GHS reaches state finals for 3rd straight year

By Bruce Bentley • Last Updated 10:18 am on Friday, February 24, 2012

GREENVILLE — The Greenville Yellow Jackets wrestling team is becoming quite familiar with Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

The Yellow Jackets will wrestle at Kellogg Arena tonight in the Division 2 team state finals for the third consecutive season and fourth time in five years. They were state champions in 2008.

Runner-up a year ago, the Yellow Jackets (26-7) will face the Tecumseh Indians (29-4) at 7:45 p.m. tonight in the quarterfinals. This will be the second time the two teams are facing each other this season.

Tecumseh defeated the Yellow Jackets 38-22 on Dec. 17 at the Holland Invitational. It’s the main reason the Indians (No. 4 seed) are seeded higher than the Yellow Jackets (No. 5).

“It wasn’t a big surprise. What happened was Tecumseh, Allegan and us were going to be the three, four or five seeds,” Greenville coach Paul Johnson said of the seeding. “At Holland, we beat Allegan, Allegan beat Tecumseh and Tecumseh beat us. I think what happened was we had the biggest deficit and Allegan appears to be coming on strong at the end of the year.”

Allegan (32-3) is the No. 3 seeded team. St. Johns — two-time Division 2 defending champion — is No. 1 and the Lowell Red Arrows are the No. 2 seeded team. St. Johns is favored to win its third straight title Saturday.

The Yellow Jackets weren’t at full strength when they faced the Indians the first time. Johnson doesn’t think the Indians were at full strength, either.

“We weren’t at full strength, but I look at their lineup now and they weren’t either,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be a matter of where both teams weigh kids in. You can make adjustments and move up and down in the weight classes.”

Johnson said it is tough to predict how things will turn out. His goal was just to have his kids ready to wrestle.

“We’ll get our guys ready the best that we can,” Johnson said. “There will be some swing matches. 103 will be a big match, 125 and 130 will be important matches. We’ve been wrestling well at 119 and would be nice to see a good match there. We are a little better at the upper weights.”

Tecumseh placed first in the Southeastern Conference this year.

They had seven wrestlers (Ricky Azelton, 103 pounds; Chase Lewis, 1112; Ronnie Bechtol, 135; Anthony Lesko, 140; Christian Shelby, 152; Cole Amstutz, 171 and Joe Rebottaro, 285) qualify for the individual state wrestling tournament beginning on March 1.

The Yellow Jackets were second in the O-K White behind the Red Arrows.

They had six wrestlers (Michael Schmidt, 103; Alec Ward, 125; Devon Lehman, 140; Luke Gilmore, 160; Jordan Thomas, 189 and Carter Magirl, 215) qualify for the individual finals.

“All the matches will be important this year,” Johnson said. “The coin toss will be important. Most important thing is we still have to wrestle. Our kids always wrestle well down there.

“This is our sixth trip to the finals and we’ve never had a disappointing trip down there,” he added.

The winner of this match will face the winner of St. Johns (22-1) and Mason (35-4) in the semifinals Saturday at 11:45 a.m. The state finals (all divisions) will take place at 4 p.m.

2012 MHSAA team state wrestling finals 

Quarterfinals — Today 

Division 1 — 5:30 p.m.

#1 Detroit Catholic Central (22-3) vs #8 Roseville (13-15)

#4 Temperance Bedford (20-3) vs #5 Hartland (29-3)

#3 Davison (19-4) vs #6 Oxford (18-5)

#2 Brighton (39-0) vs #7 Grand Haven (21-7)

Division 2 — 7:45 p.m. 

#1 St. Johns (22-1) vs #8 Mason (35-4)

#4 Tecumseh (29-4) vs #5 Greenville (26-7)

#3 Allegan (32-3) vs #6 Stevensville Lakeshore (22-9)

#2 Lowell (24-1) vs #7 Holly (29-5)

Division 3 — 3:15 p.m. 

#1 Richmond (26-5) vs #8 Roscommon (24-5)

#4 Birch Run (22-3) vs #5 Otsego (28-2)

#3 Remus Chippewa Hills (36-4) vs #6 Whitehall (24-6)

#2 Dundee (15-7) vs #7 Caro (27-2)

Division 4 — 1 p.m. 

#1 Hudson (24-2) vs #8 Holton (24-8)

#4 Manchester (27-2) vs #5 Constantine (32-2)

#3 Shelby (31-2) vs #6 Decatur (26-2)

#2 New Lothrop (26-2)  vs  #7 Rogers City (26-10)

Semifinals — tomorrow

Division 1 — 11:45 a.m.

Division 2 — 11:45 a.m.

Division 3 — 9:30 a.m.

Division 4 — 9:30 a.m.

Finals — tomorrow

Division 1 — 4 p.m.

Division 2 — 4 p.m.

Division 3 — 4 p.m.

Division 4 — 4 p.m.

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