GREENVILLE — The Greenville Yellow Jackets wrestling season has ended the past four seasons at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek at the team state finals.
Starting with practice in November, that is the goal of every wrestling team. Tonight, the Yellow Jackets have a chance to reach the team state finals for the fifth consecutive season at Mount Pleasant High School.
Unlike other regional tournaments, the Yellow Jackets actually enter the tourney as an underdog.
Greenville is currently ranked No. 8 in Division 2 by michigangrappler.com, while semifinal opponent Gaylord is ranked No. 7. Potential finals opponent Bay City Western in ranked No. 6.
“We’ve had good adversaries, we just have never been the underdog,” Greenville coach Paul Johnson said. “I feel like we have a good team, it’s just the competition has improved. Gaylord has the best team they’ve had in a while and likewise for Bay City Western.”
Escanaba, the forgotten team of the regional, will face Bay City Western in the other semifinal.
The same four teams have competed in the past two regional tournaments, while Greenville, Escanaba and Gaylord and been in the past four together. Bay City Western wrestled in Division 1 in 2010 and 2011, but won district titles to advance to regionals.
Johnson said his team isn’t worried about being an underdog.
“These are just rankings. When it’s all said and done you have to go out there and perform,” he said. “We feel like we have a good team and we have decent wrestlers. The question is how will the teams place their athletes in the match. It’s really a chess match.”
Greenville defeated Bay City Western 45-19 in the regional final last year. They defeated Gaylord in the regional semifinals in 2012 and 2010.
“I think that it will be a real close match with Gaylord and I think it will be a real close match with Bay City Western,” Johnson said. “Either way you look at it, it will be close.”
That means, each match will come down to bonus points and not getting pinned.
“The big difference is bonus points,” Johnson said. “How many they get or turn it around and how many they give up.”
The state quarterfinals take place on Feb. 21. The semifinals and finals on Feb. 22. Both competition dates are at Kellogg Arena.
Area Regional Wrestling Schedule
No. 109 at
Bay City Western vs. Escanaba
Greenville vs. Gaylord
No. 118 at Clare
Tri County vs. Farwell
Central Montcalm vs. Chippewa Hills
No. 127 at CC-Crystal
St. Louis vs. Kent City
Laingsburg vs. CC-Crystal
Note: Regional tournaments take place today at 6 p.m. Semifinal winners will meet in regional finals 10 minutes following completion of semifinal round.