Twenty-eight wrestlers from the West Michigan Conference earned bids in the individual state finals Friday and Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit.
Four of them – three boys and one girl – will be vying for state championships.
Whitehall’s Ira Jenkins, Hart’s Mason Cantu and Mason County Central’s Andrew Quinn will take their shot at winning the big prize Saturday, while Montague’s Emma Pendell will try to make history on the girls side.
The championship matches are slated to begin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. All matches will be livestreamed on MHSAA.tv at a cost of $10.99.
The top eight finishers in each weight class of the state finals earn all-state accolades.
For the first time ever, the Michigan High School Athletic Association is sanctioning girls wrestling, putting the boys and girls tournaments in the same state finals venue.
The finals returned to Ford Field this season after being split between Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids and Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo last year.
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Jenkins will be carrying the flag for Whitehall on Saturday as the lone finalist for the Vikings, who advanced seven wrestlers to Ford Field.
Jenkins is vying for his second-straight state championship and second unbeaten season in a row. He is now 181-11 in his career and 51-0 this season. He’ll tangle with fellow unbeaten Joshua Cook of Ferndale (52-0) in the 285-pound title match for Division 2. Jenkins is an all-stater for the fourth straight year.
Friday’s semifinal victory over Ortonville Brandon’s Gavin Leigh was Jenkins’ 150th career pin and required just 23 seconds. Jenkins recorded a first-round pin of Clio’s Ethan O’Kelly (3:50) and quarterfinals pin of Allen Park’s Brendon Peters (53 seconds).
Whitehall senior Max Brown (145), who captured a state title in Division 3 last season, lost in the semifinals but he is still in contention for a third-place finish. Junior Shane Cook (215) also is in the running for a third-place finish. Both wrestlers went 2-1 on the day Friday.
Freshman Wyatt Jenkins (160) was 1-2 on the day, while seniors Nick Blanchard (171), Alec Pruett (152) and Riley Buys (130) were 0-2.
Cantu (50-1) will be vying for his first state title as he takes on unbeaten, defending state champion Aiden Davis of Dundee (42-0) in the 145-pound championship match of Division 3.
Cantu, now a three-time all-stater, opened with a pin of Clinton’s Joey Preston (57 seconds) before he pulled out hard-fought decisions over Imlay City’s Anthony D’Ambrosio (4-3) and Williamston’s Camden Johnecheck (3-2).
Pirates senior Leo Guadarrama (215) is still in contention for a third-place finish after he went 2-1 on the day with his loss coming in the semifinals.
Juniors Trayce Tate (119) and Zane Thomas (160) both finished 0-2 on the day for Hart.
Pendell is in the running to become Montague’s first girls wrestling state champion. The sophomore will take on East Jackson’s Isabel Worthing in the 140-pound title match on Saturday.
On Friday, Pendell received a first-round bye, then she decisioned Standish Sterling Central’s Aliyah Schalk (5-0) and pinned Mayville’s Gabby Dinsmore (2:24).
Sophomore Savannah Winkleblack (110) is in contention for a third-place finish after making it to the semifinals and going 2-1 on the day. Sophomore Abby Thommen (125) and freshman Ava Pelton (155) both went 1-2 on the day, while senior Presley Davis (120) was 0-2.
On the boys side for the Wildcats, senior Cale Coppess (135) went 2-1 on the day and he’s still in contention for a third-place finish. He secured all-state status for the third straight year, but the bigger news is that he tied Matt Lipka for most career wins in Montague history with 169. He’ll have a chance to break that record on Saturday.
Junior Tristan Winkleblack (140) went 2-1 on the day, falling in the semifinals, but he earned his 100th career victory and he’s still in contention for a third-place finish. Sophomore Chris Aebig (119) went 0-2 on the day.
MASON COUNTY CENTRAL
Quinn has a shot to bring home a state title for the Spartans, as he carries a 50-1 record into Saturday’s 285-pound state final in Division 4 against New Lothrop’s Isiah Pasik (46-0).
On Friday, Quinn pinned Decatur’s Tanner Shugars (2:32) and Steed Scutt (29 seconds) before he earned a 5-3 decision over Reading’s Eathan Westfall in the semifinals.
Freshman Hunter Sanford (112) advanced to the semifinals but fell one win short of the finals and finished the day 2-1. He’ll still have a shot at a third-place finish. Sophomore Zane McCabe (125) went 1-2 on the day for the Spartans.
In the girls tournament, freshman Nyvaeh Wendt (105) went 0-2 on the day.
Senior Zeke Thompson (160) went 2-1 on the day in Division 4. He still has a shot at third place and an all-state finish.
Meanwhile, juniors Norman Slade (125) and Landen Goerbig (285) both finished 0-2 on the day.
Sophomore Nick Cano (103) finished 1-2 on the day Friday in Division 3 action. Junior teammate Travis Boughan (189) went 0-2.
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