WRESTLING: Rochester advances to first Final Four; CC, Hartland, Davison also advance
Falcons to face No. 1 Catholic Central in semifinals; No. 2 Davison, No. 3 Hartland also advance
BY DAN STICKRADT
BATTLE CREEK — Josh wood has been through many trials during the past 12 months.
A year ago, he suffered a season-ending injury two days before the Individual Wrestling Regionals and had to miss the final two weeks of the season. Now as a senior, Wood again missed two thirds of the season with an injury and has even had to fight through who a virus during the past month after his return.
Wood’s return to the Falcons’ lineup is one of the many reasons why Rochester is still alive in the Division 1 postseason and has aided Rochester’s run to its first Final Four.
The seventh-ranked, who Falcons gained the No. 5 seed for the state tournament in Battle Creek, upended state powerhouse Temperance Bedford, the No. 4 seed, by a 37-24 count Friday afternoon at Kellogg Arena to advance to Saturday’s state semifinals against defending state champion and top-seeded Novi Detroit Catholic Central.
The top-ranked Shamrocks pounded Grandville 62-7 in another state quarterfinals match, while Hartland doused Macomb Dakota (42-14) and Davison throttled Holt (50-12) on the other mats. Hartland and Davison will face off in the other state semifinals match at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
“It feels great to be out there again, with everything that’s happened,” admitted Wood, who is 11-0 this season. “We dreamed about coming here as freshman. Myself, Kaelen Richards and some of the other seniors have helped build this program up to be able to get here and now we’re going to face Catholic Central (in the semifinals). This was our goal all season.”
Rochester (24-11) was decimated with injuries during the regular season and has lost to 11 ranked teams this season. The Falcons finally got their full starting lineup back just before the state tournament — and it is paying off.
Since the inception of the team dual state tournament in 1988, Rochester had never advanced past the regional finals and made its first trip west to Battle Creek this weekend. The Falcons have now made a date for the tournament’s final day.
“We are glad to be here, but I don’t think the guys will be fully happy just to wrestle in the Final Four,” admitted Rochester coach Frank Lafferty. “We’re going to enjoy this tonight and come back and wrestle Catholic Central. We hope to give them a battle, a run for their money.”
Perennial powerhouse Temperance Bedford (26-3) was making its normal appearance in the quarterfinals and had already defeated Rochester by a point earlier this season. That’s when Rochester did not have Wood and some other key wrestlers in its lineup.
Rochester, at full strength, booted the Kicking Mules from the postseason by winning 10 of 14 matches and rallying back from an early 15-6 deficit. In fact, Rochester won six straight matches at one point and captured eight of the last 10 matches to pull way.
Down 15-6, Wood fought through a 12-11 decision over Mitch Pawlak at 125 to bring the Falcons to within 15-9. Rochester’s Joseph Gunther blanked Jake Helminski 4-0 at 135 to pull the Falcons to within 15-12.
Bedford’s Blake Montrie (135) recorded a decision pushed the Mules’ lead back up to 18-12 with seven matches to go only to see Rochester take control after that point.
The Falcons won the next six matches, with Shane Shadaia’s 8-7 win over David Lijewski at 171 clinching Rochester’s victory.
Kaelen Richards (140, major decision), Dillon Maier (145, pin), Aaron Morgan (152, major decision), Dean Vettese (160, technical fall) and Shwan Shadaia (189, decision) also won matches for Rochester.
Bedford’s other win came in the final match, as Brandon Sunday (215) recorded a pin to end the meet.
Lafferty lamented that Rochester won a few swing matches and that the Falcons earned a pivotal win from Maier at 145 pounds.
“Dillon is a kid that came in with a .500 record and he stepped up and pinned his opponent,” noted Lafferty. “That’s the type of effort we needed to win. The guys didn’t want to settle for just being in Battle Creek and wrestling in the quarterfinals.
Novi Detroit Catholic Central advanced to its fourth straight Final Four with a convincing 62-7 victory over Grandville, the eighth seed for the tournament, in a Division 1 state quarterfinal at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena.
The Shmrocks will face Rochester, the fifth seed in Saturday’s state semifinals. Catholic Central defeated the Falcons back in December when Rochester had several wrestlers out of the lineup.
“They are an awfully good team and much better than when we faced them earlier in the season,” said CC coach Mitch Hancock. “I thik Coach Lafferty been around the block and has done a tremendous job building up that program. We are not surprised that we’ll see them in the semis.
“It’s nice to have two Oakland County teams in the final Four. We want to show the rest of the state how good wrestling is in Oakland County,” continued Hancock. “The past two years, we wrestled Oxford, another Oakland County school, in the state finals.”
Against Grandville, the Shamrocks (23-2) left no doubt, winning 12 of 14 matches, six by pin.
After Grandville took a 4-3 lead after two matches, Catholic Central went on a tear by winning the next 11 matches.
“We have a lot of guys that can pin and we have some great competition on this team (for spots),” said Hancock. “Our White team goes out there in practice with our blue team and makes for some quick practices. We have the depth to move people around and we have a group of very talented kids who we know can usually (gain) us some points.”
HARTLAND MAKES IT 9-FOR-10…FINAL FOUR STYLE
Hartland has had tremendous success in the Division 1 state tournament. In fact, the Eagles, ranked third entering the postseason, are making their fifth straight appearance in the Final Four and ninth in the past 10 years.
“We’ve had a good run. We’ve been blessed with some great kids over the years,” said Todd Cheney, who has guided his team to a 33-1 ledger this season. “We missed (the semifinals) in 2008, but we have made it five in a row now. We’re excited to be here again.”
Much like the other quarterfinals, Hartland rolled over its opponent, Macomb Dakota, 42-14. The Eagles won eight of the first nine matches to put the match into cruise control.
“I thought we did a great job, wining a lot of matches early,” said Cheney. “I think we’re looking forward to the semifinals. Once they went to seeding a couple of years ago, the Final Four has become a grind. Every year, you are going to have four great teams and we’ll see that again Saturday.
MHSAA TEAM WRESTLING STATE QUARTERFINALS
(Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek)
NOVI DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL 62, GRANDVILLE 7
285: Bob Coe (NDCC) dec. Dakota Pike 1-0; 103: Josh Brower (G) maj. dec. Tommy Herrmann 12-2; 112: Parker O’Brien (NDCC) p. Jeremy Merryweather 0:54; 119: Trevor Zdebski (NDCC) p. Keedan Hoezee 3:20; 125: Evan Toth (DCC) p. Chris Koetje 4:45; 130: Myles Amine (NDCC) p. Dakota Torralva 1:03; 135: Ken Bade (NDCC) maj. dec. Collin Tomkins 11-3; 140: Malik Amine (NDCC) tech. fall Tyler Sisco 15-0, 3:59; 145: Chris Naubert (NDCC) maj. dec. Jake Brower 10-2; 152: Mike Babicz (NDCC) tech. fall Davon Rivera 16-0, 5:42; 160: Logan Marcicki (NDCC) p. Tavon Davis 2:41; 171: Drew Garcia (NDCC) tech. fall Quinn Connor 19-3, 4:00; 189: Nick Giese (NDCC) p. Eppe Saarenheimo 0:43; 215: Courtney Meyers (G) dec. JT Ayotte 6-5.
RECORDS: Detroit Catholic Central 23-2; Grandville 22-8.
ROCHESTER 37, TEMPERANCE BEDFORD 24
285: Adam Ortman (TB) dec. Cameron Daniels 6-1; 103: Tyler Rogaliner (TB) fall Andrew Sare 0:13; 112: Justin Kim (R) p. Cam Fornwald 1:58; 119: Mitch Rogaliner (TB) p. Seth Birchmeier 0:34; 125: Josh Wood (R) dec. Mitch Pawlak 12-11; 130: Joseph Gunther (R) dec. Jake Helminski 4-0; 135: Blake Montrie (TB) dec. Ryan Morgan 8-4; 140: Kaelan Richards (R) maj. dec. Jake Lohr 11-1; 145: Dillon Maier (R) p. Trent Turshon 1:46; 152: Aaron Morgan (R) maj. dec. Jordan Snyder 15-5; 160: Dean Vettese (R) tech. fall Ben Beallas 18-1 (5:43); 171: Shane Shadaia (R) dec. David Lijewski 8-7; 189: Shwan Shadaia (R) dec. Codie Bettencourt 5-2; 215: Brandon Sunday (TB) p. Luke Haynes 0:31.
RECORDS: Rochester 24-11; Temperance Bedford 26-3.
HARTLAND 42, MACOMB DAKOTA 14
285: Josh Charneski (HA) p. Raynard Hegarty 1:13; 103: Sal Caruso (MD) maj. dec. Eric Lundwall 8-0; 112: Sage Castillo (HA) p. Kelton Burch 0:57; 119: Nate Hughes (HA) p. Andrew Burnham (MD), 1:53; 125: Devon Chalut (HA) dec. Nathan Friese 8-2; 130: Justin Rollins (HA) p. Ryan Karam 1:18; 135: Jacob Gorial (HA) dec. Kyle Cendrowski 8-2; 140: Austin Eicher (HA) dec. Brian Cotter 8-4; 145: Anthony Colaianne (HA) dec. Alexander Bozinovski 6-2; 152: Kenny Seelye (MD) dec. Logan Vish 7-4; 160: Josh Burham (MD) maj. dec. Nate Smith 12-2; 171: Mitchel Thomas (HA) dec. Jake Johnson 9-3; 189: Antonio Balabani (MD) dec. Ryan Hill (HA), 3-1; 215: Chad Maks (HA) dec. Greg Brohl 9-5
RECORDS: Hartland 33-1; Macomb Dakota 37-5.
DAVISON 50, HOLT 12
285: Dakota Powers (D) dec. A.J. Turner 4-1 (OT); 103: Max Johnson (D) tech. fall Jaycob Bechtol 16-1 (3:44); 112: Benny Gomez (HO) dec. Jacob Madrigal (D), 6-4 (OT); 119: Shayne Wireman (HO) dec. Lincoln Olson 6-3; 125: Martin Rodriguez (HO) dec. Derek Humphrey 3-1; 130: Justin Oliver (D) p. Kyle Granger 1:23; 135: Dominic Russ (D) p. Mike Shaw 0:20; 140: Dominick Trevino (HO) p. Carter Stoddard 5-0; 145: Thomas Garty (D) p. Marco Reyes 5:06; 152: Patrick Rooker (D) p. A.J. Presley 9-3; 160: Jordan Cooks (D) p. Adam Turner 1:17; 171: Tyler Wildmo (D) p. Duane Hoard 1:17; 189: Jake Ellis (D) dec. Gage Sivyer 9-3
215: Trevor Thomas (D) p. Tim Fischer 1:13.
RECORDS: Davison (13-4); Holt 15-11.
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)