GREENVILLE — One team was undermanned, the other was one of the best teams in the country.
The level of competition changed dramatically from one match to another on Wednesday night for the Greenville Yellow Jackets wrestling team at home.
Greenville (24-4) began the night with a quick 76-4 victory against O-K Bronze opponent Grand Rapids West Catholic. The win gave the Yellow Jackets the regular season conference title with a perfect 5-0 league record.
“We secured half of it and we are going for the other half on Saturday,” Greenville assistant coach Bill Breen said. “Our goal is definitely to win it outright. That was our first goal coming into the season. It’s nice to have half of that done.”
The second match didn’t fare the same for the Yellow Jackets as they lost 55-17 to St. Johns — the top rated team in the state and three-time defending Division 2 state champions. Greenville is ranked No. 7 in Division 2.
“They are the number one team in the state, top 10 in the nation,” Breen said. “We have to be realistic. We know we can’t beat them, but we came out there and we made them fight, made them work for it.”
West Catholic voided eight matches against the Yellow Jackets. Greenville did get pins in four of its six wrestled matches by Nate Baker (112), Kyle Reamer (140), Jake Hopkins (145) and Reed Cox (160). Freshman Luke Fuhrman earned the first varsity win of his career at 103.
Against St. Johns, the Yellow Jackets managed four wins. The Redwings recently defeated the No. 1 rated team in Division 1 in Detroit Catholic Central.
“We started off well with a win by Mikey (Schmidt), 125 (Tate Jeffrey) was a good win,” Breen said. “(Kyle) Reamer at 140 gave Logan Massa a good match and only gave up a major. Carter (Magirl) at 215 had lost twice to (Blake) Cooper, but got a win tonight.
“I definitely think there were a lot of positives tonight and it is better than sitting at home,” he added.
Schmidt (119) earned a technical fall over Dillon Cornell to start the match. Jeffrey also earned a technical fall in the second match as Greenville opened a 10-0 lead.
“Earlier in the season I pinned him,” Schmidt said. “Today he was a lot harder to turn, but I still feel like I managed him pretty well. I sat out a couple of days this week with a knee problem, but came back today ready to wrestle.”
St. Johns, though rallied off eight consecutive wins, including five pins and two tech falls. Greenville’s Reamer wrestled Logan Massa — rated No. 1 at 140 — and held him to just a major decision.
Greenville got back on the winning side with a 6-2 decision by Carter Magirl (215) over Blake Cooper. Magirl is ranked eighth and Cooper sixth. Cooper had beaten Magirl in both their previous two meetings.
“The first time I lost to him by four, the second time I lost by one or two,” Magirl said. “I knew I could beat him. I’ve never been so excited for a match in my life. I was pumped and ready for the match.”
Baker got Greenville’s final win with an 11-1 major decision over Derek Droste.
“When you beat a St. Johns kid you feel really good about it,” Schmidt said. “But they are a really good, solid team. Before the match our coaches were telling us to wrestle all three periods and not to give up in the first. That’s what you have to do against a team like that.”
Of Greenville’s four losses this season, two have been to St. Johns. The others to Allegan (ranked No. 4) and Tecumseh (No. 6) this year.
“Once we hit next week, it’s win or we are done,” Breen said. “Having to face this caliber of a team, seeing the kids get excited, that is the kind of mentality we have to have the rest of the way. No matter who it is, we are going to go out there and do our best.”
Greenville will be at Forest Hills Eastern Saturday for the conference tournament, which is an individual format.
On Feb. 7, the Yellow Jackets will be at Fremont for the Division 2 district tournament. They will face Cedar Springs in one semifinal, while Fremont will face Big Rapids in the other.
Greenville has won seven straight district titles.
“Last time we saw them (Cedar Springs), they were down guys, but we expect them to be better,” Breen said. “Fremont and Big Rapids will face each other on the other side and I expect them to have a good dual.”
Breen filled in for head coach Paul Johnson.