Clockwise from bottom are Ken Bade (Catholic Central), Malik Amine (Catholic Central), Nick Vandermeer (Clarkston), Robert Coe (Catholic Central), Shwan Shadaia (Rochester) and Drew Garcia (Catholic Central). (The Oakland Press/VAUGHN GURGANIAN)
WRESTLING: State champs lead All-Oakland County team
While hundreds of wrestlers around the state sought the elusive individual state championship, there was only room for one at the top of the heap in each weight class.
Withstanding strong opposition from all points, six wrestlers from Oakland County made it to the mountaintop to secure the ultimate prize as they led the All-Oakland County wrestling team in another season of high-caliber performances.
On the team front, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, under coach Mitch Hancock, won its second straight Division 1 state title in dramatic fashion with Evan Toth’s victory in the final match, while Rochester’s Frank Lafferty achieved Coach of the Year honors as the Falcons reached the team state tournament for the first time in school history.
Here’s a look at the area’s individual state champions and the All-Oakland County first team.
Ken Bade, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Senior — Had Bade, a calculating technician with a drive to win, not been injured a portion of his senior season, he’d probably have more than 200 career victories. But his 40-7 record against a brutal schedule of opponents is still impressive. “He’s very aggressive (and) he trains extremely hard,” coach Mitch Hancock said. “He gives it his all at practice every day.”
Bade, who will wrestle for Pennsylvania next season, notched more than 50 victories each of his first three seasons and ended with 195 career victories. He lost only once in 2012 and had only four losses as a sophomore. Most notable is his three consecutive state championships, the latter ending with a 4-3 overtime decision over Davison’s Matt Miller in the Division 1 135-pound class finals. He placed third at state in the 103-pound class as a freshman, and won state titles at 119 and 125, ending his high school career with four all-state performances, and multiple Oakland County, district and regional championships.
Nick Vandermeer, Clarkston, Senior — Some wrestlers are good on their feet, and some are good on the mat. Vandermeer’s trump card was the latter, where he brought a funky style which, as one coach termed, was like wrestling with rattlesnakes.
“He had one of the toughest weight classes in the state tournament and he traveled right through it,” Clarkston coach Derek Moscovic said of his 152-pounder. “He went through the gauntlet and came out on top.”
Vandermeer ended with a 44-5 record, which included some tough losses, such as one to Oxford’s Rocco Borg in the OAA Red/White championship finals. But more often than not, he came up big when it counted. He escaped with a 9-7 overtime victory in the semifinals at state before handing Jordan Atienza of Livonia Franklin his first loss of the season, pinning him in 4:23 to claim the state title.
Vandermeer also upset defending state champ Aaron Calderon of Brighton in overtime to win a district title. He was third in regionals and was Oakland County runnerup.
Shwan Shadaia, Rochester, Junior — Shadaia broke out with dominating performances this season, winning all but one match (54-1). That loss, when he wrestled up a weight class, was to 215-pound division state champ Brandon Sunday of Temperance Bedford. All the rest, he took care of with his commanding style. “He’s one of those guys who refuses to lose,” Rochester coach Frank Lafferty said. “He’s got those intangibles that you can’t teach.”
The sturdy 189-pounder won OAA League, district, regional and Oakland County titles as he used his strength and style to edge Clarkston’s Chris Calvano in the state finals by a 4-3 margin in one of his toughest matches of the season. “He’s one of the hardest working kids in the room (and) nicest kids in the room,” Lafferty said. “Shwan’s a great football player, too.”
And student, carrying a 3.5 grade point average in mostly advanced placement classes.
Drew Garcia, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Junior — Garcia netted his second straight state championship as opponents are finding him increasingly harder to beat. “He’s just extremely talented, gifted and very goal-oriented,” Hancock said, “and I think that helps him a lot.”
Wrestling a tough schedule, including some of the top schools in the nation, Garcia went unscathed. The savvy 171-pounder won Oakland County, regional and district tournaments before opening the state tournament with a 41-second pin. He won a 13-5 major decision over Davison’s Tyler Widmo in the semifinals, which vaulted him into the finals, where he beat Hartland’s Mitchell Thomas, who entered the state tournament with a 56-1 record, by an 8-2 margin. Garcia wound up with a 52-0 record.
Malik Amine, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Junior — With a state title as his goal, Amine did not allow any of his opponents to thwart his objective. With his 15-0 technical decision in his state tourney opener, he followed with victories through state competition which proved his ability. “I’ve always said about Malik, he hates losing more than anybody,” Hanock said. “He’s very competitive.”
His closest margin of triumph was a 7-3 decision over Rochester’s Kaelan Richards, a four-time all-stater, in the 140-pound semifinals. He then beat New Baltimore Anchor Bay’s Eric Rybarz 11-6 in the finals. Rybarz and Richards had a combined record of 110-6. But Amine, accustomed to wrestling high-caliber opponents, was ready for anything the state could offer. His 40-6 record included district and regional titles.
Robert Coe, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Senior — Coe continued the Shamrocks’ tradition of championship wrestlers at the top of the weight scale. “He started as a sophomore ... stepped in and helped us,” said Hancock of Coe’s relative inexperience. The senior heavyweight, who came in at a svelte 235 pounds, was some 20 pounds lighter than last year. Still, he was even more effective, displaying more mobility, endurance and confidence. If the third period rolled around and he was still on the mat, Coe would almost always put his opponent away. “He’s very analytical and very smart,” said Hancock of Coe, who has a 3.8 GPA, “(and) he’s a very good mat wrestler both top and bottom.” Coe, with a 45-4 record, won district, regional and Oakland County titles before pinning a pair of foes during the state tournament, and winding up with a 3-0 decision over Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central’s Parker Tillman, in the state finals.
Mike Volyanyuk, Farmington Harrison, Sophomore — Reached the Division 1 state finals in the 103-pound class after beating Oxford’s Alex Hrisopoulos in the semifinals. A district champ who was regional and OAA Red/White meet runnerup, Volyanyuk placed third at Oakland County and had a 48-9 record.
Trevor Zdebski, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Sophomore — Lost a close decision to eventual state champ Shayne Wireman of Holt in the 119-pound quarterfinals, but battled back to finish third at state. An Oakland County champ, Zdebski was regional runnerup and district champion. Tallied a 41-7 record.
Mason Cleaver, Holly, Senior — Four-time state qualifier and four-time all-stater placed third at the Division 2 state meet after placing second last year. Lost in the quarterfinal round but bounced back with four straight victories, two by fall, to net third place and end his career with a 55-3 record and 207 career victories. Had third-place finishes in district and regional competitions, and also won Oakland County title.
Anthony Gonzales, Holly, Senior — Four time state qualifier, four-time all-stater placed sixth at Division 2 state meet after winning state title last year. Injury limited his ability in last weeks of this season. Was Oakland County champ at 140 and also was district and regional runnerup to eventual state champ Logan Massa of St. Johns. Finished with a 52-6 record.
Kaelan Richards, Rochester, Senior — A four-time state qualifier and four-time all-stater, Richards placed third at state for second straight year. Won district and regional titles and placed first at OAA Red/White meet. Finished with a 50-3 record and had more than 200 career victories.
Andrew Napieraj, Brother Rice, Sr. — Napieraj reached the finals in the 145-pound class and settled for second at Division 1 state meet. Was Oakland County and Catholic League champ and reached regional finals. Ended with a 50-3 record.
Rocco Borg, Oxford, Senior — Four-time state qualifier and four-time all-stater placed first at OAA Red/White meet at 152. Won district title at 145, and was third at Oakland County and third at regionals before placing third at the Division 1 state meet. Had a 51-3 record.
Chris Calvano, Clarkston, Sr. — Finished second at state in the 189-pound class by a point after winning Oakland County title. Won district and regional titles, and placed second at the OAA Red/White meet. Placed third at last year’s state meet. Finished with a 40-5 record.
Matt Okaiye, Waterford Kettering, Jr. — Finished third at state in 215-pound class after reaching Division 1 state semifinals. A two-time all-stater, Okaiye won district and regional titles and was Oakland County meet runnerup. Ended with a 49-4 record.
Logan Marcicki, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Junior — Marcicki reached the Division 1 state finals at 160 before settling for second place. Added district and regional titles along the way en route to a 35-6 record. Marcicki was a state champion as a freshman.
Myles Amine, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, Sophomore — A dependable force in the Shamrocks’ lineup, Amine was Oakland County, regional and district runnerup before placing third at state in the 130-pound class. Ended season with a 37-7 record against prime-time competition.
Dean Vettese, Rochester, Senior — A three-time all-stater, Vettese placed third at the Division 1 state meet for the second straight year. Won district, regional and OAA Red/White titles as a solid producer in the Falcons’ lineup.
Name School Class Weight
Andrew Price Stoney Creek Soph. 152
Manny Govantes Farmington Senior 125
Adam Myers Clarkston Senior 215
Shon Powell Brother Rice Junior 160
Ed Schlickenmeyer Oxford Junior 130
Evan Toth Cath. Central Junior 125
Andrew Gorman M.H. Lamphere Senior 112
Ross Bahro W. Bloomfield Junior 125
Nick Giese Cath. Central Soph. 189
Noah Hosking Milford Senior 285
Wesley Maskill Oxford Junior 152
Alex Hrisopoulos Oxford Freshman 103
Justin Kim Rochester Senior 112
Stephen Biebelhausen Rochester Adams Senior 119
BIRMINGHAM BROTHER RICE: Josiah Thomas; NOVI DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL: Parker O’Brien, Mike Babicz, Jimmy Russell; FARMINGTON HILLS HARRISON: LaRone Mack, Bobby Mathieson; LAKE ORION: Paul Scott; OXFORD: Daniel Curtis, Ben Line, Zach Wood; Rochester: Shane Shadaia, Josh Wood; Rochester Adams: Justin Schofield, Chris Mikhjian, Jack Addy; STONEY CREEK: Kyle Noonan, Jake Hazelton, Austin Denha; TROY ATHENS: Thomas Keyes, Jazz Hubbard; WALLED LAKE CENTRAL: Mitch Craig, Kaleb Marion, Daniel Shear; WALLED LAKE NORTHERN: Christian Lauderback; Walled Lake Western: Austin Murray; WATERFORD KETTERING: Brandon Conrad, Tommy Edwards; AUBURN HILLS AVONDALE: Grant Sharkey, Dillon Brancheau; FERNDALE: Eric Bird; HAZEL PARK: Keith Bucholtz; HOLLY: Andrew Scott, Sam Johnson, Colton Cleaver; MADISON HEIGHTS LAMPHERE: Evan Reich; ORTONVILLE BRANDON: Bryan Lavearn; SOUTHFIELD: Davion Williams, Delando Davis-Wright, Ken Daniels
Coach of the Year
Frank Lafferty, Rochester — In his 10th season as head coach at Rochester High, Frank Lafferty got the Falcons to the team state tournament for the first time in school history.
But it wasn’t easy. All season long, Lafferty wasn’t sure if he’d ever have his regular lineup available as illnesses and injuries wreaked havoc on the Falcons’ roster. Still, they persevered, taking their lumps along the way with an upgraded schedule of tough opponents and tournaments. Even so, Rochester was third at the Oakland County meet and second at the OAA Red/White tourney. Rochester finally got healthy the week of team districts, and fulfilled its potential.
On the way, Rochester won team district and regional titles, including beating adversary Oxford in the district finals to advance. Lafferty had been an assistant at Clarkston for 20 years and had coached at the junior high level. Rochester reached the state semifinals before bowing out in perhaps its best season in school history. The Falcons ended with a 25-12 record.