By: Jeff Chaney
A Wrestling Team of Proven Winners
There is no doubt that the quality of high school wrestling in Michigan has improved in the last decade. The pool of talent is deep now.
That's what made picking this team so difficult. There are wrestlers in each weight class, and in all divisions, who deserve to be on this list, but it's a Dream Team and there can be only one per weight class.
Luckily, I have an honorable mention list, which allows me to mention some who were close to making the team but fell short.
I know the team is heavy on Division 1 and 2 wrestlers, but I thought they were the toughest divisions this year, so winning a state title in those divisions earned a high grade when I sat down and sifted through the names.
When I finished, I had a list of 14 wrestlers with a combined record of 650-5. Nine were undefeated.
On the team, there were eight seniors, four juniors, one sophomore, and one freshman.
Here's my team, I'd go to battle with them:
103: LINCOLN OLSON, Davison (46-0, Division 1)
Olson is the lone freshman on the team, and he wrestles well beyond his years. He's slick on his feet and always is in good position. On his way to his state title in Division 1, Olson scored double digit points in each of his four matches, including a major decision victory over a tough Grand Haven freshman, Camden Bertucci, in the finals. This could be a four-time state champion, but there will be a lot of challengers in the future.
Honorable Mention: Grand Haven's Camden Bertucci, Detroit Catholic Central's Trevor Zdebski, Goodrich's Isaac Jewell, Ida's Dakota Ball, and Carson City-Crystal's Kenneth Dittenber
112: ZAC HALL, St. Johns (43-1, Division 2)
On his way to his second straight state championship, St. Johns sophomore Zac Hall had a scare in the semifinals, when he had to hold on to beat Tecumseh's Chase Lewis. After he beat Lapeer West's Dean Somers in the finals, he said it was the worst match he has wrestled in high school. Sometimes wrestlers that deal with the pressure of being a returning champ lose those matches. I like Hall's mentality; that's why I think he is destined to be a four-time champion. A little added pressure there, but I think he can take it.
Honorable Mention: Bedford's Mitch Rogaliner, Chippewa Hills' Zack Cooper, and Decatur's Luke Bell
119: TIM LAMBERT, Forest Hills Eastern (58-0, Division 2)
Before this year's finals, Lambert was widely known as the best wrestler in the state without a state championship. In fact, he may have been the best wrestler in the country without one. Lambert overcame that label and won the 119-pound Division 2 title this year, but it didn't come without some tense moments. St. Johns freshman Logan Massa gave Lambert all he wanted before the senior beat the freshman in overtime.
Honorable Mention: Davison's Justin Oliver, St. Johns' Logan Massa, Richmond's Stephen Ireland, and Hudson's Cole Weaver
125: ALEX CALANDRINO, Howell (42-1, Division 1)
Calandrino was a runner-up his junior season, but he came back and won the title his senior season with a workmanlike effort in all his four finals matches. This was a tough weight class to call, because all four champions in their respective divisions were worthy candidates, but I had to pick one.
Honorable Mention: St. Johns' Jacob Schmitt, Comstock Park's Nick Ross, and Watervliet's Brock Thumm
130: KEN BADE, Detroit Catholic Central (50-1, Division 1)
Bade had no problem winning his second state championship, winning two by pin, one by technical fall, and by decision over Oxford's Mike Willits in the finals. One of many strong Shamrocks, Bade helped DCC to its second Division 1 team title in the past three years.
Honorable Mention: Holly's Anthony Gonzalez, Allegan's Kyle Simaz, Otsego's Alberto Lopez, and New Lothrop's Jacob Perrin
135: BRANT SCHAFER, St. Johns (37-1, Division 2)
Schafer finished runner-up at 125 pounds in 2011 and moved up two weight classes in the off-season. His added size and strength were evident at the state tournament, where he muscled his way to his state championship. It's a good thing for the Redwings that he has another year.
Honorable Mention: Canton's Alec Pantaleo, Reeths-Puffer's Cody Stenberg, Richmond's Devin Skatzka, and Traverse City St. Francis' Isaiah Schaub
140: BEN WHITFORD, St. Johns (42-0, Division 2)
During the first two years of his high school career, Whitford won two Illinois state championships. The family moved back to Michigan, and he went through a rugged weight class to win a Michigan title. He comes from a good family tree, as father Pat Whitford won a state title for Holt High School.
Honorable mention: Portage Central's Angelo Latora, Lowell's Gabe Morse, Sparta's Nick Trimble, Richmond's Garrett Edwards, and New Lothrop's Clayton Simons
145: JAKE WEISSEND, Carman Ainsworth (58-0, Division 1)
Weissend used finishing as runner-up to Detroit Catholic Central's Alec Mooradian last year as his motivation this year, and he cruised through this season unbeaten. It was a tough state tournament with close wins throughout the bracket, but Weissend ended on top of the podium.
Honorable Mention: Allegan's Taylor Simaz, St. Johns' Josh Pennell, Bullock Creek's Scott Flowers, and Addison's Jared Bruner
152: ANDREW MORSE, Lowell (38-0, Division 2)
This future Northern Illinois wrestler capped off a perfect season with an impressive showing at the Division 2 state finals. Morse won his second state title by winning a pretty tough weight class with two pins and two decisions. His title gives the Morse household a total of seven state championships. His older brother Jackson won three and his twin brother Gabe won one.
Honorable Mention: Brighton's Aaron Calderon, St. Johns' Travis Curley, Lakeview's Jordan Betham, Hudson's Joel Varney
160: JORDAN WOHLFERT, St. Johns (46-1, Division 2)
This future Michigan State Spartan showed off his power and scoring ability at the state finals, cruising through his bracket with two major decision victories and two technical falls. Just another Redwing that knows what to do on the mat.
Honorable Mention: Davison's Jordan Cooks, Napoleon's Lelund Weatherspoon, Hudson's Devan Marry
171: TAYLOR MASSA (44-0, Division 2)
Four-time undefeated state champion, what else is needs to be said? Takes his talents to Ann Arbor now. It'll be interesting to see how he does at the next level. I'm sure he'll be fine.
Honorable Mention: Detroit Catholic Central's Drew Garcia, Comstock Park's Dillon Francisco, St. Ignace's Galloway Thurston
189: JORDAN THOMAS, Greenville (47-0, Division 2)
Thomas could have been a four-time state champion, but fell in the 145-pound finals his freshman season to Taylor Massa. Now those two combatants will be teammates at the University of Michigan, giving Wolverines coach Joe McFarland a solid recruiting class.
Honorable Mention: Detroit Catholic Central's Kevin Beazley, Lowell's Gabe Dean, Morley Stanwood's Steven Malloy, New Lothrop's Austin Severn
215: PRESCOTT LINE, Oxford (49-0, Division 1)
Line proved he is one of the best football players in the state last fall and followed that up by winning his second straight Division 1 215-pound championship in the winter. This kid is a heck of an athlete and deserves all his accolades.
Honorable Mention: Holly's Shawn Scott, St. Johns' Payne Hayden, Buchanan's Gage Hutchison, and St. Ignace's Joe Ostman
285: ADAM COON, Fowlerville (50-0, Division 2)
Coon is considered one of the best heavyweights in the country, and that's good enough to make my Dream Team. He did admit after his Division 2 championship that pushing around heavyweights is a lot tougher, but still he made easy work of earning his third state title.
Honorable Mention: Rochester Stoney Creek's Nick Gajdzik, Bedford's Logan Rimmer, Mason's Adam Robinson, Lakewood's Garrett Hyatt, and Hesperia's Brett Martin