Kalamazoo — Top-ranked Detroit Catholic Central was trying to win four straight state championships for the first time in program history Saturday.
Catholic Central faced No. 2 seed Davison for the Division 1 state championship with Davison still owning the Class A/Division 1 record for consecutive state titles won when it earned five straight from 2002-06.
Davison defeated No. 3 seed Brighton 35-29 in one semifinal Saturday morning while Catholic Central defeated No. 5 seed Temperance Bedford 68-6.
It wasn’t just the No. 1 vs. No. 2 seed going head-to-head at Wings Event Center, but two national powers with Catholic Central ranked No. 5 by InterMat and Davison No. 12.
In the end, Catholic Central reached its goal, earning a hard-fought 34-23 victory, but it came in a controversial fashion.
Davison, trailing 17-16 heading into the 189-pound match sent Penn State-bound and two-time individual state champ Alex Facundo to the mat against Manny Rojas.
Facundo held a 5-2 lead in the second period when he picked up Rojas and slammed him to the mat, leaving Rojas dazed.
The officials put in a five-minute injury stoppage and the state high school athletic association-appointed doctor said Rojas couldn’t return due to possible concussion concerns, resulting in a disqualification for Facundo and a 22-17 Catholic Central lead instead of a 20-16 Davison advantage — if Facundo would have held on to win by decision.
That’s all Catholic Central would need as Brendin Yatooma (215 pounds) and Steven Kolcheff (285) — both individual state champions — came through with back-to-back pins for a 34-17 cushion to start the celebration, guaranteeing the title with just two matches remaining.
“It’s not the way we wanted it, our thoughts are with Manny (Rojas) at this point,” Catholic Central coach Mitch Hancock said. “You guys know I don’t take a slam. We had our 135-pounder get up, so we had an opportunity to do that. It’s not the way we wanted it, but without that (disqualification) we still win that dual by two points, so the big guys up top (Yatooma, Kolcheff) stepped up.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Manny and we just hope he gets healthy quick. The doctor evaluates him. Coaches have no decision in that, so that’s why the booing (by Davison fans) and stuff is frustrating. I have no decision in any of that. The doctor came out and evaluated him for a concussion and the doctor made the call, I didn’t make the damn call.”
Yatooma, who was one of seven seniors, talked about becoming part of the first class in Catholic Central history to win four state titles.
“It means a ton to us, it means a ton to the community, so to be able to come out here and make history, especially with how rich in wrestling we are as a school, just being able to be remembered for that makes a huge impact on us and it’s something we’ll never forget for the rest of our lives,” Yatooma said.
“We (Yatooma, Kolcheff) knew what we had to do and there were no nerves. We’ve been in this situation before. Last year, it came down to me and Steven against them (Davison) at their place, we were down six and I tied it up and Steven won it by six. We love the pressure. We love to have everything on us, all the bets on us because we come out ready to go.”
The match opened at 119 pounds with Catholic Central’s Dylan Gilcher earning a 6-5 decision over Owen Payne before Michigan State-bound Andrew Chambal of Davison pinned Caleb White at 125 for a 6-3 cushion.
Then, things got interesting with Davison’s Kyle White battling back from a 5-2 deficit to defeat TJ Bunn at 130 7-5 for a 9-3 cushion before Josh Edmund of Catholic Central earned a 25-10 tech fall win at 135 pounds and his teammate Camden Trupp pinned Dominik Watson at 140 for a 13-9 Catholic Central lead.
Davison again pulled out matches in the final seconds with James Johnston making a spin move and taking down Matt Shaeffer at 145 with a 4-3 decision and then Davison’s Josh Barr getting a reversal and then a takedown for a 6-5 decision and 15-13 lead.
Catholic Central set a Class A/Division 1 state record last season when it won its seventh state title in a decade but had its string of three straight state titles (2012-14) halted by Brighton during the run.
Davison, which was without head coach Roy Hall who was involved in a car accident earlier this week, was looking for its first state title since that 2006 season.
Davison assistant coach Zac Hall was dismayed how events surrounding Facundo’s match transpired.
“What upset us is that Manny popped right up to his feet and he’s going back to wrestle and their head coach (Hancock) kind of comes up and says, ‘No, we need an injury time,’ and you guys see the score right, it changes the whole complexion of the dual,” Hall said. “It just disappointing for our guys who wrestled their heart out. You even felt it in the atmosphere, it was very back and forth, electric and then it went silent.
“I hope Manny’s OK. I know Manny. I’ve trained Manny. He’s a good kid. I just wished things would have worked out differently and been handled on the mat. I don’t like that it had to go to that, I don’t think anybody did. I just told our guys to keep their heads high.”
Lowell wins 7th straight D2 title
Lowell set a state record by winning its sixth straight Division 2 state championship last season and stepped on the mat in the final as the No. 1 seed, taking on No. 2 seed Gaylord.
Many of the wrestlers were familiar with each other since the teams competed for the title two years ago with Lowell coming out on top, 43-17.
Lowell was primed for yet another title run after putting on dominating performances in the quarterfinals (63-10 over Croswell-Lexington) and semifinals (58-9 over Muskegon Reeths-Puffer).
And, Lowell won its seventh straight championship in style, earning a one-sided 53-4 win over Gaylord.
Jacob Lee (171) had a pin for Lowell which also received a tech fall win by Nick Korhom (119).
Dundee makes it three-peat in D3
Richmond coach Brandon Day talked about his program’s rich history after Friday night’s quarterfinal win over Kingsley, how Richmond won eight state titles and been state runner-up another seven times.
Richmond won four of those state titles by defeating Dundee in the title bout while finishing runner-up five times in losses to Dundee, including 2018 and ’19.
And, it just so happened that No. 1 seed Dundee and No. 2 seed Richmond faced off again with a championship at stake Saturday afternoon and while Dundee needed to get a decision to pull out a 26-25 upset win a year ago, Dundee dominated from the beginning in building a 35-3 lead before earning its third straight championship, 44-18.
Josh Barton earned a 5-4 decision at 119 pounds to give Richmond a 3-0 lead, but Dundee won the next eight matches, including pins by Casey Swiderski (135) and Tyler Swiderski (152) for the 35-3 lead.
Clinton prevails in D4
Top-seeded Hudson has been the premier team in Division 4 for a long, long time, winning eight titles in the last 11 years.
Hudson defeated No. 5 seed Manchester 31-29 in a semifinal Saturday morning while No. 3 seed Clinton upset No. 2 seed New Lothrop, 32-26.
Hudson entered as the three-time defending champs, defeating New Lothrop to bring home the ultimate trophy in 2017 and ’18 and Clinton last year.
But, this time around Clinton came out on top, fighting back from an 18-0 deficit after four matches to earn a 36-27 win to earn its first state championship.
Kent McCombs had a 15-0 technical fall at 145 pounds to pull Clinton within 18-10, then later watched teammates Noah DeShano (decision at 160), Brayden Randolph (tech fall at 171), Logan Badge (pin at 189), Jack Voll (pin at 215), Will Felts (decision at 285) and Connor Busz (decision at 103) win six consecutive matches for a 36-21 lead.