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Jason Schmitt is the editor of, the high school sports website for The Oakland Press. He has served as the sports editor for a number of newspapers, including the Daily Tribune in Royal Oak and the Macomb Daily in Mount Clemens. In his time in the industry, he has covered every high school sport and has served a a beat writer for boys and girls soccer, boys and girls tennis, hockey, wrestling, bowling and cross country.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wrestling finals ... No. 1s should rule Battle Creek

Win two before you lose two. For every individual regional qualifier, those words mean the world. Win two matches before you lose two and you're moving on to the biggest wrestling spectacle in the country, the MHSAA Individual State Finals at The Palace on March 1.
I've covered a lot of high school events, state finals in hockey, tennis, bowling, baseball, softball, basketball and football. And, to me, nothing compares to this event. To see 896 of the state's best wrestlers entering The Palace to "We are the Champions" is awesome.
But that's a week away. First, we must decide which teams are the best of the best at this week's MHSAA Team Finals in Battle Creek.

Team states - who wins?
Oakland County's Catholic Central, Oxford and Holly punched their team tickets to this weekend's finals in Battle Creek. The brackets for the eight qualifying teams in each Division used to be predetermined heading into the tournament. But now the MHSAA seeds the teams. For Catholic Central, that means it's the top-seed for a second-straight year. The Shamrocks, ranked No. 1 all year long in Division 1, are the overwhelming favorite heading into this weekend's tournament.
A year ago, Oxford was the No. 2 seed and won its way into the final, where it upset top-ranked CC. This year the road to the final will be a bit more difficult for the Wildcats, who are the No. 6 seed and will face No. 3 Davison in Friday's quarterfinal round. CC will face No. 8 Roseville, No. 2 Brighton will wrestle No. 7 Grand Haven while No. 4 Temperance Bedford will take on No. 5 Hartland in the opening round.
Quarterfinal predictions: No. 1 CC over No. 8 Roseville, No. 2 Brighton over No. 7 Grand Haven, No. 3 Davison over No. 6 Oxford and No. 5 Hartland over No. 4 Bedford. Semifinals: CC over Hartland, Davison over Brighton. Final: CC over Davison.

In Division 2, Holly is facing the same predicament as Oxford. The Bronchos are ranked No. 6 in the state, but are seeded No. 7 at the finals. The top seven teams all reached the finals. So Holly will have to pull off something special. The Bronchos will face No. 2-ranked Lowell in the quarterfinals. No. 1 seed St. Johns and Lowell, who along with Catholic Central, are widely considered among the three best teams in the entire state, regardless of division. Somehow the seeding committee went against the state rankings and flip-flopped the Bronchos and Stevensville Lakeshore. Not exactly what coach Don Pluta was hoping for before the pairings were announced Sunday night.
Quarterfinal predictions: No. 1 St. Johns over No. 8 Mason, No. 2 Lowell over No. 7 Holly, No. 3 Allegan over No. 6 Lakeshore, No. 5 Greenville over No. 4 Tecumseh. Semifinals: St. Johns over Greenville, Lowell over Allegan. Final: St. Johns over Lowell

Though Oakland County has no horses in Divisions 3 or 4, I'll still offer up my predictions. Like Divisions 1 and 2, the usual suspects made it to Battle Creek. And there's no reason to believe the annual powerhouses won't walk away as champions.
Division 3 quarterfinal predictions: No. 1 Richmond over No. 8 Roscommon, No. 2 Dundee over No. 7 Caro, No. 6 Whitehall over No. 3 Chippewa Hills, No. 5 Otsego over No. 4 Birch Run. Semifinals: Richmond over Otsego, Dundee over Whitehall. Final: Richmond over Dundee
Division 4 quarterfinal predictions: No. 1 Hudson over No. 8 Holton, No. 2 New Lothrop over No. 7 Rogers City, No. 3 Shelby over No. 6 Decatur, No. 4 Manchester over No. 5 Constantine. Semifinals: Hudson over Manchester, New Lothrop over Shelby. Final: Hudson over New Lothrop

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