Now that Detroit Catholic Central has its Division 1 state team wrestling championship trophy tucked nicely away, Mitch Hancock’s gang of wrestlers can concentrate on stockpiling individual state championships this weekend at Ford Field.
Yes, there will be wrestling at Ford Field for the first time in state history. Competition will get underway Friday at high noon with quarterfinal matches slated for 4:30 and semifinals at 7:30. Wrestling will continue Saturday at 9 a.m. with championship bouts at 3 p.m.
Catholic Central will have a record 14 wrestlers competing, including two in the same weight class. Kevon Davenport and Joseph Urso will be competing at 145 pounds and Rory Cox and Brendin Yatooma at 189.
“I think we have a good system down, found a way to peak our guys at the right time,” said Catholic Central veteran coach Mitch Hancock, who won an individual state title himself in 200 at CC before moving on to Central Michigan. “You know, when you look at us with back-to-back five state champs that says it all.”
Benyamin Kamali (31-1, 119), Davenport (37-3, 145) and Cameron Amine (40-2, 152) have a lot to do with the consecutive seasons of five individual state championships for Catholic Central. They all enter this weekend as two-time state champions.
“That’s one of my dreams, I’ve been wanting to wrestle at Ford Field for a long time,” said Davenport.
Kamali, Davenport and Amine are all ranked No. 1 in their weight classes.
Catholic Central sophomore Josh Edmond enters the state finals unbeaten and as the top-ranked wrestler at 130. Junior Easton Turner (35-1) is also a threat to win at 215.
There have been just 22 four-time state champions and Brandon Whitman of Dundee and Jarrett Trombley of Lake Fenton will try to make it an even two dozen.
Whitman helped Dundee defeat Richmond in the Division 3 state team championship match Saturday at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo pushing his record to 43-0 this season and 205-3 for his career, winning state titles at 171 his freshman year and at 189 the last two seasons.
Whitman will face some outstanding competition along the way at 215 this season, including a potential title bout with Colton McKiernan (37-2) of Richmond. Whitman earned a 6-2 decision over McKiernan in the state team title match.
“I’m just going to go out there and wrestle and try to make it happen, that’s all I can do,” said Whitman, who will wrestle next year at North Carolina. “I just have to keep doing my stuff. I controlled pretty much that whole match (against McKiernan). I’m pretty good on my feet and I’ve gotten a lot better on bottom this year, but I’m pretty good at grinding on top.”
Trombley has already enjoyed a record-breaking season on his way to a 55-0 record at 130 pounds. He owns the single-season state record for takedowns with 565.
Trombley, headed for North Carolina State next year, has won state titles in Division 3 at 112, 119 and 130.
And, Trombley knows how tough it can be to become a four-time state champ since he prevented Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Devin Schroder from becoming one in 2016 when he ended his sophomore year with a 6-4 victory at 119.
Trombley owns a career record of 203-1 with his lone loss coming his freshman year.
Layne Malczewski desperately wanted to see what it felt like to be a state champion during his senior year at Macomb Dakota
“I put in a lot of work during the offseason,” said Malczewski, who is 50-0 at 171 pounds in Division 1. “I didn’t get a lot of work in the offseason last year because I was doing other sports. This year, I focused on a lot of wrestling instead of the other sports.
“Obviously, it worked out. I did a lot of offseason tournaments and did pretty well in them so it gave me a lot of good experience in big matches and big situations for this upcoming year.”
Last year, Malczewski was 55-6 and took fourth at state at 160. He will wrestle next year at Michigan State.
“It’s super exciting for anybody who can say they got a scholarship to go wrestle at DI, let alone Big Ten,” Malczewski said. “I’ve grown up watching the Big Ten and that’s been my dream, to go to a Big Ten school since I was a little boy so it’s a dream come true.”
INDIVIDUAL WRESTLING FINALS
At Ford Field, Detroit
Grand march — 11:45 a.m.
Wrestling — noon
Quarterfinals — 4:30 p.m.
Semifinals — 7:30 p.m.
Consolation round — 9 a.m.
Consolation semis — 10 a.m.
Consolation finals — 11 a.m.
Grand march — 2:20 p.m.
Championships — 3 p.m.