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Wrestling quarterfinals: Dakota reaches first semifinal, Hartland has opportunity to repeat

By: Dan Stickradt, February 24, 2017, 9:00 pm

Mount Pleasant – After losing in the state semifinals to Davison a year ago, Detroit Catholic Central has not lost to a Michigan school at full strength ever since.

The Shamrocks, the top-ranked school all season and the top seed for the Division 1 tournament, made quite a statement on Friday in the quarterfinals.

Catholic Central won 13 weight classes and rolled past eighth-seeded Brighton, the 2015 state champion, by a convincing 55-3 margin at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena.

“To be honest, this team is on a mission this year,” coach Mitch Hancock said. “We are not satisfied with just being here. We felt we were the best team coming in last season, but didn’t get the job done. This year we have a lot to prove.”

Catholic Central has won 11 state titles in Class A or Division 1, five in the team format and six in the old individual format. The Shamrocks most recently won titles in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and finished as the site runner-up in 2011 to Oxford under Hancock.

The top seven teams in the final D-1 rankings reached the quarterfinal round.


Dakota rolls into first semifinals


Macomb Dakota is Michigan’s largest school enrollment-wise. The Cougars are also one of state’s top wrestling teams.

Dakota, ranked No. 3, advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in school history on Friday, topping sixth-seeded Westland John Glenn, 29-22, in Division 1

Dakota won eight of 14 weight classes.

“We’ve been to the quarterfinals a couple of other times before but couldn’t get past that round. That left a bitter taste in our mouths to be honest,” said Dakota coach Ed Skowneski. “It is not just our goal to get here anymore, we want to compete on Saturday.

“We’ve have strung together a few good seasons and now it has finally happened for us,” added Skowneski, whose team will face No. 2 ranked Davison in Saturday’s semifinals. “We’re in the Final Four with Davison, Catholic Central and Hartland. That’s where we want to be — to be competing in the final day with the best teams. We’ve come a long ways.”

Dakota lost in the quarterfinals in 2013, 2014 and 2016, including 36-16 to Catholic Central last season.


Hartland slams Oxford, Cheney snares 700th career win

Hartland, like quarterfinals opponent Oxford, was hit hard by injuries this season. The fifth-ranked Eagles return to the semifinals after a 43-27 triumph over No. 4 Oxford.

This is the 16th consecutive season that Hartland has reached at least the state quarterfinals and 13th time in that span the Eagles have advanced to at least the semifinals.

Hartland is the defending state champion and also owns five state runner-up trophies dating back to 2004.

“We’ve had a ton of injuries this season. We lost four guys for the season due to injuries,” veteran coach Todd Cheney said. “We’ve also had guys in and out of the lineup with injuries. So with that in mind, for us to be here with what we have, this is a great accomplishment. I think we’ve over-achieved a little bit with all of the injuries. 

“The ultimate goal is always to win the site championship. But based on what we’ve been through this season, we’re excited to make it to Saturday.”

Hartland will face top-ranked Catholic Central in the semifinals. The victory over Oxford was Cheney’s 700th dual meet win dating back to 1992. 

Oxford coach Paul McDevitt, who has served as head coach for 22 seasons and top assistant two seasons, is stepping down. His Wildcats finished 24-6 this season and have reached at least the state quarterfinals in nine of the last 10 seasons. 


Davison is back in the semifinals

With eight state titles in hand, the last coming in 2006, Davison is seeking to get back on top. 

The Cardinals (25-3) took another step with an impressive 40-24 triumph over No. 7. Grandville.

Davison finished with the state runner-up trophy last season after falling to Hartland in the finals. The Cardinals also own four state runner-up finishes. 


Division 4 quarterfinals

Top-ranked Hudson pulled a rare shutout on Friday rolling over Munising 79-0.

Hudson has competed in eight consecutive state finals, winning five straight (2009-13). The Tigers finished as the runner-up each of the last three seasons, losing each time to New Lothrup. 


Usual suspects

New Lothrop can be considered a usual suspect when it comes to wrestling. The small-school state powerhouse has as good of a track record as any school over the past quarter century-plus when it comes to state tournament success. 

The sixth-seeded Hornets (15-8) edged third-seeded Carson City Crystal, 32-31, to advance. This marks the 18th straight season that New Lothrop has reached at least the state quarterfinals.

New Lothrop will face No. 2-seeded Leroy-Pine River in Saturday’s semifinals.

Dating back to the school’s first state championship in wrestling in 1967, the Hornets have captured 15 state championships between Class C, Class C-D and Division 4. New Lothrop has also finished as the state runner-up four times overall (1976, 1983, 1996 and 2007).

That’s 19 times finishing either first or second in the state. The Hornets have reigned supreme in 1967, 1978, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1994, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2015 and 2016 — the last eight titles in the team dual format, while the first seven title teams coming in the individual format.

Division 3

Richmond received a free pass as its original opponent, Mt. Morris, had to forfeit its regional trophy and had to withdraw from the quarterfinals.

The ruling was that Mt. Morris had one of the team’s wrestlers compete two weight classes above his designated levels. The infraction was discovered one day after the team regionals on Feb. 15.