State champions to collide on final day of state wrestling

State champions to collide on final day of state wrestling

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State champions to collide on final day of state wrestling

Livonia Franklin's Nathan Atienza, red, flips his opponent, River Shettler of Hartland during the MHSAA individual wrestling state championships on March 3, 2017, at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Livonia Franklin’s Nathan Atienza, red, flips his opponent, River Shettler of Hartland during the MHSAA individual wrestling state championships on March 3, 2017, at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

The final day of the individual wrestling state tournament will include some blockbuster title bouts.

Two matchups — at 152 pounds in Division 1 and at 119 pounds in Division 4 —will feature defending state champions going head-to-head.

Kameron Bush of Grandville will take on Livonia Franklin’s Nathan Atienza Saturday in the Div. 1 (152) final at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Bush is the reigning champ in the class, and Atienza won the 145 title last season. In Div. 4 119, Jordan Hamdan of Hudson will wrestle Spencer Good of Jackson Lumen Christi, who won in Div. 3 in 2016.

“It’s entertaining and intriguing, and that can provide good motivation for me,” said Atienza, who beat River Shettler of Hartland by tech fall at 4:24 on Friday. “It’s great for the crowd to have such an anticipated matchup. It makes me excited that I have someone as tough as that to go against in the last high school match of my career. It lights a fire in me.

“I feel I’m smooth all around, I feel in good shape,” he said about the final. “My shots are connecting well, my movement has been good. I’m in sync with my body and what I want to do.”

Atienza said he and Bush (a 7-2 winner over Trevor Houghton of Romeo) only have had their hands on each other in a two-minute practice last year.

“He’s been performing really well this tournament,” Bush said of Atienza after admitting his own semifinal match was not his best effort. “It’s going to be a good one. I’m excited for it. Two defending state champs going at it, beating each other up.

“He has some things that he’s better at than I am, and visa versa. So it’s really who wants it more. I’m going to come out ready to perform; I hope he does too and we’ll give these people a show. End the season with the best match of the tournament if we both show up for it.”

A third title match featuring past state champions nearly occured in Division 3, but former title winner Hunter Gasper (Chesaning) fell 14-1 to Collin Lieber of Croswell-Lexington.

Detroit Catholic Central's Cameron Amine, blue, won his Division I, 145-pound semifinal match over Davison's Brian Case.

Detroit Catholic Central’s Cameron Amine, blue, won his Division I, 145-pound semifinal match over Davison’s Brian Case.

Lieber will take on defending 171 champion Daniel (Cash) Thompson of Lake Odessa-Lakewood on Saturday.

“I knew it would be Gasper or Lieber, who took second his freshman year, third his sophomore year and second last year, so he’s going to be just as tough to be honest,” said Thompson, who won his semifinal 5-0.

“I caught myself looking over once,” he added about the other match going on simultaneously on the neighboring mat. “Then I was like, ‘okay, I’ve got to focus on my match, don’t focus on that one. Got to stay with what’s going on right now.”

In Division 4, Hamdan advanced with a tech fall in 3:17 over Daryn Shepler of Carson City-Crystal, and Good won 9-2 over Dylan Amm of Lawton.

FREEMAN ADVANCES: Ben Freeman of Walled Lake Central (35-0) will go for his fourth state title after successfully advancing out of the Div. 1, 140-pound semifinal with a tech fall win in 5:02 over Brandon Riggins of Jackson.

Detroit Mumford senior Kemonte Simons was knocked out of state title contention by losing to former state champion Dominic LaJoie of Gaylord, 6-0.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Novi Detroit Catholic Central’s 171-pounder Tyler Moreland advanced with a tech fall and will try to defend his state championship. Reigning heavyweight champion and teammate Nick Jenkins also advanced.

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