Top sports stories of 2011, pt. 2

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 11:23 am on Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Greenville wrestling team listens to the national anthem prior to its state finals match with St. Johns in Febryary. The Yellow Jackets finished second in the state.

As 2011 comes to a close, The Daily News is taking a look back at the top 10 local sports stories of the year. Friday we looked at 10 to four. Today we reveal the top three local sports stories of the year.

Today’s stories feature three teams from different schools. All three had tremendous success and were some of the best is school history.

No. 3 Montabella football has record breaking season

Despite a 4-5 record in 2010, an improved season was expected in 2011 from the Montabella Mustangs football team. Improve, they did.

Montabella finished the regular season with an 8-1 record, which tied the school record for wins.

They broke the record by winning their ninth game and first ever playoff game with a 38-22 win over Burton Bendle in the first round of the playoffs.

The Mustangs’ season came to an end in the district final with a loss to eventual state champion Saginaw Nouvel.

The Mustangs had seven players earn all-league honors while four earned AP all-state honors.

Wide receiver Jemikal Papendick was one of three receivers to earn first team honors. Quarterback Charley Helmer earned special mention while linebacker Travis Dunn and coach David Clay earned an honorable mention.

No. 2 Belding softball reaches quarterfinals again

The Belding Redskins capped another outstanding softball season with a second straight trip to the state quarterfinals.

Belding tied for the O-K Blue Conference title with Coopersville, won a third consecutive district title and won their second straight regional championship in Division 2 this year.

Redskins pitcher Kyleigh Linebaugh threw a perfect game in a 4-0 win over Cedar Springs to win the district title.

She then threw a no-hitter in 3-0 win over Hudsonville Unity Christian to win the regional title. The regional title win may not have happened if not for a three-run walk-off homerun by Morgan Hill in a 3-0 win over Spring Lake in the regional semifinals.

Belding lost in the quarterfinals to eventual state champion Stevensville Lakeshore 6-1. They finished the season with a record of 29-6.

Linebaugh earned all-state honors for the second straight year while Morgan Hill was named all-region.

No. 1 Greenville wrestlers finish second in Division 2

The Greenville Yellow Jackets wrestling team reached the Division 2 state final match for the second time in school history. They won the title in 2008.

Unfortunately, the ran into one of the best teams in, not just the state, but the country in St. Johns. The Red Wings defeated the Yellow Jackets 54-18 to win their second straight state title.

Greenville also fell to St. Johns in the state semifinals in 2010 by just one point.

The Yellow Jackets finished the year with a record of 33-3. They tied for the O-K White Conference title with Lowell, won a sixth straight district title and a second consecutive regional title.

Greenville defeated Holly 37-23 in the quarterfinals and Tecumseh 31-29 in the semifinals.

They defeated Sparta 53-19 to win regionals and Mount Pleasant 62-12 for a district title win.

The Yellow Jackets had eight wrestlers qualify for the individual state tournament and had four place.

Jordan Thomas won his second consecutive state title (171 pounds), Adam Bonner was second (160), Justin Zimmer fifth (285) and Luke Gilmore finished eighth (130).

The Yellow Jackets lost a few talented wrestlers, but returned some as well. As always, they are expected to compete for another trip to the state finals in Battle Creek in 2012.

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