Division 4 Team Preview

By Steve Widzinski
MI Grappler High School Analyst

1. Hudson
Ranked Wrestlers: Roddy Hamdan (#2 103), Isaac Dusseau (#6 112), Cole Weaver (#1 125), Joel Varney (#1 152), Devan Marry (#1 171), James Herron (#4 189), Zach Rieger (#3 285)
Key Losses: Tyler Mattison (119), Camden McCaskey (135), Grant Benschoter (171) Matt Smith (189)
Impact Newcomers: Roddy Hamdan 103 (Freshman)

Outlook: While they may not have the national accolades of other powerhouse programs, very rarely has any team been as consistently dominant within their division the way Hudson has been over the past three years.  Since losing in the quarterfinals in 2008, the Tigers have won Division 4 state titles in each of the past three seasons.  Now the program enters 2011-2012 in search of their fourth consecutive team title, one that would further validate their place as one of Michigan’s great high school wrestling dynasties.
The Tigers lose several key starters to graduation, but
return the majority of their elite firepower.  Heading into the
season, three Hudson wrestlers are currently ranked atop their
weight class in Division 4.  They are especially loaded in the
upperweights where they have a wealth of talent and experience. 
Senior Devan Marry, currently ranked first at 171, has been a key
fixture in the Tiger’s run of dominance.  Already a two-time state
champion, Marry will be vying for his third individual title in 2012. 
Another Hudson wrestler who has stood on top of the podium at
The Palace is Joel Varney, D4’s top ranked wrestler at 152. 
Joining Marry and Varney as highly ranked wrestlers in the
Tiger’s upperweights will be James Herron at 189 and Zach
Riegerat 285.
The top gun down low for Hudson will be the highly
regarded Cole Weaver at 125.  After reaching the state finals in his freshman year, Weaver enters 2011-2012 atop the D4 rankings at 125lbs.  Other Tiger’s lowerweights included in the preseason rankings are Roddy Hamdan at 103 and Isaac Dusseau at 112.  While not quite as stacked as the upperweights, Hudson certainly has adequate firepower down low.  Several weights will be filled by new starters, which should be no concern based on the way the program has reloaded the past few years.  While there are certainly other teams on the rise in Division 4, Hudson’s talent and proven ability to win in the postseason make them the favorite to four-peat.  

2. Hesperia
Ranked Wrestlers: Chase Siersema (#2 112), Shawn Rosencrans (#3 125) Zack Yates (#2 130), Cash Bolles (#3 145), Lee Siersema (#7 152), Dillon Sibley (#3 160), Keith Smith (#7 189), Brett Martin (#4 285)
Key Losses: Jordan Bosma (130), Jordan Bates (152), Cody Wolevor (285)

Outlook: In 2010-2011 the Panthers fielded their youngest team in recent memory.  Despite their youth Hesperia had a great deal of team success, defeating New Lothrop in a memorable semifinal before falling to Hudson in the state finals.  Now after losing just four seniors to graduation, the Panthers will be looking to avenge last year’s finals loss and claim their first D4 title since 2008.  The talent is certainly in place for the team to achieve their goals; they will begin the season with eight ranked wrestlers, six of whom are ranked in the top four of their weight class.
There doesn’t appear to be any major holes in their lineup, the Panthers are rich in experience in the upperweights with some highly talented guys who can carry the load in the upperweights.  Among the key leaders for Hesperia will be Shawn Rosencrans at 125, Dillon Sibley at 160 and Brett Martin at 285.  All three are seniors who placed at the state meet last year and are currently ranked in the top five for their weight class.  Complimenting their veterans will be a highly talented group of younger guys that includes guys such as state runner-ups Chase Siersema at 112 and Cash Bolles at 145, as well as all-stater Zack Yates who could see time anywhere from 119 to 130.  With this mix of talent and experience, Hesperia will pose a serious threat to ending Hudson’s run of dominance in Division 4.

3. New Lothrop
Ranked Wrestlers: Josh Wendling (#3 112), Jacob Perrin (#2 119), Taylor Krupp (#9 130), Clayton Symons (#2 140), Aaron Bauman (#6 145) Wade Erhardt (#4 152), Cody Symons (#8 160), Austin Severn (#1 189)
Key Losses: Bela Nemeth (125), Justin Krupp (130)

Outlook: There is no question who the surprise team was in Division 4 last year.  While New Lothrop was ranked at the beginning of the season, they exceeded expectations by posting some huge dual meet wins over the course of the year.  Powered by a balanced lineup of young talent and veteran leadership, the Hornets reached the state semifinals before falling to Hesperia in back and forth dual meet that came down to the final match.  They lose a few key components of the team to graduation, but the Hornet’s should have the depth and firepower to overcome the departures.  This year’s New Lothrop team will be more experienced and joins Hudson and Hesperia as one of the three main contenders to end the year as Division 4 state champions.
Two defending state champions will lead a pack of studs for New Lothrop that consists of five wrestlers ranked in the top four of their weight class.  After winning state titles last year, Clayton Symons and Austin Severn will be expected to contribute big points for the Hornets in 2012.  Others who will need to have big years for New Lothrop to reach their goals include the highly ranked Josh Wendling and Jacob Perrin who will anchor the lightweights at 112 and 119.  Adding some scoring power to the middle of the lineup will be Aaron Bauman, Wade Erhardt and Cody Symons at 145, 152 and 160.  Rounding out the ranked wrestlers for the Hornet’s is sophomore Taylor Krupp who is currently slotted ninth at 130lbs.  With the way their talent is spread throughout the lineup, this will be an excellent dual meet team that will be tough to beat in the postseason.

4. Manchester
Ranked Wrestlers: Tim Conway (#10 130), Austin Hamilton (#3 215)
Key Losses: Ryan Abrigo (119), Austin Deacons (125), Johnny Woolams (145), Dylan Neff (285)

Outlook: While they may not be able to boast the big name firepower of some of the other top teams in D4, Manchester will field a very balanced team of proven wrestlers.  This formula has proven to be a successful one for the Dutchmen, who will be searching for their sixth consecutive regional title this year.  They have a very reasonable regional draw, and a return to the state semifinals is a very realistic possibility.
As previously mentioned, Manchester will rely on depth and consistency as opposed to getting big points from superstars.  They have two wrestlers listed in the preseason individual rankings: Austin Hamilton who ranked third at 215, and Tim Conway who is in the number ten spot at 130.  The team’s other returning state qualifier is Cody Render who could see time at 152 or 160.  Matt Munson and Eric Coval were both regional qualifiers as freshman last year that will need to assume bigger roles in order to make up for the four state placers lost to graduation.

5. Shelby
Ranked Wrestlers: Austin Felt (#4 103) Will Foster (#7 119), Anthony Guerra (#5 135), Mason Courtright (#2 171)
Key Losses: Seth Leutzinger (189) Tyler Blohm (285)

Outlook: After moving down from Division 3, Shelby will be the wildcard team in D4 this year.  The Tigers spent most of last year in the team rankings, before falling to Allendale in the regional finals.  They lose a few big guns to graduation, but return enough talent to be a threat in Division 4.  However, they come in with the chips stacked against them after being placed in the same district as Hesperia.
The top wrestler in the Shelby lineup will be Mason Courtright, a two-time state placer who could see time at 171 and 189.  Also high in the rankings for the Tigers is Austin Felt, who will be back at 103 after coming a match away from qualifying for states in 2010-2011.  Other key wrestlers include returning state qualifiers Will Foster at 119 and Anthony Guerra at 135 who are both included in the preseason rankings.  They will have to make up for some big losses in the upperweights, but Shelby has the talent to make a smooth transition and be a top team in D4.

6. Decatur
Ranked Wrestlers: Hunter Bell (#1 103), Luke Bell (#1 119) Ruben Chavez (#10 215)
Key Losses: Mitch Kennedy (135), Zack MacKellar (160), Brandon Grosvenor (189)
Impact Newcomers: Hunter Bell 103 (Freshman)

Outlook: Following the loss of several key contributors from the middle of the lineup, Decatur will rely heavily on their standout lowerweights to help them return to Battle Creek in 2012.  The Raiders, who will be vying for back to back regional titles, will be lead by Luke Bell.  Arguably D4’s top wrestler, Bell is a two-time state champion who should see time at 119 and 125 this year.  Joining the lineup this year is Hunter Bell, Luke’s younger brother.  Hunter will begin his high school career atop the individual rankings at 103lbs, giving the Raiders two of Division 4’s top lowerweights.  Also in the rankings for Decatur is Ruben Chavez who is slotted tenth at 215.  They enter the season as heavy favorites to win their regional, so there is a high likelihood of another appearance at the team finals for the Raiders.

7. Dansville
Ranked Wrestlers: Foster Bunce (#3 119), Luke Ragon (#4 130), Cole Ragon (#10 135), Joey Stid (#5 171), Lantz Miller (#5 215)
Key Losses: Arthur Bunce (215)

Outlook: With the obvious exception of 215lbs state champion Arthur Bunce, Dansville brings back the majority of the team that won a regional title in 2010-2011.  Five Aggies are included in the preseason rankings, tied for the most of any D4 team outside the big three of Hudson, Hesperia and New Lothrop.  Of their ranked wrestlers, four are slotted in the top five of their weight class.  Foster Bunce enters the year ranked third at 119, after placing fifth at the state meet last March.  Other Aggies who placed at The Palace in 2011 are Luke Ragon and Lantz Miller who are projected to wrestle at 130 and 215.  Cole Ragon at 135 and Joey Stid at 171 are other Dansville wrestlers currently ranked at their weight class.  There are still some holes for the Aggies to fill, but they are in good shape to win their regional and be competitive at team states.

8. Springport
Ranked Wrestlers: Darrin Crandall (#10 119), Jacob Cooper (#5 140), Joe Ericson (#1 215)
Key Losses: Aaron Lammers (189)
Impact Newcomers: Jacob Cooper 140 (Freshman)

Outlook: Springport had a very good team in 2011 that was
hampered by the misfortune of being placed in the same
region as Hudson.  This year’s draw brought no better luck
for the Spartans, who once again will have to get through
Hudson to win a regional title.  The Spartans bring back
most of their key wrestlers from last year’s team, lead by
big man Joe Ericson who will be a favorite to win a state
title at 215 or 285.  Springport’s other returning state
qualifier is Darrin Crandall, currently ranked tenth at 119lbs
in D4.  Another key component of the Spartan’s lineup will
be highly touted freshman Jacob Cooper who enters the
year ranked fifth at 140.  Like last year Springport is certainly
a top ten team in Division 4 talent wise, but their regional
matchup with Hudson gives them a very tall mountain to
climb in order to reach the team finals.

9. Constantine
Ranked Wrestlers: Dustin Moyer (#9 125), Andres Montoya (#7 145), Ben Mallo (#7 160), Jeremiah Waterman (#9 171), Dominick Rogers (#10 189)
Key Losses: Chase Gearhart (112), Zach Mallo (125)

Outlook: With five wrestlers included in the preseason individual rankings, the odds appear to be in favor of the Falcons repeating as regional champions.  They don’t have the big firepower of some other teams in the D4 rankings, but their lineup is filled with guys who have state placer potential.  Of their seven state qualifiers from 2011, five will be back on the roster this season.  Jeremiah Waterman and Dominick Rogers should anchor the lower weights after qualifying for the state meet as sophomores a year ago.  Returning qualifiers Andres Montoya and Ben Mallo will be the key to the Falcon’s middleweights at 145 and 160.  The only senior ranked for the team is Dustin Moyer at 125, who will be their biggest weapon down low.

10. Addison
Ranked Wrestlers: Jason Richardson (#8 112), Ty Defay (#7 125), Coty Kimble (#1 130), Jared Bruner (#3 152)
Key Losses: Kyle Fletcher (140)
Impact Newcomers: Jason Richardson 112 (Freshman)

Outlook: After a state runner-up performance in 2010, last year served as a bit of a rebuilding year for Addison who reached the regional finals before falling to Hudson.  With the exception of two-time state champion Kyle Fletcher, nearly all of the Panther’s starters are back from last year.  They will be also be bolstered by the addition of immediate impact freshman Jason Richardson who starts his career ranked eight at 112lbs.  He will be joined by two other ranked guys in the lower weights who will key for Addison. Coty Kimble is currently the top ranked D4 wrestler at 130lbs after a fourth place finish at The Palace last March, and state qualifier Ty Defay comes in ranked seventh at 125.  Leading the way in the upperweights will be third ranked Jared Bruner who could see time at 152 and 160, as well as returning state qualifier Drew Jackson who is likely to wrestle at 171.  Despite retaining most of their talent and gaining experience, the Panthers road back to Battle Creek will not be easy as they are once again in the same region as Hudson

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Joel Varney (Photo Credit: Hudson Post-Gazette)
Joe Ericson (Photo Credit: Springport Schools)