March 9, 2011 —
By Bill Mullaly
The Hudson High School wrestling team had an almost unheard of performance last weekend at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Tigers sent 10 wrestlers to The Palace and all ten placed in the medal rounds. This is unofficially the first time in school history that Hudson has placed double digit wrestlers at the finals. And there were no throw-in eighth placers either. The Tigers had one champion-Joel Varney, three runner-ups, a third, a fourth, two sixth places and two seventh placers. All in all it is believed to be the first time in Division 4 history for any school to place all ten kids in the finals. If not the only time it is one of the few times that this has ever happened and never before have the Tigers placed all ten wrestlers but they did last weekend. Here is a look at how the “Ten Terrific Tigers” did at The Palace.
• For junior Joel Varney it all began with an injury default by a foe from Martin. In the the quarterfinal match he won 12-6 over a rival from White Pigeon. In the semifinal he won with a fall in 4:26 over a Mio foe. This put him in the finals against a wrestler from Manchester. Varney defeated Johnny Woollams 7-5 to pick up his individual championship at 145 pounds. Varney ends the season at 55-11. He won the big five this winter taking county, league, district and regional titles along with the state championship. In the last two years the junior is 109-25. He was third a season ago at 145 pounds and remarkably came back at the same weight class to win a title.
“It was an awesome feeling to win it all,” said Varney, who is also a star football player. “I was third last year and was committed to winning it all this time. It is very special and I was hoping to be able to share this feeling with some of my teammates. I had quite a tough match but I knew I could beat this opponent from Manchester as I had pinned him two weeks ago. This time it was a lot tougher but I got the job done.” When asked to explain the difference between a team and individual crown he responded. “It is different but both are very special. It was very cool to win both in back-to-back Saturdays.” Congratulations Joel!
• It was a crushing defeat for senior 189-pounder Matthew Smith in the championship round. Like Varney, Smith was back to defend his title at the same weight but unlike Varney was not able to do that feat. Smith won easily in his first two matches taking an opening pin in only 43 seconds against a foe from Cassopolis. Then in the quarters he won in a fall in just 21 seconds over a rival from Hesperia. In the semis the domination continued with a major decision of 14-0 over a foe from Sand Creek. This put Smith one win from repeating but the repeat was not to be. He was pinned in period three with just 39 seconds left as he went down to a grappler from St. Ignace. The Tiger standout had the lead in period three and appeared in control but something went awry and he was the victim of an usual ending. Smith wound up the season at 60-3 for a great year. He was third as a sophomore at 215 pounds and a champion as a junior. Over the past three seasons Smith was 162-13. Great career Matthew!
• For junior Devan Marry it was his first defeat at The Palace in 12 tries. He was 4-0 and state champion the past two years and was going for the hat-trick of three titles but a rival from Sand Creek had other ideas. Sam Mehan edged Marry in the final bout at 160 pounds taking a 7-5 win. Marry is now 11-1 all-time at The Palace. He ended the year at 62-4. Last year he was 59-4. For his three-year run as a Tiger he is now 179-14. He started the state finals meet with a fall in 2:54 over a Mio foe. Next, he won 9-4 over a kid from Eau Claire and in the semis he beat a rival from Hesperia with a fall in 5:25. He was not as fortunate against Mehan in the final match. Two out of three ain’t bad. Wonderful work Devan!
• For freshman phenom Cole Weaver it was a one point that separted him from a championship. Weaver lost his final match of the tourney with a 4-3 setback at 112 pounds. He began the tourney with a fall in 1:10 over a foe from Grandville-Calvin Christian. Then in the quarterfinals he won 4-0 over a rival from Iron Mountain. In the semis he bested a tough wrestler from New Lothrop 5-0 that put him at 60-6 on the season. Win number 61 would be an elusive one as he fell by a narrow margin to a wrestler from Decatur in the championship match. With 60 wins in his first year he is on pace for some huge numbers in his Tiger career. Fabulous freshman season Cole!
One third, one fourth
• The job of senior Camden McCaskey was impressive. He placed third overall at 135 pounds by winning his first two matches, then dropping one in the semis before bouncing back with two more wins. He started with an 11-5 win and then gained a fall in period three before falling 5-2 to a foe from Athens. In the consolation bracket he won 6-1 over a rival from Iron Mountain. Then for third place he defeated a foe from Kent City 12-5. McCaskey ends the year at 52-16. Superb senior season Camden!
• For junior James Herron his first journey to The Palace was a very good one. He ended up fourth and along the way hit the 50-win mark. He started with a 14-0 win but then lost 4-0 in the quarters. He went to the consolation bracet and found some success. He won three more matches to take fourth. He won 16-7, then 6-1 and then won 5-3. For third place he fell 10-0 but was 4-2 for the weekend to close out the year at 52-20. Real fine job James!
Two take sixth
• Senior Tyler Mattison started with a win 4-1 but lost to a Hesperia rival 6-1. He went to the consols where he won 11-3 and won 13-5 before falling 5-0. He wasn’t done yet as then for fifth place he fell 3-1. He ended the meet at 3-3 for sixth place. For the season he was 51-19 and for the last two years he was 98-32. Very good senior season Tyler!
• For rookie Isaac Dusseau he also was a sixth place finisher. He began with an injury default win and then won 7-0 in the quarters. He then fell 5-2 in the semis to a rival from Hesepria before falling 6-4 to a Comet wrestler from Jonesville. For fifth place he was a victim of a technical fall to end the meet at 2-3 and for the season he ended up 52-13. Nice first year Isaac!
Two place seventh
• For senior standout Grant Benschoter it was his first foray into the state finals meet at The Palace. He won the opening match 16-0 before falling 4-2 but in the consolation round he got a pin in period two. Next, he lost to a rival from Blissfield 11-5 before taking a win 13-4 in the bout for seventh place. He ended the meet at 3-2 and for the year he was 49-11. Real good senior season Grant!
• For the final Tiger placer it was sophomore standout Zach Rieger. He started with a fall at 285 over a foe from Marlette but then lost a hard-fought 2-1 decision to the stud Cody Wolever from Hesperia. Then he beat big tough Dylan Neff of Manchester 3-2 for a great revenge win. Next, he went down as he was pinned but Rieger battled back. In his final match he blew away huge Cory Girdley, an offensive lineman from Mendon, just like Rieger blew him off the ball last Novmeber at Thompson Field. Girdley was pinned in 4:58 and Rieger got seventh. He ended the year at 55-10. Very fine work Zach!
Thus, ends another great season of Tiger wrestling with ten coming home from The Palace with medals and all-state finishes. It had never been done before and was something special to see in 2011!