Highlighted by a pair of Division 4 state champions in Mendon’s Skyler Crespo and Schoolcraft’s River Fox, wrestlers from Cass, St. Joseph and Kalamazoo Counties made their mark at the 2019 MHSAA Championships at Ford Field over the weekend. A total of 15 area grapplers earned all-state (top eight) status, which included a runner-up performance by White Pigeon’s Kyle Black.
All-State (Top 8)
Constantine’s Gage Ensign
Constantine’s Boe Eckman
Dowagiac’s Wyatt Bailey
Dowagiac’s Dylan Elmore
Cassopolis’ Dylan Green
Martin’s Michael Minne
Colon’s Brenden Shelton
White Pigeon’s Evan Atherton
White Pigeon’s Austin Raymond
White Pigeon’s Kyle Black
Mendon’s Kody Drewer
Mendon’s Skyler Crespo
Mendon’s Emmett Bingaman
Schoolcraft’s River Fox
Schoolcraft’s Caden Suckich
Leonardo Gallasso, a 160-pound sophomore from Kalamazoo Central, and Portage Northern senior Mitchell Derhammer (145) were eliminated from the tournament after dropping their first two matches.
Edwardsburg’s Jackson Hoover, a sophomore at 135 pounds, lost his opening match by technical fall but bounced back in the first round of the consolation bracket with a pin in 4:30 over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern’s Gabe Hassan. Hoover lost an 8-2 decision against Eaton Rapids’ Chris Haynes in the next round.
The Eddies’s Dillon Hursh (189) finished 0-2 in his weight class.
After a first-round loss by pin, Comstock junior Brandon Bavin (160) earned a 13-11 decision in the consolation bracket before being pinned by Onsted’s Cole Wixom in 4:15 in the blood round.
Constantine sophomore Gage Ensign (130) rallied after a first-round loss and beat Grand Rapids Catholic’s Keegan Greene by pin (1:26) and Harper Woods’ Pierce Muthul-Edwards 2-1 to ensure an all-state top-eight finish. Ensign lost to Richmond’s Hunter Seguin 5-0 to land in the seventh-place match, which he won by forfeit.
Classmate Isaac Hall (171) produced a pin in the first round and then lost by fall (3:59) to Richmond’s Wesley Peters in the championship quarterfinals. A fall to Hudsonville Christian’s Lucas VanderPloeg (2:27) ended Hall’s tournament.
At 215 pounds, Constantine sophomore Boe Eckman produced a pin in 3:22 to start the tournament but was on the wrong end of a 7-2 decision against Armada’s Nathan Nowik. In the consolation bracket, Eckman got back on track with a 17-4 major decision versus Chippewa Hills’ Carl Whipple before dropping an 11-5 decision to Farwell’s Jay Thrush. As a result Eckman had an opportunity to wrestle for seventh place against Delton-Kellogg’s Caden Ferris, whom Eckman pinned in 40 seconds.
Dowagiac sophomore Wyatt Bailey (285) began the tourney with a quick pin in the first round and then lost by pin (2:55) to Algonac’s Mike Nykoriak in the championship quarterfinals. Wrestling back through the consolation bracket, Bailey beat Gladwin’s James Bailey by fall (1:55) and lost by pin (0:45) to Chippewa Hills’ Colby Roosa to land in the seventh-place bout. Bailey would end up eighth overall following a loss by pin (4:36) to Imlay City’s Joe Harper.
Fellow Chieftain Dylan Elmore (119) finished fifth place overall in his weight class after an eventful trip to Ford Field. Elmore was on the championship track with two victories to start the tournament. But an 8-0 loss to Montrose’s Jake Elasivich in the semifinals ended the title run. In the consolation bracket, Elmore lost 5-1 to Otsego’s Josh Sunnerville but went on to top Millton’s Hunter Norris 8-1 in the fifth-place bout.
Cassopolis senior Dylan Green captured fifth place for all-state status at 171 pounds. Greene lost his opener Friday but regrouped with a 5-1 victory over Clinton’s Cecil Rafferty and a 1-0 decision versus Bronson’s Rugger Ranney. Green topped Hudson’s John Betz 4-2 before losing 4-0 against Athens’ Hunter Bowersox with a spot in the third-place match on the line. In the fifth-place bout, Green defeated Brown City’s Josh Pasco 6-2.
Centreville junior Jonny Gregory finished 1-2 at 215 pounds. He lost his first match, bounced back with a 6-0 victory against Breckenridge’s Logan Hurst, and then was eliminated following a pin by Climax-Scotts/Martin’s Michael Minne (2:46).
Minne lost his next match to end up in the seventh-place bout against Carson City-Crystal’s Brian Yeakey, who won 3-1.
Also for Climax-Scotts/Martin, 152-pound senior Jordan Tutt finished with a 1-2 record and 189-pound senior Cooper Simmons was 0-2.
Colon senior Brenden Shelton closed out a fine career with a fourth-place effort at 189 pounds. Shelton pinned Erie Mason’s Jon Frank in the first match and then lost by fall (2:59) to Beaverton’s Kyle Cassiday in the championship quarterfinals. Shelton responded with a pin against Bronson’s Justin Blankinship (2:40) and another pin against Hanover-Horton’s Trent Hocter (1:48). Shelton kept rolling with a pin versus Carson City-Crystal’s Daniel Smith in 2:59 to reach the consolation finals. Whittemore Prescott’s Ridge Schutte ended up pinning Shelton in 2:44 for third place.
White Pigeon’s Kyle Black (senior) reached finals at 145 but lost by injury default for a runner-up effort in his final prep tournament. Black was on a roll early at Ford Field with a 41-second pin in the first round and a technical fall in the quarterfinals. He edged Ravenna’s Garry Johnson 7-6 in the semis to set up a championship bout with New Lothrop’s Austin Wolford. Black ended the year with a 45-3 record.
The Chiefs’ Evan Atherton also put a bow on a great prep career with Saturday’s third-place finish at 112 pounds. With a first-round victory, Atherton ran into Carson City-Crystal’s Jamison Ward in the championship quarterfinals and lost by pin in 41 seconds. But Atherton made an impressive run through the consolation bracket, which included an 8-6 victory against Mendon’s Chris Rios in the blood round. Atherton would collect an 11-3 major versus Oscoda’s Anthony Ward and a 2-1 victory against Niles Brandywine’s Hunter Heath to reach the consolation finals, where he would eventually top Kent City’s Evan Jones 3-0.
Austin Raymond (112) secured all-state status with his sixth-place effort, that ended with a loss by pin (1:34) to New Lothrop’s Andrew Krupp in the fifth-place match. Before that, Raymond had to come back from an opening-round loss. He would go on to pin Flint Hamady’s Kellen Dixon and defeat Napoleon’s Nick Marienfeld 10-9 in the blood round. Raymond also defeated Clinton’s Brandon Beach (3-2) before falling to Iron Mountain’s Parker Stroud in 1:47.
The Chiefs’ Dakota Conley was 0-2 at 140 pounds.
For the third consecutive year, Mendon’s Skyler Crespo was the last man standing in his weight class as the junior claimed his third state championship. The 140-pounder dominated the championship bracket, beginning the tournament with a pin (1:13) over Rogers City’s Isaac Hein and a technical fall versus Clinton’s Kent McCombs in the quarterfinals. Crespo registered another technical fall in the semifinals, this time against New Lothrop’s Micah Poletti. In the finals, Crespo pieced together a 13-0 major decision against Bad Axe’s Ryan Wehner for the title. Crespo ended the year with a 51-2 record.
Mendon junior Emmett Bingaman competed well at Ford Field at 215 pounds, claiming third place in the state. With a first-round pin and a quarterfinal victory to start the tournament, Bingaman needed to get past Clinton’s Logan Badge for a shot at the title. But Badge wasn’t going to budge and he topped Bingaman 6-1 in the semifinals. Bingaman would go on to beat Oscoda’s Christian Ward 7-2 and then deliver a 7-3 victory over Watervliet’s Matt Melcher in the consolation finals. Bingaman ended the year with a 50-2 record.
At 135, Hornets senior Kody Drewer logged a fourth-place finish for all-state status. He cruised to 7-0 and 7-2 victories in the championship bracket before running into New Lothrop’s Logan Zell, who registered a 12-1 major in the semifinals. Drewer was guaranteed a top-eight finish with the two victories, and he edged Onaway’s Matthew Grant 2-1 to reach the consolation finals. There, Clinton’s Spencer Konz pulled off a 2-1 victory over Drewer.
Senior Chris Rios (130) and junior Eric Vergauwen (145) ended the tournament with 1-2 records.
Schoolcraft senior River Fox also capped his high school career with the ultimate prize after crushing the heavyweight bracket to become the first individual champion in program history. Fox collected two pins in 40 seconds or less in the first two rounds against Vandercook Lake’s Connor Riddle and Ravenna’s Alex Straub, respectively. He went on to record a 7-0 decision versus Pine River’s Bryan McCurry to earn a spot in the championship bout against Manton’s Jake Renfer. Fox delivered in the finals with a 7-1 victory to finish the year 54-2.
Caden Sukich made the all-state podium in fourth place at 112 pounds. The junior claimed victories in the first two rounds but lost a 4-0 battle with Carson City-Crystal’s Nolan Datema in the championship semifinals. Sukich defeated New Lothrop’s Andrew Krupp 5-3 before being pinned in 2:32 by Iron Mountain’s Parker Stroud in the third-place bout.
Hunter Martens, a sophomore for the Eagles, was 1-2 at 119 pounds, as was junior Mark Fox at 152.