5. Tanner Culver, River Shettler and Kyle Kantola should dominate
The Hartland trio has a combined record of 95-4. Needless to say, these three are in for absolutely dominant days. Aside from teammate Corey Cavanaugh or Walled Lake Central’s reigning 2017 state champ at 103 pounds, TJ Daugherty, being moved up to compete in the same bracket — which is doubtful — there aren’t any big-time threats in their respective weight classes, or the surrounding ones for that matter. Walled Lake Central’s Liam Kinjorski (152) is the only wrestler with even an honorable mention ranking in the three weights.
4. The 125-pound bracket in Jackson may be the most challenging, and the most fun
As it stands, the 125-pound pool at districts in Jackson will feature four ranked or honorable mention wrestlers, including Brighton sophomore Eddie Homrock (No. 5) and junior Zach Johnson (HM), Grand Ledge junior Alex Kingsley (No. 10) and Lakeview junior and 2017 state title runner-up at 112, Bryce Brust (No. 7). That is the most ranked wrestlers in any class among Livingston County’s two D1 districts. None of those four have squared off against one of the others, so we really have no idea how it would play out.
3. Walled Lake Central’s TJ Daugherty vs. Hartland’s Corey Cavanaugh
If they don’t change weight classes, it’s almost certain that the two will end up facing each other for a district championships. Daugherty is the reigning state champ of the 103-pound bracket, which he won as a freshman. He is currently ranked No. 3 in the 119-pound class. He would draw Cavanaugh, who is ranked fifth and is truly one of the state’s most experienced juniors in the lightweight divisions. For Cavanaugh, this would be an excellent early-tournament test.
2. How will Brighton’s underclassmen perform in a high-stakes individual competition?
All season, Brighton’s underclassmen have performed beyond their years, especially in team competition. Although the Bulldogs “only” won two KLAA individual championships last Saturday, they had the most finalists of any school with eight — despite a few guys sitting out, including sixth-ranked 103-pound freshman Mason Shrader — which proves the Bulldogs are more than capable of stepping up in solo competition. Shrader — assuming he wrestles — along with sophomore Dane Donabedian (No. 3 at 140), sophomore Greyson Stevens (No. 8 at 189) and senior Nick Bleise (No. 6 at 145) figure to be the Bulldogs’ best bets at winning. That said, don’t count out Homrock (No. 5 at 125), Harley Berne (honorable mention at 160), Logan Kehres (unranked at 119) and Aiden Brown (unranked at 135). The Bulldogs got a decent district draw, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see them end up with more distinct champs than conference winners.
1. Predicting the sleepers
Based on the brackets, the for-sure winners should be Kantola, Culver, Shettler, Shrader, Donabedian, Bleise, Stevens, and probably Carter Hankins. A few others have tougher matchups, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them win, and those are Wyatt Nault, Cavanaugh, Homrock and Berne. However, what we’re most interested in here, is picking the sleepers. What unranked wrestler could sneak his way through his respective bracket and come out on top? Here’s our mini top-five list.
- 5) Reece Potter: A youth state champion, Potter has hardly shown much rust despite two years away from the sport. The Eagles’ midseason acquisition is 21-2 so far and just wrapped up a KLAA title. With that type of talent, he would be No. 1 on this list if he was going 171, but his coach said Tuesday night that he will be in the 160-pound class, meaning a likely bout with his teammate, River Shettler.
- 4) Keegan Merenuk: The Hartland 103-pounder was the surprise KLAA champion last week, although at 31-6 it can be argued it shouldn’t be considered one. Merenuk could meet West Bloomfield’s Austin Bashi (No. 7 at 103), who beat him, 6-1, earlier in the year.
- 3) Jack Ireton and 2) Aiden Brown: Ireton, Brighton’s 171-pounder, is 22-9 on the season and was the runner-up in his weight class at the KLAA meet. He is wrestling well lately, and there are no ranked opponents in his bracket. Same goes for Brown, who is 23-10, took second at KLAAs and isn’t likely to see anyone ranked at 135.
- 1) Logan Kehres: Brighton’s Kehres is one of the most underrated wrestlers in Livingston County. At 119, he may run into Lakeview’s Terry Vette (HM), but Kehres is more than capable of pulling out the victory. He hasn’t faced him, but has had tough matches, including a slim, 3-0, loss to Hartland’s Cavanaugh.