GREENVILLE — Can the Greenville Yellow Jackets wrestling team win a seventh straight district title?
The Yellow Jackets have been preparing for a challenge tonight with a possible matchup of state ranked teams. Greenville — ranked No. 5 in Division 2 by michigangrappler.com — is expecting to see the No. 9 rated Sparta Spartans in the district final.
Sparta will face O-K Blue rival Cedar Springs in the district semifinal first at Greenville High School. The winner meets the Yellow Jackets.
“They are really good in their middle weights,” Greenville coach Paul Johnson said of Sparta. “They have a state champ at 140 in Nick Trimble, they have a decent 103-pounder and they get good at 125 and they are good all the way up to 189.
“They are decent at top. I think we can get them there. It’s just going to be those middle matches,” he added.
Greenville is coming off a second place finish in the O-K White tournament on Friday. The Lowell Red Arrows — No. 2 in Division 2 — were first.
Sparta won the O-K Blue tournament on Saturday with 206.5 points. Coopersville was second with 184 points.
The Yellow Jackets had four conference champions (Michael Schmidt, 103 pounds; Alec Ward, 130; Kyle Reamer, 135 and Luke Gilmore, 160) and six wrestlers finish in second place.
The Spartans captured three conference titles (Brad Ronning, 103; Nick Trimble, 140 and James Rodgers, 189) and had five wrestlers finish in second place.
“The flip of the coin will be significant,” Johnson said.
There are 14 weight classes, seven odd numbered and seven even numbered. Winning the coin toss allows a team to decide if they want the odd or even weight classes.
“If your team has the odd weight classes that means you have to present your wrestler on the mat first,” Johnson said. “It also gives you an advantage as you get to make a decision in the second period of top, bottom or deferred.
“In a match like this the important thing is we want to get the proper matchups. Just like they do,” he added.
Greenville has fought the injury bug as of late, but are healthy for the Spartans tonight.
In all, the Yellow Jackets have six state ranked wrestlers while the Spartans have three.
A few intriguing matchups could take place. A battle of conference champs could take place at 103 (Schmidt/Ronning) and matchups with state ranked wrestlers could happen at 140 (Lehman/Trimble) and 189 (Jordan Thomas/Rodgers).
Greenville did not face Sparta in a dual this season, but they both participated in the Sparta Invitational, an individual tournament. Sparta did place ahead of the Yellow Jackets.
Should the Yellow Jackets capture a seventh straight district title they would travel to Bay City Western and face the winner of the Ogemaw Heights district on Feb. 15.
Individual districts for Greenville will take place Saturday at Gaylord. Starting weight will be at 119.