No. 8 St. Johns, No. 14 DCC set to battle on Friday

Immediately preceding the University of Michigan Wolverines' dual meet against the University of Iowa on Friday night, one could catch the two top high school programs in the state of Michigan take to the mat at Cliff Keen Arena in Ann Arbor when No. 8 St. Johns does battle with No. 14 Detroit Catholic Central at 4 p.m. These two squads did compete in a dual meet on December 15th, with the squads splitting matches seven apiece in a 33-31 upset victory for the Shamrocks.

Zac Hall (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
Come Friday night, the lineup dynamics are likely to be different, in particular for St. Johns who has slid their key wrestlers all down a weight class since the mid-December contest at Holland High School. However, the Redwings will likely be without Ben Whitford, who is ranked No. 1 in the nation at 145 pounds. On the plus side for Detroit Catholic Central is that Ken Bade -- ranked No. 13 at 126 pounds nationally -- will be able to compete on Friday night, he was out in that dual meet creating a lineup void at 135 pounds.

The following are projected possible lineups for the two squads on Friday afternoon.

103: Ian Parker (St. Johns) vs. Tommy Herrmann (Detroit Catholic Central): Parker, just a freshman, is ranked fourth across all classifications per Michigan Grappler at this weight class; while the sophomore Herrmann is arguably the weakest link in the Shamrocks' lineup.

112: Dillon Cornell/Derek Droste vs. Zack Prater/Parker O'Brien: the 112 and 119 combo of Cornell and Droste represents the crater within the Redwings lineup; Prater is ranked No. 10 in Division 1 per Michigan Grappler.

119: Cornell/Droste vs. Trevor Zdebski: For the Shamrocks, returning state placer Zdebski -- who ranks No. 5 across divisions in this weight class -- must capitalize on this weak spot in the St. Johns lineup.

125: No. 5 Zac Hall vs. Evan Toth: Two-time state champion Hall is just a junior, and was a Junior freestyle runner-up this past summer, while Toth qualified for state in 2011 and is ranked No. 9 in Division 1 at the present time.

130: No. 6 Jacob Schmitt vs. No. 13 (at 126) Ken Bade/Myles Amine: Whether it's Bade or Amine for the Shamrocks, two-time state champion Schmitt is the probable favorite in this match; however, if it's two-time state champion Bade, he can pull off the mild upset, as he did so in last year's dual meet between the teams. The sophomore Amine qualified for state last year and is No. 10 across divisions in this weight class.

135: No. 7 (at 138) Logan Massa/Mark Bozzo vs. Bade/Myles Amine: The St. Johns strategy in this match will probably depend on what the Shamrocks do at 130 pounds, and how the dual meet is flowing at the time. If Myles Amine goes 130, it's almost assured St. Johns puts out sophomore star Logan Massa; however, if Bade goes 130, one could see the junior Bozzo, who ranks No. 6 in Division 2 at this weight class.

140: Massa/Bozzo vs. Malik Amine: Malik Amine is a two-time state placer for Detroit Catholic Central, and was a state runner-up last year, and is ranked No. 4 across divisions in this weight.

145: Drew Wixson/Josh Pennell vs. Chris Naubert: Yet again, St. Johns has flexibility depending on how this dual meet is going. Wixson is a sophomore for St. Johns, and Naubert is a senior for the Shamrocks.

152: Wixson/Pennell/Brant Schafer vs. Mike Babicz: The senior Pennell was runner-up at state as a freshman, and has finished third each of the last two years; at present, he is ranked No. 2 at 145 across divisions to Whitford. For Detroit Catholic Central, the senior Babicz qualified for state in 2011.

160: Pennell/Schafer vs. Logan Marcicki: The Indiana-bound Schafer is a three-time state placer and was a state champion last year. The 2011 Junior freestyle All-American is ranked No. 3 across divisions at 152. For the Shamrocks, having 2011 state champion Marcicki in the lineup is a must if they hope to win. This is a concern, as the state's top-ranked 160 pound wrestler was unable to compete this past Saturday after the first dual meet.

171: Angus Arthur vs. No. 18 Andrew Garcia: When the two teams met in December, these top two wrestlers statewide at 171 pounds competed to a 3-1 decision result in favor of defending state champion Garcia. Arthur was a Cadet double All-American this past summer, while Garcia did the same in 2011.

189: No. 11 (at 195) Payne Hayden vs. Nick Giese: In the December dual meet, it was the three-time state placer Hayden coming up with a 12-4 major decision victory against the sophomore Giese. Hayden is ranked tops at this weight class across divisions, while Giese is fifth in Division 1.

215: Blake Cooper vs. Jay Peterson: The December dual meet resulted in a pin for Peterson, who is ranked ninth in Division 1. His opponent, Cooper, is ranked seventh in Division 2.

285: Ben Proctor vs. Robert Coe: The December dual meet resulted in a pin for the senior Coe, a returning state placer who was third at the Super 32 Challenge. Coe currently ranks fifth across divisions at the weight class, while fellow senior Proctor is unranked within Division 2.

Even with Whitford likely out of the lineup, the path to victory for St. Johns is a clearer one to pave, as they have more high-level wrestlers. However, there is hope for the Shamrocks, as they come in with the confidence of last month's dual meet victory.


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