Oakland County will have 10 representatives wrestling for state titles this afternoon at The Palace. Some were expected to be here. Some were not. Either way, they'll all have a shot at the ultimate goal of any individual wrestler.
Below is a list of the matchups and my predictions of each of them. Last year there were six state champions from Oakland County. Can the guys reach that number in 2013?
Michael Volyanyuk, Farmington Hills Harrison (45-7) vs. Benny Gomez, Holt (48-0)
Talk about your classic David vs. Goliath matchup. Gomez is a returning state placer and the #1 ranked wrestler in the state for his weight. Volyanyuk can learn a lot in this match, regardless of the outcome. But this is not his year. MY PREDICTION: Gomez maj. dec. Volyanyuk, 15-5.
Ken Bade, Catholic Central (39-7) vs. Matt Miller, Davison (29-6)
Talking about a kid on a mission. Bade lost his match in the team state finals. Despite his team going on to pull out yet another state championship, I'm sure it didn't sit well with him leading up to this weekend. He picked up a big win over Miller's teammate, Justin Oliver, in the semis, and beat Miller 11-3 back in December. MY PREDICTION: Bade dec. Miller, 8-4
Malik Amine, Catholic Central (39-6) vs. Eric Rybarz, Anchor Bay (54-2)
Don't let the records fool you. CC wrestles a national schedule. Amine is very much battle tested. He's ranked #1 in the state - Rybarz is #5. All signs point to Amine winning a close match. The only thing I don't like about this matchup is that it's a rematch from last year's second round, which Amine won, 2-0. If Amine stays focused, he wins. MY PREDICTION: Amine dec. Rybarz, 5-3
Andrew Napieraj, Brother Rice (50-2) vs. Travis Mann, Westland John Glenn (31-3)
Napieraj is one of the great stories of this tournament. He told our Marvin Goodwin that despite his semifinal opponent Jordan Amine of Brighton having a broken foot, he didn't want to take advantage of the injury. Most would have. It would be nice to see him carry that momentum into today's final against Mann. But I'm not seeing it. Mann is ranked #1 for a reason. MY PREDICTION: Mann dec. Napieraj, 6-3
Nick Vandermeer, Clarkston (43-5) vs. Jordan Atienza, Livonia Franklin (58-0)
Any kid that can put together 111 wins over two seasons - including a perfect 58-0 record this season - he's legit. And Atienza is wrestling extremely well. But so is Vandermeer, who beat #1 ranked Dominic Letora in the quarterfinals. Still, I like Atienza here, in a close one. If it goes the distance, Atienza wins. MY PREDICTION: Atienza dec. Vandermeer, 6-4
Logan Marcicki, Catholic Central (35-5) vs. Jordan Cooks, Davison (42-1)
Cooks beat Marcicki in a close match at the team state finals last week, 5-3. So much of me wants to pick Marcicki, a former state champion, to come back and win this week. But a small part thinks Cooks will pull away today. I guess it all depends on which Marcicki shows up. MY PREDICTION: Cooks dec. Marcicki, 8-3
Drew Garcia, Catholic Central (51-0) vs. Mitchel Thomas, Hartland (59-1)
He's Oakland County's lone unbeaten wrestler, and I don't see that changing after today's match with Thomas. Garcia can win big, he can win close. Thomas has proven in this tournament that he's a force and that his 59 wins are no fluke. But if Garcia wrestles his match, he won't be beaten. MY PREDICTION: Garcia dec. Thomas, 9-4
Shwan Shadaia, Rochester (53-1) vs. Chris Calvano, Clarkston (40-4)
Guaranteed county champion thanks to these two OAA Red foes. Both were Oakland County champions - Calvano at 189, Shadaia at 215. Really, how can you go wrong here. I guess if I pick the wrong guy, I suppose. Too hard to pick against Shadaia. MY PREDICTION: Shadaia dec. Calvano, 5-3
Bob Coe, Catholic Central (44-4) vs. Parker Tillman, GR Forest Hills Central (41-3)
Coe may have already wrestled his toughest opponent, Holland West Ottawa's Miguel Correa, in the semifinals. That doesn't make this match an easy one. Though I do think Coe will catch Tillman in the second period. MY PREDICTION: Coe p. Tillman, 3:35
Labels: Andrew Napieraj, Bob Coe, Catholic Central, Chris Calvano, Drew Garcia, Ken Bade, Logan Marcicki, Malik Amine, Michael Volyanyuk, Nick Vandermeer, Shwan Shadaia