Local wrestlers place in individual state finals
By Christian Davis and Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Staff Writers
AUBURN HILLS — Here is a look at all the local C & G wrestlers who placed during the individual state finals March 1-3 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
• Justin Kim, Rochester High, sixth
• Connor McDill, Utica Eisenhower, seventh
• Doug Zundel, Roseville, fourth
• Patrick Salazar, Grosse Pointe North, seventh
• Ross Bahro, West Bloomfield High, eighth
• Immanuel Govantes, Farmington High, fourth
• Andrew Fialka, Farmington Hills Harrison, seventh
• Tevin Machart, Utica Ford II, sixth
• Kaelan Richards, Rochester, third
• Jake Johnson, Dakota, fourth
• Dean Vettese, Rochester, third
• Gideon Gaiter, L’Anse Creuse North, sixth
• Thomas Giradot, Birmingham Brother Rice, sixth
• Aaron Morgan, Rochester, eighth
• Shon Powell, Brother Rice, third
• Greg Dolland, Chippewa Valley, seventh
• Charlie Myers, Utica Eisenhower, second
• Cody DeVoe, Rochester, seventh
• Kevin Miller, North Farmington, fifth
• Charles Sovel, Walled Lake Central, sixth
• Schwan Shadaia, Rochester, seventh
• Serge Andreou, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, fourth
• Nick Gajdzik, Stoney Creek, first
• Andrew Gorman, Madison Heights Lamphere, third
• Hunter Mayer, Warren Woods Tower, sixth
• Bryan Jones, Warren Lincoln, seventh
• Cody Vanderhagen, Hazel Park High, fifth
• Jessie Smith, Warren Lincoln, seventh
• Chevez Farris, Ferndale High, second
• Brandon Schultes, Warren Woods Tower, seventh
• Josh White, Warren Woods Tower, seventh
• Brody Wagerson, Bloomfield Hills Andover, eighth
• Skip Conner, Madison Heights Lamphere, third
• Brenton Pippin, Madison Heights Bishop Foley, sixth
— Christian Davis and Jason Caramel Davis
AUBURN HILLS — Madison Heights Bishop Foley senior Brenton Pippin has a simple way to describe the individual wrestling state finals March 1-3, which brought together the best 16 wrestlers from all four divisions across the state.
In all, 34 local grapplers were top-eight finishers in the tourney, highlighted by Stoney Creek’s Nick Gajdzik title in the heavyweight division.
“It’s probably the greatest experience of my life,” the Royal Oak resident said. “I had so much fun. I made my coaches happy and my family happy.”
Pippin finished sixth at 189 pounds in Division 4, one of the countless grapplers from the C & G coverage area who found themselves on the podium.
For North Farmington senior Kevin Miller, wrestling at The Palace has been a goal all along, something he said was his focus from the first day of practice.
“It feels like years ago (since we started),” he said. “Even this weekend, it feels like a whole week of wrestling in three days. I enjoyed all of it.”
Last season, Miller just missed qualifying, but took fifth at 189 in D-1 this time around.
This was Bloomfield Hills Andover senior Brody Wagerson’s first time wrestling at The Palace, as well.
“It’s been awesome. It’s the greatest high school event in my opinion,” he said.
Wagerson placed eighth at 215 in D-2.
“I improved from last season, and that was the goal,” he said.
Madison Heights Lamphere senior heavyweight Skip Conner finished third in his weight class in his one and only trip to the state finals.
“It feels really good to get here and finish after losing in regionals last year. I could’ve pouted after I lost my second match, but I didn’t,” Conner said. “All the lights and people watching made me want to fight hard because everyone sees your mistakes, so I’m glad I was able to pull off third place.”
Warren Woods Tower senior 189-pounder Brandon Schultes fought his way to a seventh-place finish in his weight class.
The D-2 grappler placed at states for the first time.
“It feels good,” Schultes said. “I think I can do anything now, and that’s not just related to wrestling. Once you work at wrestling, everything else is easy.”
Utica Ford II sophomore 130-pound grappler Tevin Machart finished sixth in his class in D-1 said placing is an awesome feeling. He said he hopes to return to the field next year and plans to place higher.
“These are the best wrestlers in the state who make it here, so I know now I have to keep my focus in order to do better,” said Machart.
In finishing fourth in his weight class in D-1, Macomb Dakota 135-pound sophomore Jake Johnson had what he called a good ending to a season that didn’t start as well as he would have liked.
“I was able to fix the things I realized I was doing wrong in time for the postseason,” said Johnson, who also qualified for the state finals as a freshman but didn’t place. “It feels good to see the work pay off. It was tough last year to have to sit back and watch (and think), ‘Man, I’m so close.'”