) sr., 145 Zeth Caudill (32-3) soph., 152 Andrew Grady (29-15) sr., 189 Jacob Cooper (40-2) jr., 215 Adam Lammers (35-11) jr.
Outlook: Although Springport is returning to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2008, it has had plenty of local success with eight league and nine District titles in nine seasons under Pratt. The Spartans defeated an impressive slate to return to Battle Creek, including No. 6 Schoolcraft, Constantine and last season Quarterfinalist Bronson. Cooper is the reigning individual champ at 160 pounds.


Record/rank: 19-0, unranked
League finish: First in Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference
Coach: Nick Burklund, fifth season (62-26) 
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Zac DeCremer (40-2) soph., 140 Cole Gonzalez (41-4) jr., 171 Taylor Bonetti (37-7) jr.
Outlook: The Knights continue to shine after making the Quarterfinals last season for the first time. They’ve gone a combined 45-2 over the last two seasons. Norway will hope to make a splash despite entering as the seventh seed, but could be back for more in 2015 with only four starters graduating.


Record/rank: 21-12, unranked
League finish: Does not compete in a league.
Coach: Jeff Rolland, first season (21-12)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: None. 
Outlook: Clinton sent 10 qualifiers to its individual Regional last weekend, but amazingly has advanced to the team Quarterfinal without a single Individual Finals qualifier. Junior Zech Johnston, 33-10 and wrestling at 119 pounds, leads the team in wins but was stuck in one of the toughest brackets in Division 4. It’s an impressive feat led by Rolland, a Clinton grad who previously coached Onsted to three straight District titles from 2009-11.

PHOTO: New Lothrop senior Aaron Bauman has his hand raised in victory after a match against Lowell this season. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)