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Exciting high school wrestlers to watch in Michigan?
The list is lengthy, but here are five of the very best worth following this season.
All anticipate that the momentum of offseason national (in one case, international) success will carry them to more team and individual glory. Some are also chasing history in hopes of joining the elite four-time state champions club which currently has 27 members.
1. Austin Boone | Lowell
The senior can become the Red Arrows' second four-time state champion, joining Joe Mendez (2002-05).
If Boone succeeds and Lowell wins another team state title, he would join Davison's Brent Metcalf (2002-05) as the only Michigan wrestlers to win four team and individual state championships.
Flint Powers' Sean Spidle and Mendon's Skyler Crespo are also seeking their fourth state titles.
Boone, ranked sixth nationally at 145 pounds, went 31-4 last season, capturing the Division 2, 152-pound state championship. His high school record is 115-8.
Boone's busy offseason included placing third at the Super 32, Grappler Fall Classic, and Journeyman Tournaments. At Super 32, he knocked off four opponents ranked in the top 20 nationally, including No. 7 Ed Scott.
Boone is still mulling his college options.
2. Sean Spidle | Flint Powers
The senior went 37-0 last season in clinching his third state championship (Division 2, 152 pounds). Spidle won his first two titles in Division 3 and will compete in that division again this season.
He is one of three Michigan returnees who was unbeaten last season along with Macomb Dakota's Brendan Ferretti (54-0) and Rochester's Kavan Troy (50-0).
The Central Michigan commit boasts a 116-6 high school record. He won the 120-pound, grade 11-12 USA Wrestling Pre-Nationals title during the offseason and was third at the Grappler Fall Classic.
3. Alex Facundo | Davison
The junior is the only Michigan wrestler currently appearing in FloWrestling's pound-for-pound rankings (sixth). He is also ranked second at 170 pounds.
Facundo won his second state title (Division 1, 160) and finished 39-2 last season. His two-year high school record is 70-2.
Facundo's memorable offseason included winning a second straight bronze medal at the Cadet World Championships, this time at 71 kilograms. He also won a Folkstyle National Championship and placed second at the Who's #1 tournament.
4. Derek Gilcher | Detroit Catholic Central
The senior went 35-2 last season in capturing his second straight state title (Division 1, 140). He was fourth as a freshman and has a high school record of 106-17, 74-7 the past two seasons.
Gilcher, ranked 10th nationally at 160 pounds, was very active during the offseason, winning the Grappler Fall Classic, 160-pound title and being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. He bested Chase Saldate (No. 3, 152 pounds) and B.J. Bailey (No. 7, 160) during the event.
The Indiana commit was also fifth at the Super 32 and seventh at Freestyle Nationals (152 pounds).
5. Chayse LaJoie | Gaylord
After winning state championships as a freshman and sophomore, LaJoie was edged 3-2 by Warren Woods-Tower's Chaise Mayer in the Division 2, 125-pound final season. Mayer used a second-period escape to break the 2-2 tie before riding LaJoie out for the entire third period.
LaJoie, ranked ninth nationally at 126 pounds, erased some of that disappointment with a productive offseason. He won the 120-pound, Greco national title in Fargo, knocking off Old Dominion commit and Illinois state champion Anthony Molton in the final. He was also third in freestyle.
LaJoie, who has a 149-9 high school record, is headed to Cornell.
Mark Spezia is a freelance writer based in Lapeer, Michigan. He has written for ESPNW, Flohockey, Flint, Michigan-based My City Magazine, the Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit Magazine and Troy, Michigan-based Oakland Press. He previously worked for the Flint Journal, Lapeer (Michigan) County Press and Daily Mining Gazette in Houghton, Michiga