By: Scott Keyes
Division 1 Individual Wrestling Preview
The MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills is usually a three-day roller coaster ride of emotions for wrestlers, coaches, parents, and fans alike.
The wrestling on the 12 mats positioned on the floor of the arena speaks for itself. 896 of the best wrestlers in the state will give everything they have to win four matches and be crowned a champion.
Throw in a little extra drama, like who is battling their weight and will dread that Friday weigh-in? Will coaches behave, or will we hear their name over that dreaded loudspeaker in The Palace? Upsets, injuries, overtime, where does it end?
This year's tournament, which takes place February 28 through March 2, should be no different.
Below is a division by division, weight by weight breakdown, with some predictions thrown in. Since I haven't had the pleasure of seeing every stud who will be competing, I used MichiganGrappler.com to help me. And yes, I know each weight class has 16 wrestlers who can win it, but this is who I think will come out on top:
1. Benny Gomez, Holt
2. Noah Gonser, Grand Blanc
3. Mohamad Youssef, Plymouth
Prediction: I like all three of these little studs, but I'm taking Gomez to win it all. He pinned his way to a regional championship February 16 in Grand Haven.
1. Lincoln Olson, Davison
2. Camden Bertucci, Grand Haven
Prediction: These two wrestled for the 103-pound title last year, with Olson winning 16-5. It's hard to pick against Olson.
1. Shayne Wireman, Holt
2. Mitch Rogaliner, Bedford
Prediction: Wireman beat Rogaliner for the 103-pound title two years ago, Rogaliner beat Wireman in the semis last year on his way to a title. This year Wireman pinned Rogaliner at the Holt Invitational. I don't care when they meet, this is must-see wrestling, and I pick Wireman.
1. Josh Wood, Rochester
2. Martin Rodriguez, Holt
3. Ben Calandrino, Howell
Prediction: Wood got a late start to his season but looks good, another Rodriguez at Holt, and a mad Calandrino because he lost in the first round of regionals and placed third. I like Wood.
1. Austin Eicher, Hartland
2. Jacob Gorial, Hartland
Prediction: It's rare when two of the best wrestlers in one weight class come from the same school, but that appears to be the case at 130. So far Hartland coach Todd Cheney has been deferring Gorial to Eicher at districts and regionals, but I feel they will soon have to wrestle, and that time could come in the finals. No matter what, Eicher is a beast, and I don't see him losing to anybody.
1. Ken Bade, Detroit Catholic Central
2. Justin Oliver, Davison
Prediction: Wow, two former state champions who like the bright lights. If it happens, this one will be worth the price of admission. I like Oliver, even though he had a late return to the mat.
1. Malik Amine, Detroit Catholic Central
2. Kaelen Richards, Rochester
Prediction: Too close to call here, I like both Amine and Richards, but I will go with the Richards in an upset. Too bad Mike Willits of Oxford lost by disqualification at regionals, or I'm sure he would have had a say in this, too.
1. Travis Mann, Westland John Glenn
2. Andrew Napieraj, Brother Rice
3. Jordan Amine, Brighton
Prediction: Mann looked good in regionals, so I'll take the John Glenn senior here.
1. Dominic Latora, Portage Northern
2. Aaron Calderon, Brighton
3. Nick Vandermeer, Clarkston
Prediction: Even though I love the Latora wrestling blood line, and I think Vandermeer will bounce back from taking third at regionals, Calderon is my favorite.
1. Logan Marcicki, Detroit Catholic Cenrtal
2. Jordan Cooks, Davison
3. Dakota Juarez, Grand Haven
Prediction: I love this weight class. Cooks won this weight class last year, but Marcicki is tough. And don't count out Juarez - you might remember him, he's the wrestler than many at The Palace thought beat Alec Mooradian in the quarterfinals last year. This weight class is shaping up like a war, and I'll bet on last year's champion – Cooks.
Prediction: 1. Andrew Garcia, Detroit Catholic Cenrtal
2. Mitchel Thomas, Hartland
3. Connor Moynihan, Grand Haven
Garcia is the favorite, but Thomas has been wrestling very well of late. I still like the Shamrock Garcia.
1. Shwan Shadaia, Rochester
2. Rodney Harvey, Battle Creek Lakeview
Prediction: Shadaia is too tough to bet against here. Harvey is a battler, but I stick with the Rochester wrestler.
1. Brandon Sunday, Bedford
Prediction: I think this is Sunday's weight class to lose. He took second at 189 pounds last year, and is stronger and bigger this year.
1. Bob Coe, Detroit Catholic Central
2. Miguel Correa, West Ottawa
3. Zach Sieler, Pickney
Prediction: The big boys kick everything off each round during the weekend of the finals, and this weight class is deep. Coe is tough and battled-tested, but Correa may have won the toughest regional at Grand Haven, and that's why I like him.