Top Michigan Squads Head to Ohio for Showdown With St. Eds

By Steve Widzinski
MI Grappler High School Analyst

1/26 – In the 2011-2012 season more Michigan teams have enjoyed national recognition than any year in recent memory.  This weekend two of those teams will have an opportunity to prove themselves against one of the nation’s premier wrestling powerhouses.  On Saturday St. Johns and Detroit Catholic Central will head south to wrestle St. Edward of Ohio, currently ranked #2 in the country by Intermat and The Open Mat.  Below is our in-depth preview of what both dual meets hold in store.

St Johns vs. St Eds

106lbs: Drew Wixson (STJ) vs. LJ Bentley (STE)
113lbs: #14 Zac Hall (STJ) vs. Alex Moore (STE)
120: Logan Massa (STJ) vs. Colin Heffernan (STE)
126: Jacob Schmitt (STJ) vs. #2 Dean Heil (STE)
132: Brant Schafer (STJ) vs. #8 Edgar Bright (STE)
138: Josh Pennell (STJ) vs. Nick Barber (STE)
145: #2 Ben Whitford (STJ) vs. Markus Scheidel (STE)
152: Travis Curley (STJ) vs. Matt Van Curen (STE)
160: #20 Jordan Wohlfert (STJ) vs. Jacob Davis (STE)
170: #1 Taylor Massa (STJ) vs. #5 Mark Martin (STE)
182: Mike Schafer (STJ) vs. #11 Dominic Abounader (STE)
195: Payne Hayden (STJ) vs. #20 James Suvak (STE)
220: CJ Dominguez/Blake Cooper (STJ) vs. #14 Ty Walz (STE)
285: Ben Proctor/Blake Cooper (STJ) vs. Joe Belford (STE)

Analysis: For the Red Wings, no event this season will be bigger than their dual with St. Eds this weekend.  Many have speculated that St. Johns could be best high school team in America, and due to travel restrictions this will be their best opportunity to prove themselves to the national rankers.  Because St. Eds is ranked #2 nationally and has lost to Blair Academy, the odds of St. Johns being able to jump to #1 are slim to none.  However, that does not diminish the importance of this dual for either St. Johns or the state of Michigan.  It has been quite some time since a team from Michigan has been regarded as highly as St. Johns, and if they can beat traditional powerhouse St. Eds it will be a huge statement about both the strength of their team and the direction of high school wrestling in Michigan.
Because of the newly adopted NHSCA weight classes, St.
Johns will need to adjust their lineup a bit when competing in Ohio
this weekend.  This will probably hurt the Red Wings, as the biggest
strength of the St. Ed’s lineup is in the newly expanded upperweights.
However, this will be counteracted by the absence of #4 ranked St.
Eds heavyweight Greg Kuhar who is not expected to be in the lineup
Saturday.  Based on the projected matchups this dual has all the
makings of a barn-burner that will be determined by a number of
critical swing matches. 
At 120lbs they will need a big effort from freshman Logan
Massa, who should matchups with St. Ed’s Collin Heffernan.  While
neither of these wrestlers have yet become megastars like some of
their teammates, their matchup will play a key role in the dual’s
outcome.  At 126lbs and 132lbs St Eds has their big 1-2 punch of #2
Dean Heil and #8 Edgar Bright.  While it will be tough for St. Johns to
win at either of these weights, Jacob Schmitt and Brant Schafer are
two of Michigan’s best and should have a good shot to prevent any
bonus for St. Eds.
The next critical swing is expected at 138lbs, were Josh Pennell
should see Nick Barber.  This will be especially important, as St.
Johns will look to stop any momentum created by St. Eds at 126 and
132.  If they can win at 138, the Red Wings should have a good chance
to get on a roll when Ben Whitford comes up at 145lbs.  Currently
ranked as the #1 wrestler in the class of 2013, Whitford will be one of
a select few wrestlers expected to pick up bonus points in this dual. 
If he can score big, it could lead to a big run for St. Johns who will
have the potential to pick up wins at 152, 160 and 170.
Perhaps the duals most intriguing matchup will come at 170 where Taylor Massa will face a serious challenge for the first time this high school season.  His opponent will be Mark Martin, currently ranked #5 nationally by Intermat.  Martin is an Ohio state champion and FILA Junior champion so this will be one of the rare instances where St. Johns won’t be able to count of Massa for big points.  At 182 and 220 St Eds has studs Dominic Abounader and Ty Walz who will both be looking for pins.  Because of this, it’s critical that Payne Hayden can come up with a win in between when he takes on #20 James Suvak at 195.
There are very few weights where the final outcome can be easily predicted, and this dual should go back and forth until the very end.  It will take St. John’s best performance of the season to pull it off, but the matchups are in place for the Red Wings to come out on top Saturday.

DCC vs. St Eds

106lbs: Trevor Zdebski (DCC) vs. LJ Bentley (STE)
113lbs: Myles Amine (DCC) vs. Alex Moore (STE)
120: TJ Fagan/Evan Toth (DCC) vs. Colin Heffernan (STE)
126: Ken Bade (DCC) vs. #2 Dean Heil (STE)
132: Malik Amine (DCC) vs. #8 Edgar Bright (STE)
138: Logan Marcicki (DCC) vs. Nick Barber (STE)
145: #19 Alec Mooradian (DCC) vs. Markus Scheidel (STE)
152: Nick Mason (DCC) vs. Matt Van Curen (STE)
160: Drew Garcia (DCC) vs. Jacob Davis (STE)
170: Nick Giese (DCC) vs. #5 Mark Martin (STE)
182: Kevin Beazley (DCC) vs. #11 Dominic Abounader (STE)
195: JT Ayotte (DCC) vs. #20 James Suvak (STE)
220: Jay Peterson (DCC) vs. #14 Ty Walz (STE)
285: Bob Coe (DCC) vs. Joe Belford (STE)

Analysis: Over the past few years Michigan has witnessed the ascension of Detroit Catholic Central to a perennial state wrestling power.  While the Shamrocks have always fielded competitive squads, it has only been in recent years that they have graduated from a top ten team to a nationally ranked powerhouse.  Now ranked in the top 15 nationally by Intermat and The Open Mat, DCC’s 2011-2012 team is likely the best in the school’s rich history.  They lack any wrestlers who are true national superstars like Whitford or Massa, but their lineup is littered with state champion caliber wrestlers who have had success on the national level.
This season the team has tested themselves as much anyone in Michigan, creating a rigorous schedule that has included three opponents ranked in the top 25 nationally.  Their most impressive victory came last weekend, when they knocked off #16 Cincinnati Moeller by a score of 34-19.  Now they will travel to Ohio for a dual in which they will be distinct underdogs.  While the odds are not stacked in their favor against St. Eds, DCC’s depth and versatility make them one of the country’s most dangerous teams to matchup with.  Like St. Johns, more of their firepower rests in the middleweights, so the newly adopted NHSCA weight classes used in Ohio will be more advantageous to St. Eds.  It will take quite an effort for the Shamrocks to unseat the nations #2 team, and they will have to come away with a win in every swing match.
From 106-132 St. Eds has a big advantage and DCC’s biggest objective will be minimizing bonus points. Their best bet to win is at 106, where Trevor Zdebski should have a chance to pick up a victory Shamrocks.  They do have state champion Ken Bade at 126, but this will be a rare occasion where he will be overmatched.  St Ed’s has #2 Dean Heil at 126, and DCC likely will not bump Bade because #8 Edgar
Bright sits at 132.  Because of St. Ed’s weapons at 126 and
132, it would be absolutely huge if DCC can win two out of
three matches between 106-120.
The best opportunity for the Shamrocks to put up points
will be in the middle of the lineup where they are absolutely
loaded from 138-160.  At 138 Marcicki will butt heads with
Nick Barber, which will be another match that DCC really
needs to have.  Their opportunities to score bonus will be
slim, and few are better at creating pins than Marcicki.  At
145 Mooradian should be in line for a win, but his opponent
Markus Scheidel will be tough to score bonus on.  152 and
160 will be a pair of toss ups that will give the Shamrocks a
chance to create some momentum heading into the gauntlet
that is the St. Eds upperweights.
The best chance for DCC to win from 170-285 is at 182,
where Kevin Beazley will likely wrestler #11 Dominic
Abounader.  They could also bump him to 195 to wrestle #20
James Suvak, but either way he will have a very tough
opponent.  With St. Ed’s missing superstar big man Greg
Kuhar the Shamrocks could also have a chance to steal one
at 285, where Bob Coe will wrestle St. Ed’s backup heavy. It
will take a lot to go right in order for the Shamrocks to pull this
one off, but by no means will St. Eds have a chance to relax
at any point in this dual.

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