11 area wrestlers begin season ranked in top 10


By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 1:54 pm on Friday, December 02, 2011

Greenville junior Michael Schmidt wrestles his opponent from Lowell during a match last year. Schmidt begins the season ranked No. 3 in Division 2 at 103 pounds by michigangrappler.com.

The 2011-2012 high school wrestling season begins on Wednesday. The sport of wrestling is different than most in the fact wrestlers get a chance to compete as individuals as well as teammates.

Not only do teams compete for tournament, district, regional and state championships, but individuals do the same. Michigangrappler.com — a leading wrestling website — has released its preseason rankings and it is filled with 11 area wrestlers.

In Division 2, the Greenville Yellow Jackets feature six ranked wrestlers on its team including four that qualified for the state individual tournament a year ago.

Returning state qualifiers include Michael Schmidt, Devon Lehman, Luke Gilmore and Jordan Thomas.

Schmidt — junior ranked No. 3 at 103 pounds — was 44-15 last year at 103 and placed fourth at the regionals to qualify for state. He went 1-2 at the state tournament.

Lehman — senior ranked No. 6 at 140 — finished last season at 35-18 at 135 and placed second at regionals to qualify for state. He went 0-2 at the state tournament.

Gilmore — senior ranked No. 6 at 145 — went 54-10 last year and finished third at regionals to qualify for state. He went 2-2 at the state tournament to finish eighth overall.

Thomas — senior ranked No. 1 at 189 — went a perfect 62-0 last year at 171 and won his second consecutive state title. He defeated Holly’s Shawn Scott for the title. Thomas — committed to Michigan to wrestle — finished second as a freshman.

Also ranked for the Yellow Jackets are Alec Ward — No. 9 at 125 pounds — and Kaleb Bell — No. 10 at 189.

Ward, a sophomore, went 39-11 last year at 112. He won a district title to qualify for the regional tournament. Bell, a senior, went 30-10 at 171. He placed third at regionals to qualify for the regional tournament.

As a team, the Yellow Jackets are ranked No. 3 in Division 2 behind top ranked St. Johns and No. 2 Lowell. The Yellow Jackets lost to two-time defending champions St. Johns in the championship match a year ago. Lowell won the state title in 2009 and Greenville in 2008.

In Division 3, the Lakeview Wildcats have three ranked wrestlers to begin the season, two of them state qualifiers a year ago.

Andrew Hall — senior ranked No. 10 at 130 — went 37-9 last year at 125 while placing third at regionals. The senior went 1-2 in the state tournament.

Jordan Betham —  senior ranked No. 2 at 152 — went 47-7 last year at 152 while placing fourth at the state tournament for his best career finish.

Joe Main —  senior ranked No. 10 at 189 — went 26-9 last year at 189 and finished fourth at districts.

In Division 4, ranked wrestlers include Jeremy Quezada of Montabella and Kenneth Dittenber of Carson City-Crystal.

Quezada — senior ranked No. 7 at 285 — went 50-7 last year at 215 and finished third at regionals to qualify for the state tournament. He went 1-2 at the state tournament.

Dittenber — junior ranked No. 1 at 112 — went 54-1 last year at 103 and won his first individual state championship.

On Wednesday, Greenville will travel to Brighton for a quad, Carson City-Crystal will be at the Belding quad, Montabella is at the Chippewa Hills quad and Lakeview is at the Alma quad.

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