photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com
by – MI Grappler
It is the 9th year of the Grappler Fall Classic with the largest field in event history featuring over 1000 wrestlers coming from 17 different states as well as Canada to #GETSOME.
The event goes down on Saturday, starting at 8:00am in East Lansing, Michigan on the campus of Michigan State University’s Jenison Fieldhouse. The highlight of the tournament is definitely High School Elite Division, which features 160+ all-state wrestlers from across the country including 15 wrestlers currently ranked nationally in their weight class by FloWrestling and/or TheOpenMat.Top 10 nationally ranked wrestlers to watch include #1 ranked Alex Facundo of Davison, MI fresh off his impressive win at FloWrestling’s Whos #1 event last weekend. Facundo is the #1 pound for pound sophomore in the country and a returning GFC Champion.#3 ranked Purdue commit Travis Ford-Melton of Illinois, #4 ranked Nebraska commit Kevon Davenport of Michigan, #8 ranked Fargo Champ Josh Edmond of Michigan, and #13 ranked returning GFC Champ Nic Bouzakis of Florida are other big names to watch this weekend in East Lansing.
ELITE DIVISION WEIGHT-BY-WEIGHT PREVIEW
Wrestlers to Watch – Carson Laughery (Texas), Sam Goin (Indiana), Dylan Gilcher (Michigan)
Breakdown – The lightest weight offers an early look at up and coming talent. Laughery, a returning 106lb state qualifier in Texas, is the only entry with major high school accolades but Goin, Gilcher, and others come in with some major youth accomplishments on their resume.
State Champions – Sean Spidle (Michigan), Danny Nini (Florida)
Others to Watch – Casey Swiderski (Michigan), Stephen Roberson (Illinois), Kamariyon Nelson (Indiana), Nolan Gessler (Ohio), Kai Owen (Florida)
Breakdown – Spidle is a 2x state champ, most recently up at 112 last year, so he has to be the favorite. However, guys like Swiderski, Roberson, Gessler, Luna, and Owen come in with major national wins under their belt. Swiderski and Owen were freestyle All-Americans in Fargo last year. Gessler from St Paris Graham is a former GFC Middle School Champ, and Ninni is a Florida State champ pre-seeded 8th in this deep weight.
State Champions – Riley Bettich (Indiana), Blake Jackson (Nebraska), Trey Bates (Tennessee), Chase Ayers (Florida)
Others to Watch – Brenden Ferretti (Michigan), Ashton Anderson (Michigan), Joe Haynes (Michigan), Pacey Najdusak (Ohio)
Breakdown – Bettich and Ferretti have made GFC finals appearance in the past and look to win a title this time around. Bates was extremely impressive in Tennessee last year going undefeated en route to a state title. Jackson was 4th at the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals last year, and this weight has good depth with 12 returning all-staters in all.
State Champions – Nic Bouzakis (Florida), Corey Gamet (Michigan), Connor Williams (Florida)
Others to Watch – Tristan Lujan (California), Jayden Gomez (California), Jake Wolhtman (Florida), Andrew Hughes (Michigan), Jaekus Hines (Florida), Charles Huffman (Florida)
Breakdown – Bouzakis and Gamet are both nationally ranked and the class of this weight. Bouzakis won this tournament last year and is a fun young guy to watch while Gamet, a former Fargo Freestyle Champ, just committed to North Dakota State. Lujan and Gomez are both top 5 in the state in California while Wolhtman, Hines, Huffman, and Williams are all state finalists in the Sunshine State. Hughes has been top 4 in Michigan’s big school division twice. 17 total all-staters to be aware of this weight class!
State Champions – Thomas Deck (Kentucky), Noah Gochberg (Texas), Ethan Turner (Ohio), TJ Daugherty (Michigan)
Others to Watch – Travis Ford-Melton (Illinois), Jesse Mendez (Indiana), Brayden Littell (Indiana), Jake Canitano (Ohio), Jordan Strimska (Texas), Logan Heil (Ohio)
Breakdown – This weight is extremely deep with over 20 returning all-state guys. Ford-Melton is the biggest name, ranked #3 in the country, and a recent Purdue commit. Mendez is one of the best incoming freshman in the country and one to keep an eye on. Littell and Gochberg have both placed in Cadet Freestyle in Fargo and Ohio state placers Canitano and Heil are not to be forgotten.
State Champions – Bretli Reyna (Florida), Jordan Hamdan (Michigan), Brayden Palmer (Tennessee), Chris Rivera (Florida), Noah Horst (Tennessee), Vincent Mannella (Georgia)
Others to watch – Henry Porter (California), Logan Bailey (Indiana), Sammy Spencer (Illinois), Josh Barr (Michigan)
Breakdown – One of the marquee weights in the tournament with 6 state champs including 3x champ Hamdan and 2x champs Reyna, Horst, and Mannella. Reyna, #17 in the country, is the only currently ranked nationally, however many others right on the outside looking in and ready to break into the top 20. Porter and Bailey were 2nd and 3rd in the state in the always tough one-division formats of California and Indiana state tournaments. 7 guys in this weight who’ve placed in Fargo or NHSCA Nationals in their career, Josh Barr is one of the best 8th graders in the country so keep an eye on him, and Sammy Spencer was 5th in IL last year and took 3rd at the Dvorak.
State Champions – Malyke Hines (Florida), Frankie Tal-Shahar (Florida), Josh Edmond (Michigan), Justin Rivera (Florida)
Others to watch – Shannon Hanna (Florida), Kyle Kantola (Michigan), Jared Riggins (Michigan), Matt Gimson (Indiana), Dom Lomazzo (Michigan)
Breakdown – The toughest weight in terms of national rankings with 3 Top 16 guys on the bracket. Edmond is #8 nationally after a very impressive run in Fargo winning the Cadet Freestyle title with relative ease. Hines is a returning champ and Lehigh commit along with nationally ranked Florida champs Tal-Shahar and Rivera. Tal-Shahar was a UWW Cadet Freestyle Runner-Up last spring. Kantola, Riggins, Hanna, and Hernandez are all state finalists, and Lomazzo is a very accomplished sophomore from Detroit Catholic Central. 22 returning state medallists in this weight!
State Champions – Cayden Rooks (Indiana), Skyler Crespo (Michigan)
Others to Watch – Chase Saldate (California), Noah Castillo (Florida), Alex Martin (Ohio), Gentry Deck (Kentucky), Chase Warden (Texas)
Breakdown – Only 2 state champs here is deceiving as Saldate and Castillo are both ranked nationally with some major national accomplishments. Crespo is a 2x champ from Michigan and Deck is a returning GFC Champ. Martin is another work-horse stud from St Paris Graham who was state runner-up as a freshman and placed at the Ironman and Warden was a double All-American in Fargo.
State Champions – James Whitaker (Michigan), Derek Gilcher (Michigan)
Others to Watch – Manzona Bryant (Indiana), Avry Mutschler (Michigan), Ben Durocher (Wisconsin), Matthew Grant (Michigan), Micah Wiginton (Texas), Aaron Lofton (Texas)
Breakdown – Whitaker exploded nationally last year as a junior, starting with this tournament where he won the GFC 140lb title. He went on to place at Super 32 and won FloNationals and is now ranked #15 in the country and committed to the University of Virginia. Gilcher was impressive last year winning the big school division state title in Michigan and Mutschler, committed to Kent State, has been good throughout his career with Folkstyle Nationals and FloNational All-American honors on his resume. Bryant is a phenom in Indiana placing as a freshman and sophomore and will be one to watch in this weight for sure. Wigington and Lofton are state finalist Texans to watch here as well as Grant, a Michigan, state runner-up.
State Champions – Kevon Davenport (Michigan), Austin Wolford (Michigan)
Others to watch – Bailey Flanagan (Florida), Caleb Fish (Michigan), Victor Schoenner (Michigan), Kevin Contos (Ohio), Noah Ewen (Ohio), Manny Rojas (Michigan), Daniel Vizcarra (California), Christian Killion (Michigan), Darian Estevez (Florida)
Breakdown – Davenport is the heavy favorite – he is 3x state champ ranked 4th nationally committed to Nebraska who has done it all nationally including a GFC title here two years ago. The rest of the field is deep with 16 other state placers from various states. Flanagan, Vizcarra, Ewen, and Rojas have placed at Fargo or NHSCAs. Fish, Estevez, Killion, and Schoenherr were all state finalists last year.
State Champions – Alex Facundo (Michigan), Nick South (Indiana), Alec Rees (Michigan)
Others to Watch – Ben Pasiuk (Ohio), Jack Chesman (New York), Kyle Mosher (New York), Elliot Rodgers (Indiana), David Ferrante (Illinois), Nathan Villareal (California)
Breakdown – Facundo is as hot as anyone in the country right now after taking the #1 ranking at this weight over last weekend at Whos Number 1. He will be tested though with Indiana State Champ South, Michigan champ Rees, and NHSCA All-Americans Chesman, Mosher, and Villareal to name a few. Rodgers is a state runner-up in one-division Indiana and Ferrante was 3rd in Cadet Freestyle in Fargo two summers ago. The tournament pre-seeds have at least 5 un-seeded state placers getting drawn in, so a fun bracket to watch from the beginning.
State Champions – Kai Bele (Florida), Alex Cramer (Illinois), Ashton Habeil (Florida)
Others to Watch – River Shettler (Michigan), Gabe Martinez (California), Graham Calhoun (Indiana), Aiden Cramer (Illinois), Colin Jagielski (Michigan), Jimmy Colley (Michigan)
Breakdown – Bele, Alex Cramer, and Martinez are all ranked nationally. Bele recently committed to NC State as a junior and Cramer is an Old Dominion commit, they are the favorites to meet in the finals but will have a very deep field of battle-tested hammers to get through. 2x FL champ Habeil was NHSCA runner-up last year, California runner-up Martinez is ranked nationally by TheOpenMat and Michigan runner-up Shettler knocked off Martinez over the summer. Some other nationally proven guys include NHSCA champ Calhoun, Cadet Greco Champ Aiden Cramer, Double Cadet All American Jagielski, and Cadet Folkstyle All American Colley. This is as deep a 171lb bracket as you will find amongst pre-season national tournaments.
State Champions – Logan Andrew (Florida), Ethan Weatherspoon (Michigan)
Others to Watch – Nick Benton (Florida), Cal Stefanko (Michigan), David Harper (Tennessee), Jose Valdez (Florida)
Breakdown – Andrew is the most proven, a returning state champ who placed here last year. Harper is one of the top P4P frosh in the country after placing in Fargo last summer he is a freak for his age, and this will be a good look at him against top-tier high school competition. Weatherspoon is an MI state champ looking to make a splash nationally here. Stefanko and Valdez are state finalists to watch, and Benton was 3rd in the state after 5th at GFC last year.
Wrestlers to Watch – Ryan Reyes (California), Brent Paulus (Ohio), Cody Goodman (Illinois), Honour Kline (Michigan), Taye Ghadiali (Michigan), Hunter McCall (Michigan)
Breakdown – Reyes comes in highly touted from California after placing 3rd in state and winning the Freshman and Sophomore NHSCA Nationals the last two years. Paulus has placed in Fargo in both styles and Goodman was also an NHSCA Sophomore champ last year. Ghadiali, Kline, and McCall round out the returning state placers in the weight.
Wrestlers to Watch – Nick Villareal (California), Blake Coffell (Michigan), Tyler DeLoof (Michigan), Alex Coleman (Ohio), Blake Querio (Michigan), Blake Wingate (Michigan), Brian Soto (Michigan)
Breakdown – While heavyweight is traditionally a smaller bracket, this weight has some proven big men vying for the title. Villareal was 6th in Cali last year and won the NHSCA Freshman Nationals – he is ranked nationally and the guy to beat. Coffell won this tournament last year and recently committed to Lake Erie. Deloof has performed well at many national events, and Coleman placed in both styles as a Cadet in Fargo including a Greco title. Wingate is a returning big school state runner-up in Michigan and Querio is also a Michigan state placer.