GREENVILLE – Now a Yellow Jacket, but soon to be a Wolverine.
Years of hard work and dedication paid off for Greenville wrestler Jordan Thomas on Wednesday morning. Thomas, one of the best wrestlers in the nation, signed his letter of intent in front of family and mentors to wrestle for the University of Michigan. He committed to Michigan last year.
“It’s nice to be 100 percent official. Now I can concentrate on my senior year,” Thomas said. “I don’t have to worry about what college I’m going to. I’m just going to focus on having a good year.”
Cornell, Ind., and Central Michigan were all on Thomas’ list before he chose Michigan for a variety of reasons.
“There wasn’t a single thing I didn’t like,” Thomas said. “The coaches, the facilities, teammates, academics, location and the addition of new assistant coaches. Everything fit together.”
Thomas – career record of 172-3 – has won two state individual titles (2010, 160 pounds; 2011, 171 pounds) and helped his team to a Division 2 state runner-up finish last season.
He lost as a freshman in the 145 pound individual final to St. Johns’ Taylor Massa, who is undefeated in his high school career and soon to be a teammate of Thomas at Michigan.
Wrestling is a year-round effort for Thomas. He makes it across the country wrestling in some of the top tournaments and works out all summer long.
“I wrestled this summer in Fargo, ND for freestyle nationals and I finished fifth,” Thomas said. “I worked out with the St. Johns guys all summer. I stayed with the Massas to help prepare for the nationals and this season.”
Thomas also participated in the Super 32 Challenge in North Carolina and took fourth.
Already technically sound, in preparation for this season and his college career Thomas is working most on increasing his size and strength.
“The biggest thing I’m trying to improve on is my size. Getting bigger and stronger,” he said. “The bigger I can get for college the better. I need to get bigger and stronger.”
In preseason rankings by michigangrappler.com Thomas is No. 1 at 189 and No. 2 overall behind Massa.
“The 189 weight class is a pretty loaded class,” Thomas said. “It has returning state champion Gabe Dean (Lowell, No. 2 ranking) and a lot of other all-state returners at 189. It will be good competition all year.”
The matchup of the year could come on Jan. 4 when Thomas will battle Dean at home. There are a couple of other wrestlers Thomas is looking forward to wrestling as well.
“Payne Haden of St. Johns. He wrestled 140 last year and is up to 189 this year. He got huge and he’s good,” Thomas said. “The kid I beat in the state finals last year Shawn Scott (Holly) and Dean’s teammate Garrett Stehley.”
While Thomas has been working a long time for this success he credits many others for helping his career along the way.
“I want to thank Greenville coaches Paul Johnson and Bill Breen. Rodger Massa (Taylor’s dad and summer coach), Tom Bennett and Craig Shuitch (Michigan Xtreme wrestling family),” Thomas said. “Dennis Powers (youth/middle school coach), Jeff Day for keeping me healthy and being there for me at my big tournaments and Michigan’s head coach Joe McFarland.
“And of course, my parents and family. They have helped me tremendously along the way,” he added.
The first day of wrestling practice begins Nov. 21 and Greenville’s first match is at the Brighton quad on Dec. 7.