If it’s appropriate to refer to a high school wrestling team as a machine, then Novi Detroit Catholic Central is as supercharged and finely tuned as anything a Big Three automaker churns out in Michigan.
The Shamrocks are heavy favorites entering this weekend’s state wrestling duals, set for Friday and Saturday at Central Michigan.
Catholic Central (28-1) has been ranked No. 1 in Division 1 all season and coasted through its district and regional duals with three shutouts.
That’s not a machine. That’s a bulldozer.
“Our depth here is ridiculous,” Catholic Central coach Mitch Hancock said. “We have two teams here (Blue and White squads) that if given the opportunity, if the MHSAA allowed it, I think we’d have both teams in the top 8 at the state tournament.”
Five individual state champions return from last year to lead the Shamrocks: Benyamin Kamali (103-pound defending champion; wrestling at 112 this year); Kevon Davenport (119;130); Cameron Amine (125;145); Tyler Morland (171;171); and Nick Jenkins (285;285).
The Blue team includes this weekend’s starters, but the White team wrestled the Catholic League regular season and won the title.
Catholic Central is chasing a state title after being ousted in the semifinals by Davison last season. Hartland (32-3) then beat Davison (24-3) to claim the championship .
Davison (24-3), as the No. 2 seed, might have the best chance to defeat Catholic Central. The Shamrocks won the regular-season meeting, 32-22, but each team won seven matches.
“Macomb Dakota (No. 3 seed) has 11 state qualifiers so that would be a great dual; we aren’t looking past them or Grandville by any stretch,” Davison coach Roy Hall said of Friday’s quarterfinal and potential semifinal opponent. “Playing around with the lineup is key after knowing the starting weight. Against one team a lineup works and you take a shot, then against another team it might not be best.
“On paper CC is best with 14 state qualifiers, and they might have 20 in the room, but shoot, Dakota could beat them and we feel we can. Our kids aren’t afraid to face CC and I don’t think Dakota will look at it like that. (DCC coach) Mitch Hancock will have them ready, but sometimes it’s tough to win when you’re supposed (to).”
Catholic Central’s only loss this season was to Cleveland St. Edwards, which is ranked No. 3 in the country and recently won the Ohio state championship. Hancock said this has been the Shamrocks best season in the past 10 years, but it won’t be complete without the state title.
“We go through our postseason drills of mat management, time management,” Hancock said. “We talk a lot about certain situations and make sure we’re ready for each. Like in mat management stuff, to make sure we’re circling in and shooting out; 30-second tie breakers, making sure we understand one caution, two caution, how do you wrestle out of those situations.
“If you get a guy who is outmatched and wrestling a stud from the other team, how do we minimize bonus points? So for example we’re not going to open up our offense entirely, we’ve got to slow that guy down. How do we do that? Attack his working hand and keep better head position and wrestle hard on the edge, those types of things.”
Division 2: No. 1 seed Lowell (18-2) has won the past three state championships, and was runner-up to St. Johns (25-1) in 2012 and 2013. St. Johns is a No. 3 seed this week. Warren Woods Tower (26-0) is No. 2. Lowell’s two dual losses were to Catholic Central and Mason (Ohio), a nationally ranked team the Shamrocks beat by one point.
Div. 3: No. 1 seed Richmond (27-2) received a bye on Friday after Mt. Morris, which initially won its regional, forfeited the title for using an ineligible player.
Div. 4: Top-seeded Hudson (16-9) throttled second-ranked Manchester in the regionals, 59-8. No. 2 seed Leroy Pine River (30-4) or No. 3 Carson City-Crystal (29-8) will try for a different result this weekend.
MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals
At McGuirk Arena, Mt. Pleasant
Division I, 2:15
No. 1 Detroit Catholic Central (18-1) vs. No. 8 Brighton (16-8)
No. 4 Oxford (24-5) vs. Hartland (32-3)
No. 3 Macomb Dakota (32-3) vs. No. 6 Westland John Glenn (29-6)
No. 2 Davison (24-3) vs. No. 7 Grandville (14-5)
Division 2, 6:45
No. 1 Lowell (18-2) vs. No. 8 Tecumseh (24-6)
No. 4 Marysville (26-0) vs. No. 5 Allendale (34-3)
No. 3 St. Johns (25-1) vs. No. 6 Niles (15-1)
No. 2 Warren Woods-Tower (26-0) vs. No. 7 DeWitt (30-4)
Division 3, 4:30
No. 1 Richmond (bye)
No. 4 Lake Fenton (33-5) vs. No. 5 Whitehall (20-3)
No. 3 Remus Chippewa Hills (27-1) vs. No. 6 Lake Odessa Lakewood (29-6)
No. 2 Dundee (18-4) vs. No. 7 Caro (28-7)
Division 4, noon
No. 1 Hudson (16-9) vs. No. 8 Munising (22-3)
No. 4 Bronson (30-8) vs. No. 5 Springport (17-3)
No. 3 Carson City-Crystal (29-8) vs. No. 6 New Lothrop (14-8)
No. 2 Leroy Pine River (30-4) vs. No. 7 Clinton (28-7)
Division 1, 9 a.m./3:30 p.m.
Division 2, 11:30 a.m./6 p.m.
Division 3, 11:30 a.m./6 p.m.
Division 4, 9 a.m./3:30 p.m.