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January 3, 2010

Posted Wednesday, January 13, 2010 by PAUL COSTANZO
January 3, 2010

Seeing Blue (Devils)

Richmond dominates list of top wrestlers

By PAUL COSTANZO
Times Herald

 

Unlike basketball or football, it's quite simple to pick out individual standouts in wrestling.

But as Richmond co-coach George Hamblin said, wrestling is the ultimate team sport, and that shows in this batch of rankings.

Hamblin's Blue Devils clearly are the top team in the Blue Water Area, and they've made a pretty good case as the top team in the state early on in the season. Simply put, they're loaded. That's why you'll see nearly half the spots on this list filled with Richmond wrestlers.

And after that is a large group of grapplers from Port Huron Northern and Capac.

Perhaps I'm stating the obvious, but this is a sport where depth is so incredibly important, that a list like this can be overcrowded with wrestlers from the best teams.

The sick thing about it is, the Blue Devils probably have legitimate arguments for more kids on this list.

1. Brian Henke, Richmond, junior: While there is plenty of talent in the area as far as wrestling goes, this one is pretty clear cut. Henke has two top-four finishes, including a runner-up finish as a sophomore.

Just a junior, he's garnering interest from around the country when it comes to colleges, and with two more state finals to improve on his standing, I'd expect that to go up.

2. Josh Rivard, Richmond, senior: We should have known to expect big things from Rivard when he nearly pulled off a monumental upset his freshman year in the team state championship match against Dundee.

His unorthodox style has given opponents fits for three years, and now he's one of the top wrestlers in the state in his weight class.

3. Tom Bolday, Capac, junior: Bolday was having a fine season last year heading into district action, but he turned things up a notch into the postseason. He pulled off some upsets at the state finals and ended up with a spot on the podium.

This year, he has picked up where he left off, storming to a 20-1 record with the loss coming against a wrestler ranked in the top three in all divisions in his weight class.

4. Roger Crump, Richmond, senior: Anyone who has watched Crump wrestle wasn't surprised he was one of the best linebackers and tacklers in the area. He was a state runner-up a year ago at 160 pounds.

Crump has three losses, but an argument could be made that he belongs at any of the spots above this. As for those three losses, all came to a wrestler ranked No. 1.

5. Camden Sebring, Port Huron Northern, senior: Sebring was a wrestler who coach Ken Meinhardt had high hopes for coming into the season, and he hasn't disappointed, winning the Macomb County Tournament.

Since coming over from Richmond -- where he did most of his training before high school -- after his sophomore season, Sebring has been a force for Northern, earning an all-state finish a year ago.

6. Casey Martin, Richmond, junior: Richmond co-coach Brandon Day said Martin may be the best wrestler in the state to not have an all-state finish.

It's hard to argue against that.

Martin looked well on his way to a high finish a year ago before suffering a knee injury. This year, he started with a bang, pinning a three-time state champion in his first tournament.

7. Austin Pickering, Port Huron Northern, junior: Last year, Pickering began living up to the hype surrounding him coming into high school, which can be hard for kids to shoulder.

This year, he seems to be building on that, and don't be surprised if an all-state finish isn't far off.

8. Steve Lams, Yale, senior: A good heavyweight can be hard to find, especially at smaller schools, but not in Yale, where Lams is among the state's best in Division 3.

He was a match away from placing at state last year, losing in the consolation second round by two points.

9. Preston Treend, Richmond, senior: Treend made a statement in the summer, winning the black hat at the 14-day J Robinson camp.

He's continuing to make a statement this season with his performance on the mat, which has earned him a top-10 ranking in his weight class.

10. Spencer Olson, Port Huron Northern, senior: I had some conversations with Olson in the offseason and could tell he has great passion for the sport.

Olson is determined to make it to the state meet, and I wouldn't bet against him.

11. Justin Russo, Richmond, junior: Russo has wrestled two of the top wrestlers in his weight class in Division 3 and has taken them to the limit. He had a great offseason and should be a force in the postseason as he looks to do more than just qualify for the state tournament, as he did last year.

12. Brian Kulman, Capac, senior: Kulman has been a staple in the middle of Capac's lineup for years, and he seems to be doing a good job building off last year's success, when he advanced to the state tournament.

13. Dakota Boldrey, Richmond, junior: Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the young season has been the performance by Boldrey. He only has lost once, and that came against nationally ranked Jackson Morse of Lowell.

14. Mike Tyranski, Yale, senior: Tyranski has been one of the area's top wrestlers in the upper weights for a few years. He's starting to get some love at the state level, too, as he's ranked fourth in Division 3 at 189.

15. Dominic Cattera, Richmond, senior: Quietly, Cattera has become one of the top wrestlers in the area and is climbing up the list of contenders in the state. He's ranked fourth in Division 3 at 112 pounds, right behind his teammate, Casey Martin.

16. Adrian Morang, Richmond, sophomore: Look for Morang to be somebody who ends up shooting up this list eventually. He's undefeated (17-0) and has made tremendous strides from a year ago.

17. Nate Henke, Richmond, freshman: How's this for high expectations? Not only is Henke the younger brother of this list's No. 1, but he also was ranked before he wrestled a varsity match. He has lived up to it all and has yet to lose.

18. Chad Hughes, Port Huron Northern, senior: Like a lot of wrestlers on this list, Hughes' early losses have come to wrestlers who are highly thought of throughout the state. He made a nice impression at the Macomb County Tournament, where he took third.

19. Drew Saunders, Marysville, senior: Moving up to 171 pounds doesn't seem to have negatively affected Saunders, who made a nice run at Macomb, finishing third. Marysville will count on him for wins in most duals this season.

20. Tom Ray, Capac, sophomore: Remember what I said about it being hard to find a heavyweight at smaller schools? Well, not at Capac. Ray is 16-1 and is another in a nice string of upper-weight wrestlers for the Chiefs.

21. Josh Ramos, Port Huron High, senior:Ramos has done some really good things for the Big Reds. He should contend for a spot at the state tournament this year, although being a Division 1 middleweight isn't the easiest road to travel.

22. Ed Niemi, Capac, senior: Niemi has caught the eye of some people on the state level, as he is ranked No. 9 in Division 3 at 189 pounds. That's pretty impressive for a 171-pounder.

23. Greg Sebastian, Richmond, sophomore: If Richmond wins a state title this year, Sebastian could be the key. His improvement has given the Blue Devils a real force in the upper weights and a nice balance to the ridiculous depth they have down low.

24. Grant Hafner, Richmond, senior: How's this for depth? Hafner has spent most of the season on Richmond's B team, yet racked up a 21-2 record against varsity competition and placed second at Macomb, losing 4-2 to Sebring.

25. Gideon Gaiter, Capac, sophomore: Gaiter turned some heads in his freshman season, and he's proving it wasn't a fluke, as he has 17 wins this year.

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