MOUNT PLEASANT — For the fourth consecutive year, the Greenville Yellow Jackets wrestling team, family, friends and fans will make the trip down M-66 to Battle Creek for the team state wrestling championships at Kellogg Arena.
The Yellow Jackets — ranked No. 7 in Division 2 — earned the trip with two more convincing victories in a regional that was expected to be a little more competitive.
Greenville (28-4) wasted no time in the finals against Bay City Western. The Yellow Jackets won their first six matches, four of them by pins, and opened a commanding 33-0, while winning 45-20.
Beginning at 189 pounds, it turned out to be the perfect starting weight for the Yellow Jackets.
“I was thinking about if we started around there (189 pounds) last night. Actually, I thought 171 would be a better weight class to start,” Greenville coach Paul Johnson said. “It turned out 189 was just fine. We started out with six wins and led 33-0. At that point, being so far behind, you have to get almost all pins.”
Senior Dakota Sherrick jump started the Yellow Jackets as he needed just 54 seconds to pin Cody Oakes at 189. At 215, Jordan Dassinger followed with a pin of his own in 1:53.
“It was a great start and that built momentum and carried us through,” Sherrick said. “It just comes down to solid kids all the way through the lineup. We can start anywhere we want to and have a good chance to win. It’s a real nice reliable thing.”
Carter Magirl (285) avenged a weekend loss at individual districts with a 4-0 win over Jacob Alarie for a 15-0 lead. Greenville picked up six points at 103 with a void by Western and a win by Luke Fuhrman.
Greenville was planning on voiding at 103, but Western’s Nick Stack broke his wrist in the first match against Gaylord. With no other 103-pounder, Western was forced to void the match, with Greenville benefitting with an extra six points.
Nate Baker (112) and Michael Schmidt (119) continued the opening stretch with two more pins and a 33-0 lead.
“We all showed up ready to wrestle. We were pumped up and stayed that way,” Sherrick said. “It was in our mindset we were going to state no matter what. We just made it happen, that’s all.”
Bay City Western won the next two matches to make the score 33-7. Greenville’s Alec Ward defeated Western’s Chris Schoenherr for the third time this season with a 3-2 decision and a 36-7 lead.
With five matches left, Western needed pins the remainder of the way to even win the match.
“Bay City Western is kind of old school wrestling. They are good on the mat, decent on their feet, but their strength is on the mat,” Johnson said. “They are hard to get away from, hard to turn and hard to hold on to. That throwback style is hard to compete with if you’re not used to it.”
At 140, Greenville’s Quentin Callahan lost his match, but avoided being pinned to secure the regional title for the Yellow Jackets.
In fact, no Yellow Jacket has been pinned in any of the four team tournament matches at districts or regionals.
“No one got pinned. That’s huge and that’s what we talked about,” Johnson said. “It’s the second week in a row and we aren’t just talking about run of the mill kids. Some of these kids are state qualifiers. Everyone did their part. It was a great team effort.”
Kyle Reamer (145) and Reed Cox (160) picked up wins for Greenville in the final four matches.
The night was not perfect for Greenville, though. Jake Hopkins (152) was injured in his match and was carried off the mat with a left foot injury (the extent of the injury was not known at press time).
The win sends Greenville back to Battle Creek for the fourth straight season. They will find out finals seedings on Sunday evening.
“It’s a pretty sweet feeling,” Greenville senior Dakota Sherrick said. “It’s a good feeling to celebrate with the team. We all contributed to this.”
In the semifinals, the Yellow Jackets racked up seven pins to defeat Escanaba 53-21. It was the fourth consecutive year Greenville has ended the season of the Eskymos. The other semifinal between Gaylord and Bay City Western finished in a 36-36 tie, but Western won on criteria with an 8-6 advantage in matches won.
“We planned more for Bay City Western, but what happened was their 103-pounder got hurt,” Johnson said. “That really effected the other match. That’s what kept it closer of Gaylord. It was also a 12-point swing for us and that was significant.”
Greenville lost to Tecumseh 30-29 in the quarterfinals last year. They won a Division 2 state title in 2008 with a 33-30 win over Eaton Rapids.
The Yellow Jackets will travel to Bay City Western for individual regionals on Saturday.