Wrestling Preseason Top 15 teams: Two-time defending D2 champion sits on top; Hartland tops D1 schools
The high school wrestling season is about to begin, and many familiar faces grace State Champs Sports first Top 15 rankings of the year.
But it’s a long season, and a tough sport that can have several injuries, and weight issues, that can allow an up-and-coming program break into the state’s best.
That happened last year, as Brighton won the Division 1 title, breaking a three-year reign as champion by perennial power Detroit Catholic Central.
And what could be perfect in a year of change for the MHSAA Team Championships, as the finals move to Central Michigan University from long-time venue Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.
1. Lowell – The two-time defending Division 2 champion Red Arrows are loaded this year, as evident of their national ranking of 20th by InterMat. In addition, they get former state champion Max Dean back. Dean missed last year with an injured wrist suffered in football.
2. Dundee — The Vikings lost in a bid to win three straight Division 3 state titles when they lost an exciting match to Richmond in the finals. Look for Dundee, the 32nd ranked team in the country, to be back in the finals again this year.
3. Hartland — Coach Todd Cheney’s team is a fixture in the finals every year. The problem the program has is coming home with a state title. Last year Hartland was runner-up to Brighton, but with a strong incoming freshman class to mix with some talented upperclassmen, this could be the year the Eagles finally wins a championship.
4. Detroit Catholic Central — Before last year coach Mitch Hancock’s team won three straight D1 state titles, and four of the past five. The Shamrocks always have talent, and Hancock has a heck of a coaching staff to coach them up.
5. Davison — Coach Roy Hall always has the Cardinals ready to wrestle their best in the months of February and March – championship time. This team has enough talent to muscle its way into a Saturday night D1 Finals match.
6. St. Johns — Surprisingly, the Redwings were missing at last year’s state finals, knocked off by Eaton Rapids earlier in the tournament. Look for St. Johns, led by super senior Ian Parker, who is coming off a great offseason, to lead his team up I-127 to Mt. Pleasant.
7. Richmond — You have to love this program. The Blue Devils are always a force, never duck competition, and always shines on the biggest stages. The team lost talent last year, including four-time state champion Devin Skatzka, who is now wrestles at Indiana.
8. Brighton — The defending Division 1 champions lost a lot of tough wrestlers off last year’s squad, but coach Tony Greathouse still has some coming back in the likes of returning state champ Lucas Ready at 215 pounds.
9. New Lothrop — The two-time defending Division 4 champions once again have some star power in senior Steve Garza, but does coach Jeff Campbell have enough to make it three straight?
10. Eaton Rapids — The Greyhounds were another surprise last year, beating St. Johns early in the state tournament, and advancing all the way to the finals. There they met their match, falling hard to Lowell.
11. Hudson — Before New Lothrop won two straight in Division 4, coach Scott Marry’s team won five straight. Hudson did make it to the finals the past two years, but didn’t have enough to beat New Lothrop.
12. Grand Rapids Catholic Central — The Cougars are still top heavy with three-time champ Devin Schroder at 125 pounds, two-time champ Foster Karmon at 152 and runner-up Kole Krauss at 140. How far this team goes is how the rest of the lineup develops.
13. Grandville – The Bulldogs are another tradition-rich Division 1 program in this ranking. Coach Bubba Gritter, a former Central Michigan All America, has a good feeder program developing young talent for the former three-time state champion.
14. Allegan — Allegan was once in Division 2, and won a state title in 2007. After several years in Division 3, the Tigers find themselves back up in D2 again. The team will need some big performance to compete with the likes of Lowell, St. Johns and Eaton Rapids.
15. Lake Fenton – Lake Fenton may have the best big man in the state in 215-pounder Trent Hillger, a returning state champion. Led by him, this team could make some noise in Division 3.