Detroit – Mitch Hancock and his coaching staff at Detroit Catholic Central will be busy this weekend at Ford Field when the state individual wrestling finals take place.
Three-time Division 1 state team champion Catholic Central will have 14 wrestlers competing, including Kevon Davenport, who is attempting to become the first four-time African-American state champion.
Davenport won the 119-pound state title his freshman year, at 130 pounds as a sophomore and at 145 his junior year.
Davenport will be back at 145 this time around and could have a potential state title bout with his teammate, junior Logan Sanom, who is 35-3 and ranked No. 2 in the state, with two of his losses coming to Davenport.
“It’s something that I’ve worked a lot for as far as coming up through middle school,” said Davenport, who has a career record of 177-10, including 34-1 this season. “It’s always everyone’s goal coming in, you want to be a four-time state champ, you want to try to chase that goal. For that to be so close to me, such an attainable goal, it’s unfathomable, especially at CC.”
There have been 24 four-time state champions in MHSAA history, but none from Catholic Central.
Davenport will wrestle at Nebraska next year and plans to major in sports media and communications.
“I remember Kevon coming into high school and his goal was to win the Oakland County championship, so for him to come along that far, going after a fourth state championship is remarkable,” said Hancock. “He trains really hard, has some great workout partners and he does a lot of things on his own in the offseason. He's not afraid to train hard.
“He’s a very confident guy. In my 12 years here, he’s probably one of the smartest and confident wrestlers we’ve ever had. There’s not a situation that he hasn’t been in before and he’s just so analytical about the sport that it’s incredible. He is just a very likable kid. His classmates respect him and his teachers love him and I think that’s because he was raised the right way.”
Catholic Central also has Josh Edmond, Derek Gilcher and Easton Turner trying to repeat as state champs. Edmond, who won the title at 130, will be competing at 135. Gilcher won the championship at 135 and will be at 140 this year. Turner won the title at 215 and will be competing at 189.
Senior Cameron Amine will try to be a three-time state champion; he lost in last year’s state title match at 152 pounds to Alex Facundo, 4-2. Amine, who has a career record of 174-16, won the state title at 125 his freshman year and at 145 as a sophomore. He will enter competition at 152 with a 36-0 record.
Hancock, who guided Catholic Central to its seventh state team championship this decade – a record for Class A/Division 1 teams – this past weekend in Kalamazoo, said Catholic Central has had five individual state champions in each of the previous three years. He believes his team can match or surpass that total this year.
“They were pretty sharp last weekend so we’re pretty excited and have high expectations going into this weekend,” Hancock said. “Our guys are ready to go. We’ve had a good week of practice. We have our six returning finalists. We just have to go in and perform. If our guys just go and wrestle hard and score points I think we’ll be in a good situation.”
Amine joined Steven Kolcheff (285) as state finalist last year. Kolcheff (35-3) will be competing at 285.
While Hancock has had two Catholic Central wrestlers compete in the same weight class at the state tournament before, he has never had that happen in three weight classes like this time around.
“There’s a good shot for those guys to see each other in all three of those finals, that’s how good those guys are,” said Hancock of Gilcher and Marc Shaeffer competing at 140, Davenport and Sanom at 145, and Amine and Joe Urso at 152.
“Shaeffer took fourth in the state last year and Gilcher beat him in the quarters so those guys could meet in the final.
“Then at 145, Logan’s ranked No. 2 in the state, his three losses on the year are all to Catholic Central wrestlers, to Davenport twice and Gilcher in the CC Invite finals, so they have a really good shot at meeting in the finals.
“And then at 152, Urso has the ability to make a long run.
“Obviously, a lot would have to go right for all three of those weight classes to see each other in the finals, but there’s a good chance that one or two of them will meet up. It’s going to be nerve-wracking, chaotic, fun.”
Anthony Walker (103), Caleb White (112), Camden Trupp (130), Manny Rojas (160) and Brendin Yatooma (215) will also be competing at Ford Field.
Yatooma, a junior, thinks he has a good chance at taking home a state title.
“I didn’t do as well as I hoped, placed eighth last year, which isn’t too bad, but this year I’m looking to win it, especially since I’m ranked No. 1,” said Yatooma, who is 40-3.
Wrestling individual state finals
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
Tickets: $16 per session, $45 all-session ticket
10 a.m. – Doors open
11 a.m. – Grand march
11:30 a.m. – Round 1 begins
2:45 p.m. – Round 2 consolation
4:15 p.m. – State quarterfinals
7:30 p.m. – State semifinals
8 a.m. – Doors open
9 a.m. – Third consolations
10 a.m. – Fourth consolations
11 a.m. – Eighth-place matches
3 p.m. – Championship matches