Detroit — Kevon Davenport closed out the deal, earning a 7-3 decision over Vic Schoenherr of Bay City Western to become the first four-time African-American champion in MHSAA history Saturday afternoon at Ford Field.
Davenport also became the first four-time state champion for Detroit Catholic Central, which earned its third straight Division 1 state team championship last weekend while becoming the first Class A/Division 1 team to win seven state titles in a decade.
Catholic Central also matched a state record Saturday by having seven state champions, topping the five it had won in each of the previous three seasons. St. Johns had won seven earlier this decade in Division 2.
Schoenherr made Davenport earn the right to carry the lofty titles when he pulled within 3-2 in the final period with an escape and then made a move to get the lead and win. But, Davenport wouldn’t let it happen.
“Things happen, slip-ups happen and he found himself in a fortunate position to catch me out of position and he threw that headlock and I was just lucky to roll through on it, but pulling away after I got those last couple of takedowns felt great,” said Davenport who will wrestle next year at Nebraska. “I felt once I had stopped that headlock, I felt him go into a frenzy, like let’s just try things, and I knew if I stay calm, stay in good position that whatever he tries home run-wise that I’d be ready for it physically.
“It (records) means a lot. It’s something that is pretty much every eighth grader’s goal coming into high school. Everyone thinks that I want to be an Olympic gold medalist, but there’s steps on the way. There’s winning state titles, there’s winning national titles so I feel like I’ve collected something on the way to my ultimate goal of being the best in the world.”
Of being the first African-American four-time state champ?
“In my opinion the sport of wrestling is not a super diverse sport, there’s not very many African-American wrestlers out there and so I want to come along and inspire people and hopefully them seeing me being the first four-time African-American state champ, they can try to bring wrestling to the Detroit Public School system,” said Davenport who finished his senior season at 38-1, pushing his career record to 181-10. “I just want to try to build wrestling through my own community.”
Davenport became the state’s 26th four-time champion, just minutes after Jordan Hamdan of Hudson became the 25th with a first-period pin over Logan Zell of New Lothrop to finish 52-0 his senior year, 208-8 for his career.
“It’s been a long journey, pretty surreal, an overwhelming moment, a lot to take in,” said Hamdan, who will wrestle at Michigan State.
Catholic Central senior Cameron Amine became a three-time state champion by winning the title at 152 pounds to finish at 40-0. He won titles his freshman and sophomore years before losing in the title match last year.
“It’s an accomplishment that not many people dream of and to fall short last year and to come and get it this year is something,” said Amine, who will wrestle next year at Michigan. “We won seven state titles as a team, that’s something special to make history. This team has made a lot of history and to end it like this my senior year is something special.”
Catholic Central sent two wrestlers — Derek Gilcher and Marc Shaeffer — to battle it out for the 140-pound state title and Gilcher came away with a 7-2 decision to repeat as state champion. Gilcher defeated Shaeffer, who then wrestled for Davison, 3-1 in a state quarterfinal match last year.
“It’s always hard to have to see someone on your team in the finals, especially in the state finals, but it was still fun,” said Gilcher who has Shaeffer as his practice partner. “He knew what I was going to do and I knew what he was going to do so it was tricky to work around that but I figured it out.”
Catholic Central junior Josh Edmond also repeated as state champion with a decision at 135 pounds.
Junior Steven Kolcheff won the title at 285 pounds to start the day for Catholic Central after losing in the title bout last year.
“It feels great, like all that hard work paid off,” Kolcheff said. “Our team has expectations. Our whole school has expectations in the classroom, on the mat and on the field and I was one of them right there, won a state championship.
“This year I was a lot more confident going into it. I think I was still young last year. My coaches helped me a ton, put the standard inside of me on the track and in the wrestling room.”
Easton Turner became the sixth Catholic Central wrestler to win a title with his 4-0 decision over Cal Stefanko of Davison in the 189-pound final. Turner won the state championship at 215 his junior year.
But, this time around Turner had to fight through pain to get the job done, wrestling with a shoulder injury.
“It’s been rough, waking up to my shoulder coming out during my sleep, waking up with some pain, but you just have to muscle through it,” Turner said. “I’ve been practicing and performing all month, really all season with this. My left shoulder, I tore my labrum twice, my right shoulder, I think the same thing.”
Junior Brendin Yatooma ended the day with an exclamation point for Catholic Central, earning a pin to win the 215-pound title.
“It ties St. Johns’ record of seven back in the Massa days, just a remarkable effort by these guys to win seven state titles which in Division 1 has never been done,” Catholic Central coach Mitch Hancock said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these guys with how hard they train and just how focused they are when they come in here. I think as defending champs it’s not easy to repeat. A lot of people cheer for the underdog and for them to overcome that I think is pretty neat too.”
Turner wasn’t the only wrestler to have to overcome pain to get the job done. Kolcheff also competed with a shoulder injury suffered during the football season.
Farmington senior Donovan King reached his dream of becoming a state champion by winning the 285-pound championship in Division 2 with a pin.
King tore his ACL midway through the football season after leading Farmington to a 5-0 record with 15 sacks during that span. He decided to wait on having surgery until the end of the wrestling season … and he’s glad he did after being forced to miss all of his junior year in football and wrestling with another knee injury suffered during a summer wrestling tournament.
“At the beginning of the season it wasn’t all great because I had a torn ACL, but getting to this point is great, feels amazing,” said King, who plans on wrestling at Michigan State, and said he had offers from Central Michigan, Toledo and Bowling Green for football. “All I can say is anything is possible.”
Brendan Ferretti of Macomb Dakota won the state title at 112 pounds in Division 1, defeating Zein Bazzi of Dearborn Heights Crestwood to finish 57-0.
Ferretti’s teammate, Nick Alayan won the title at 119 pounds with a win over Andrew Chambal of Davison after losing to Chambal in the 112-pound final last year, 7-1.
Clinton senior Noah Comar won the title at 125 pounds in Division 4. Comar, who will wrestle next year at Michigan, finished his career with a 219-8 record.