Mat attack begins: Enquirer prep wrestling overview

Mat attack begins: Enquirer prep wrestling overview


Mat attack begins: Enquirer prep wrestling overview


The “Road to Battle Creek” officially got under way Wednesday night as the 2014-15 prep wrestling season kicked off with several squads in action at dual and quad meets.

Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena will again be the site of the Michigan High School Athletic Association Team Finals, which are set for Feb. 27-28. The Individual Finals are scheduled for March 5-7 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Prior to that, districts will take place the week of Feb. 11, and regionals the week of Feb. 18.

In the city this season, Battle Creek Central, Harper Creek, Lakeview and Pennfield are all solid this year, with the All-City Meet to take place Dec. 30 at Pennfield.

BCC has some solid returners as well as a lot of young and hungry wrestlers this year who are quickly developing. Harper Creek and Pennfield are now members of the first-year Interstate 8 Conference, with Harper Creek boasting several returners and some top newcomers, along with a returning state meet individual qualifier; and Pennfield, which has one senior returning, is hoping for good things from its large junior class. Lakeview — the defending All-City champ which also won the SMAC East last season and was conference runner-up — is loaded again with lots of talented returners as well as quite a few top-notch underclassmen, and brings back two individual state qualifiers.

Around the area, Bellevue and Galesburg-Augusta have programs again; Athens is now going it alone after being a co-op with Climax-Scotts (C-S is now a co-op with Martin); Maple Valley and Olivet are out of the KVA and in the Greater Lansing Athletic Conference; and those with probably the highest hopes of exceptional campaigns are Bronson, Homer and Coldwater (with Coldwater and Marshall also now part of the I-8).

Following is a school-by-school look at the local 2014-15 wrestling squads, starting with the city teams.

Battle Creek Central

Coach: Louis Politte (9th year).

Last Year: 13-12 overall, fifth SMAC, team district champ.

Top Returners: 130-Donovan Marshall (Sr.), 135-Jameson Browne (Sr.), 171-Jacob Taylor (Sr.); all three are captains.

Top Newcomers: Coach says several new at all grades, all working hard, too early to tell who will rise to the top.

Outlook: “We have a good group of seniors who will lead this team,” coach Politte said. “Our team’s success will depend on the development of our younger wrestlers and how our weights pan out. Right now we are bunched up in a few weights and thin in a few others.”

Harper Creek

Coach: Dave Studer (47th year); assistants Joe Yurisich and Steve Yurisich.

Last Year: 5-14 dual meets, 12th in SMAC. Three district placers in Jake Bishop, Mitch Coon and Ethan Bishop. Coon was state qualifier as a freshman and regional qualifier last year; also, Dakota Trimm was a state qualifier last year from Athens.

Top Returners: 145/152-Jake Bishop (Sr.), 140/145-Joey Ramos (Sr.), 119-125-Mitch Coon (Jr.), Hunter Peri (Jr.), 189-Caleb Masten (Jr.), 171/189-Mason Phillips (So.), 125/130-Brenner Beck (So.), 215/HWT-Drew Michaels (So.), 130/135-Johnny Ramos (So.), 130/135-Skylar Ashley (So.).

Top Newcomers: 103-Terry Vette (Fr.), 215-Hunter Kolassa (Fr.), 112-Dakota Trimm (So.), 135/140-Nate Sisler (Jr.).

Outlook: “We’re looking forward to being in a new league this year (Interstate 8) were we are going against schools of the same size,” the coaches said. “We have 10 freshmen along with 10 sophomores — this has double the numbers in our from from last year, which has improved the competition in the room and which will help our kids make bigger strides throughout the year.”


Coach: Chris Dunham (8th year).

Last Year: 22-9 overall, 7-0 SMAC East (champ), Big SMAC runner-up, All-City champ.

Top Returners: 103/112-Brendan Stevens (Jr., regional and state qualifier), 160/171-Jon Cox (Jr., returning state qualifier), 119-Lal Sang (Sr.), 140/145-Htay Thet (Sr.), 140/145-Brennen Gooding (Sr.), 189/215-James Ruanta (Sr.), 215/285-Cole Winters (Sr.).

Top Newcomers: 103-Chase Seeley (Fr.), 103/112-Daniel New (So.), 125/130-Anthony Barron (Jr.), 135-Brandon Rose (Sr.), 130/135-Mason Evans (Fr.), 152-Stephon Moody (So.), 160-Justyn Jones (Jr.), 171/189-Brady Broderick (Jr.), 189-Zachary Norstrom (Jr.).

Outlook: “As a team, our expectation is always to wrestle every match tough,” coach Dunham said. “We are looking to repeat much of our success from last year by winning All-City and the SMAC East Division. We look to compete for a district title. We would like to continue to be in the top teams at the league meet and, hopefully, in a position to compete at team regionals. Individually, we hope to get six or seven to regionals, with three or four making it to state.”


Coach: Larry Boyer (22nd year).

Last Year: 11-12 overall, 4th KVA, four individual regional qualifiers.

Top Returners: 189-Nick Schwarz (Sr., district champ), 215/285-Taylor Dean (Jr., district champ), 119-Dylan Huff (Jr., 3rd at districts), 112-Kurtis Babcock (Jr., 4th at districts), 135-Dillon Striplin (So.), 152-Dilan Hoffman (Jr.), 160/171-Storm Vanhyfte (Jr.), 215/285-Collin Prideaux (Jr.), 140-Isaac Vincent (So.).

Top Newcomers: 103-Nolen Bornamann (Fr.), 119/125-Jaycob Herpin (Fr.), 130-Joe Mexico (So.), 145-Michael Davis (Jr.), 152-Britain Burr (So.), 160-Esteban Gancer (So.), 160-Travis Kilbourn (So.), 189-Trenton Smith (Jr.).

Outlook: “We’re very excited to be in the new I-8 league, but with only one returning senior we will be young in some of our weight classes,” coach Boyer said. “We will be counting on our junior class, which is our biggest class in numbers, to step up and perform like seniors. We will expect freshmen and sophomores to fill in the open weight classes and learn quickly and do their best.”


Coach: Travis Pennock (3rd year).

Last Year: Co-op with Climax-Scotts.

Top Returners: 112-Steve Waring (Jr., 2nd at districts, 3rd at regionals, state qualifier), 119-Matt Taylor (Jr.), Ben Reed (Jr.), Dylan Head (Jr.).

Top Newcomers: Maia Minear (Jr.), Gabe Snyder (Jr.).

Outlook: “This is my first year with Athens alone, and we are a small group but have a lot of talent on the way,” coach Pennock said. “It’s going to be tough this season, but I have a lot of dedication on the team. This is my foundation team to build the future of Athens wrestling, and I wouldn’t change that for anything. My team is my team, and I’m looking for a lot of good things.”


Coach: Kevin Caro (1st year).

Last Year: Did not compete.

Top Upperclassmen: 152-Tucker Campbell (Sr.), 145-Jeremy Place (Sr.).

Top Underclassman: 189-Jackson Maduri (Fr.).

Outlook: “This will be the first wrestling team that Bellevue has had in a few years, and this year we hope to put Bellevue wrestling back on the map,” coach Caro said. “We have a lot of young talent that shows tons of potential and enthusiasm. We are young and inexperienced, but we are going to be as competitive as possible while trying to build numbers and experience within our program.”


Coach: Chad Butters (2nd year).

Last Year: 17-9 overall, 1st in league, team district champ, several individual district champs and high finishers, three individual state qualifiers.

Top Returners: 112-Jordan Withington (So.), 119-Jacob Butters (So., district champ), 125-Wes Disbro (Sr., 4th at districts), 135-Kahle Sheenks (Sr., district champ, 3rd regionals, 6th at state), 145-David Erwin (So., 2nd at districts, 2nd at regionals, state qualifier), 152-Mykal Kline (Jr., 160-Jukoada Sexton (Sr., 2nd at districts, 3rd regionals, 7th at state), 171-Brett Burtrum (Sr., district champ, 2nd regionals, 4th at state), 215-Nathan Caudill (So.), HWT-Joey Losinski (Jr.).

Top Newcomers: 125-Jac Murphy (Fr.), 160-Cole Houtz (Fr.), 171-Chase Gibson (Fr.).

Outlook: “With only losing one starter to graduation, we are looking forward to this upcoming season,” coach Butters said. “We are working hard in the practice room, and have high expectations for this year.”

Climax-Scotts/Martin Co-Op

Coach: Jason Wade (C-S/11th year), Pete Boyd (Martin).

Last Year: 17-4 overall, 4 district top-threes, 2 regional top-threes, 1 state placer.

Top Returners: 112-Dayton Vanderploeg (Jr./Martin, 3rd at districts, 3rd regionals, 4th at state), 135-Trey Gower (Jr.), 145-Sam Smith (Sr.), 130-Tristen Smith (So.), 152-Zack Mobley (Jr./C-S, 3rd at districts, 3rd regionals, state qualifier), 152-Todd Myers (Jr., 2nd at districts), 152-Noah Eshuis (So.), 189-Matthew Middleton (So.), 171-Zach Scholly (So.), 171-Eric Fee (Jr.), 215-Ethan Simmons (So., district champ), HWT-Adam Audette (Jr.).

Top Newcomers: 125-Dylan Butler (Fr.), 140-Payton Hunt (Fr.), 171-Bobby Elkins (Sr.), HWT-Dakota Elkins (So.).

Outlook: “We are every excited to be in year one of a wrestling co-op with Martin,” coach Wade said. “We are a very young team, but we hope to improve on the mat as we learn how to gel as a team. This group of young men work very hard on the mat as well as in the classroom. One of our goals is to repeat as Academic All-State as a team. The way these young men work, I think we can achieve that goal.'”


Coach: Jake Lenhardt (3rd year).

Last Year: 19-13 overall, 3rd SMAC East, 3 regional qualifiers.

Top Returners: 125-Josh Powers (Sr.), 140-Randall Linton (Sr.), 145-Nooh Aljabaly (Sr.), 152-Jesse Miller (Jr.), 160-Zach Chehowski (Sr.), 171-Sam DeMeester (So.).

Top Newcomers: 103-Shuaib Aljabaly (Fr.), 112-Hamza Mufihi (Fr.), 189-Connor Covert (So.), 215-Zach DeMeester (Sr.).

Outlook: “We have high expectations for our team this year,” coach Lenhardt said. “We have a solid group of wrestlers that put time in during the off-season and are eager to see the results. We expect to compete for the new I-8 conference title.”


Coach: Darrin VandenBerg (6th year).

Last Year: Wrestled independently, due to not having enough teams in the SCAA.

Top Returners: 189-Nick Martin (Sr.), 160-Ben Weaver (Sr.), 285-Derek Sechrest (So.), 215-Chase Thrams (So.), 135-Daniel Alva (So.).

Top Newcomer: 125-Hunter Boals (Fr.).

Outlook: “We are focused on individual development,” coach VandenBerg said. “With a small squad, we have the luxury of addressing personal wrestling needs at every practice. Due to our small team, we will lave a lot of weight classes open, but should be very competitive in the weight classes we fill. Plus, we have Daniel Alva back, who last year set a freshman single-season win record for Colon.”

Delton Kellogg

Coach: Dan Phillips (7th year).

Last Year: 14-7 overall, 3rd KVA.

Top Returners: 152/160-Jacob Reed, 152/160-Cameron Hudson (Sr.), 145-Brogan Smith (Jr.).

Top Newcomers: 215-Tyden Ferris (Fr.), 189-Mike Ford (Sr.).

Outlook: “We should be very competitive this year,” coach Phillips said. “This team has great potential, and we are working hard to make the potential reality. Everybody’s excited to get back on the mat and compete.”


Coach: Patrick Lawless (1st year).

Last Year: Did not compete.

Top Wrestlers: 140-Devan Underwood (Sr.), 160-Hunter Hulet (Fr.).

Outlook: “This will be a rebuilding year for our team,” coach Lawless said. “Although we are a small team, we have some very talented wrestlers and a crop of dedicated and hard-working underclassmen who I believe will help push G-A’s wrestling program back to its former glory in the next few years.”

Gull Lake

Coach: Tony DeRyder (2nd year).

Last Year: 20-12 overall, 5th of 8 SMAC (graduated 3 regional qualifiers and 1 state qualifier).

Top Returners: 125-Daniel Rodriguez (So., 4th at districts at 112), 112-Nolan Rowland (So.), 119-Christian Sanders (So.), 130-Chris Blackmun (So.), 215-Caleb Howe (Sr.).

Top Newcomers: 215-Andrew Hemienger (Jr.), 215-Shawn Osborn (Jr.).

Outlook: “We lost 11 of the 19 kids from last year’s team due to graduation and relocation,” coach DeRyder said. “We are a very young team. Our kids are catching on quick and working hard. This year is about learning and getting better.”


Coach: Mike Eldred (34th year).

Last Year: Fifth in Big Eight with 4-3 record.

Top Returners: 189-Dakota Waring (Sr., regional qualifier), 285-John Bangert (Sr.), 152-Austin Yeakey (Sr.), 135/140-Garrett Warner (Sr.), 160-Wyatt Stout (Sr.), 152/160-Shawn Hoaglin (Sr.), 125-Jacob Crandall (Jr.), 130-Bryton Warren (So.).

Top Newcomers: Several underclassmen.

Outlook: “With Springport being very good, realistically we’d like to finish second in our conference,” coach Eldred said. “We have a good attitude on the team, we’re putting in a lot of work, and hopefully we’ll get somewhere by the end of the season.”

Maple Valley

Coach: Chris Ricketts (42nd year).

Last Year: 13-12 overall, 4th KVA, 1 regional qualifier (graduated).

Top Returners: 125-Kodee Crouch (Sr.), 140-Matt Reid (Sr.), 189-Cole Decker (Sr.), 215-AJ Creller (Jr.).

Top Newcomers: 145-Franklin Urlich (Fr.), 119-Nathan Baird (So.).

Outlook: “We were having high hopes of a real successful year. However, we didn’t get the kids out in numbers that we hoped for,” said coach Ricketts, whose Lions are now in the new GLAC. “Still, we think by the end of the year we should be competitive at districts, and should have a couple of kids going on to state competition.”


Coach: Nick Zuehlke (2nd year).

Last Year: 10-24 overall, competed in SMAC, now in Interstate 8.

Top Returners: 119/125-Kiefer Bartlett (Sr.), 119/125-Chris Hall (Sr.), 152-Justin Saari (Sr.), 160-Jadon Austin (Sr.), 171-Corey Dexter (So.).

Top Newcomer: HWT-Owen Miller (Fr.).

Outlook: “We have a solid set of seniors who are great leaders,” coach Zuehlke said. “We need to find a way to fill the gaps and have young kids step up. I look forward to seeing their growth and hard work pay off throughout the season.”


Coach: Brandon Peters (1st year).

Last Year: 3-23 overall, last in KVA (now in GLAC), 1 individual state qualifier.

Top Returners: 112-Wyatt Autrey (Jr.), 152-Preston Schlee (Jr.).

Top Newcomers: 152-Mateo Palacios (Sr.), 145-Shane McKeown (Fr.).

Outlook: “We are in a rebuilding phase this year,” said coach Peters, who was previously an assistant at Olivet for three years. “We have a lot of raw talent that will develop as the year progresses. We plan to work hard and get better every day. We have a bunch of hard workers … and I’m very pleased so far.”


Coach: Jeff Wilkins (13th year).

Last Year: 15-15 overall, 4th Big Eight.

Top Returners: 130-Kaileb Miller (So.), 140-Ezra Brown (So.), 152-Jared Brown (Jr.), 189-Kollin Johnson (Jr.).

Top Newcomers: 125-Joel Roush (Fr.), 160-Tristan Weber (Fr.).

Outlook: “We don’t have any returning regional or state qualifiers this year,” coach Wilkins said. “We are a very inexperienced team, but with our incoming freshmen we should be more competitive at the end of the year when they get some time on the mat.”

Union City

Coach: Randy Widener (2nd year).

Last Year: 6-8 overall.

Top Returners: 135-Ben Dart (Jr.), 130-Tristen Banks (Jr.), HWT-Davis Fettes.

Top Newcomer: 145-Jacob Todd (So.).

Outlook: “This year looks to be very exciting,” coach Widener said. “We are an extremely young team made up of first- and second-year wrestlers. This year will be the first of what should be a promising future for Union City wrestling.”


DEC. 30: All-City Meet, 3 p.m. at Pennfield.

FEB. 11: Team districts.

FEB. 14: Individual districts.

FEB. 18: Team regionals.

FEB. 21: Individual regionals.

FEB. 27-28: Team Finals at Kellogg Arena, Battle Creek.

MARCH 5-7: Individual Finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills.


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