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On March 3, 2018, Brandon Whitman put the finishing touches on a storied high school wrestling career by becoming Dundee's first, four-time Michigan state champion.
Celebrating with Whitman was freshman teammate Stoney Buell, who put himself on a path to matching that feat one day by capturing the Division 3, 135-pound state title.
"Congrats to Brandon Whitman, Monroe County’s first 4x State champ," a post on Dundee's Twitter account read that day. "Also huge congrats to freshman Stoney Buell."
The hashtag "#future4x" followed Buell's name on the post.
On the cusp of his senior year, Buell is one title away from making that hashtag's prediction a reality and joining Whitman as the Vikings' only four-time state champions. In all, that exclusive club has only 29 current members.
There is also a chance Buell and Whitman could be celebrating as teammates again.
Buell, the nation's eighth-ranked 160-pounder and No. 76 on the Class of 2021 Big Board, listed North Carolina among his final five college choices in an Instagram post last month along with Purdue, Michigan State, Central Michigan, and Clarion.
Whitman, the Tar Heels' 197-pound starter, is heading into his junior season and was an NCAA qualifier as a true freshman.
Buell's collegiate weight will likely be 165 pounds and only two of the five wrestlers at that weight on the Tar Heels' current roster will still be around when Buell sets foot on campus in the fall of 2021. Starter Kennedy Monday is a senior next season.
Given his credentials and rising national profile, Buell drew plenty of college interest. He is clearly Michigan's top remaining unsigned 2021 prospect.
Last season, he won a third state championship in dominating fashion with an 82-second pin, a technical fall and two major decisions by a combined 27-6 margin in four state-tournament matches.
Buell's high school record stands at 133-10, including 45-3 last season when he also helped Dundee to a third consecutive team state championship with a 17-2 technical fall in the quarterfinals, a 39-second pin in the semifinals and an 8-0 shutout in the title match against Richmond.
Among Michigan wrestlers, he lost only to Detroit Catholic Central's Manny Rojas, No. 8 in the current 182-pound national rankings, after decisioning him in the 16U, 152-pound freestyle title match in Fargo last summer.
Buell's junior season also included a Grappler Gold Invitational title and finishing fourth at the Brecksville Holiday Tournament.
At the recent Midwest Ironman Duals in South Dakota, he needed just 54 seconds to finish off two-time Iowa State champion Hayden Taylor, the nation's 15th-ranked 160-pounder. Taylor went 52-0 last season.
Buell also knocked off two-time Missouri state champion Gavin Gross in just under two minutes and stopped Alaska state champion Vincent Cramer, an Eastern Oregon commit, with a 15-5 technical fall. Another notable technical fall victory came against Oregon state runner-up Tyler Resko (15-4).
Buell first tried the sport in kindergarten when he joined the Ida Wrestling Club and also trained with the Dundee Wrestling Club.
He gradually improved and began making noise on the national scene at age 10 in 2013, capturing titles at Border Wars Nationals and Ohio Tournament of Champions. He was also third at the Viper Pit and Liberty Nationals that year.
In 2017, Buell won the USA Wrestling Kids and Veterans Folkstyle National Championships, 136-pound title with a 90-second pin in the final. Less than a year later, he earned his first state championship with a 6-1 decision over Shepherd’s Trevor Robinson, who became a state champion himself the next season.
Buell’s next state title proved much more difficult to earn when he faced Lake Fenton’s Sean Trombley in the Division 3, 152-pound final. Trombley boasted a 50-1 record and had finished second in the state the previous two seasons.
The match soon became a defensive tussle and remained scoreless through two periods. Buell began the third period on bottom and quickly escaped to earn the only point of the match, outlasting Trombley for a 1-0 decision.
In addition to the Fargo freestyle championship, Buell's 2019 also included a sixth in freestyle and seventh in Greco at FloNationals and sixth at the UWW Cadet Nationals.
Buell’s talents go beyond wrestling.
He is also an all-conference linebacker who helped Dundee to its first football playoff berth in seven years last season.
Growing up on a family farm has fueled Buell’s passion for showing cows. His honors include Supreme Milk Cow at the Monroe County Fair and Top Showman Award at the Lenawee County Fair.
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, Michigan.