Catholic Central outlasts Walled Lake Central for sixth straight Oakland County titleWrestling  |
LAKE ORION — With a somewhat inexperienced team, Mitch Hancock wasn’t sure if his state-ranked Novi Detroit Catholic Central squad had enough to win the two-day Oakland County Wrestling Tournament marathon.
The eighth-year head coach found out that his young squad will again be a force to be reckoned with in 2014-15.
The defending state champion Shamrocks captured their sixth straight Oakland County title with 293.5 points, outlasting fellow state ranked teams Walled Lake Central (280) and Oxford (200) in a talented field of over 40 schools Friday-Saturday at Lake Orion High School.
Ortonville Brandon (193.5), White Lake Lakeland (166.5), Rochester Adams (157); Waterford Kettering (135), West Bloomfield (128.5), Birmingham Seaholm (122) and Lake Orion (121) rounded out the top 10.
“I have always said that Oakland County, from top to bottom, is the deepest county for wrestling talent in the entire state,” noted Hancock. “So winning this is important for us. It’s a great confidence builder for this team. We are somewhat inexperienced (in terms of starters) and I thought Walled Lake Central was the favorite going in. But we had some guys really step up. I think, by the end of the season, we are going to be a really difficult team to beat.”
Catholic Central had nine placers in the 14 weight classes en route to its team title, its record-tying sixth straight. Clarkston and Hazel Park have also won six in a row in the 55th annual event, with Clarkston last doing so from 2001-2006.
It was the highest finish for Walled Lake Central in nearly two decades, as the Vikings had 12 placers overall this season. Walled Lake Central won the tournament 18 years ago in 1996 and has only resurfaced as one of the county’s top 10 teams.
“I am happy with (placing high) at a tournament like this, but not satisfied,” offered Walled Lake Central coach Al Freeman, who has guided his team from being outside of the top 10 three years ago to a runner up finish this season. “We came in her thinning we can win it all. Finishing second is still a great accomplishment. Catholic Central was just a little better than us this time. They have a great program.”
Malik Amine (160), Nick Giese (189), Aaron Rehfeldt (112), and Trevor Zdebski (135) all won four titles for the champion Shamrocks.
“Our senior class does not like to lose,” end of the season,” said Zdebski, who won his third Oakland County title in four years. “We have never lost this tournament as a team since we have been here and we have some talented young guys that had something to prove. We came together (at the right time).”
Rochester Stoney Creek’s Andrew Price captured the title at 171, moving to 14-0 on the season.
“This is a great start, but It’s always about peaking at the end of the season,” said Price. "A lot of guys come here and win and then go on and win a state championship. Other guys do well here and then not place at the state meet. You have to keep it going.”
Oxford’s Wyatt Hardin (215) was a state qualifier last season, but often times in dual meets was a reserve. Now as a full-time starter at 171, the junior has something to prove. Teammate Alex Hrisopoulous (130) also captured a title for Oxford.
“Last year I didn’t wrestle here at the county. I did qualify as an individual for state meet and now I have my chance this year as a regular (starter),” said Hardin. “I want to get back to the state finals this year and win it all. This is the first step. Winning a tournament this big will give me some confidence going into the rest of the season.”
Other winners on the day included Lakeland’s Nolan Klapek (103), Farmington Harrison’s Michael Volyanyuk (119), Walled Lake Central’s Brett Freeman (125), West Bloomfield’s Matt Gudenau (140), Waterford Kettering’s Timmy Hagelin (145), Milford’s Brandon Krol (285) and Clarkston’s Nick Vandermeer (152).
For Vandemeer, the fourth brother to wrestle for Clarkston over the past two decades, he became the second sibling to win a title for the Wolves.
“All of my brothers have placed here several times,,” said the youngest Vandmeer. “It feels great to win here. My ultimate goal is to win a state championship. I have worked very hard since last year to get to where I am right now. I have a long ways to go, but hope this will give me some confidence later in the season that I can compete with the best in the state.”
55TH ANNUAL OAKLAND COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIPS
(Dec. 19-20 at Lake Orion H.S.)
TEAM SCORES — 1. Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 293.5; 2. Walled Lake Central, 280; 3. Oxford, 200; 4. Ortonville Brandon, 193.5; 5. White Lake Lakeland,166.5; 6. Rochester Adams, 157.0; 7. Waterford Kettering, 135; 8. West Bloomfield, 128