Greenville High School has a really good wrestling team and wrestling program.
That is evident as the team is making its third straight — fourth in five years — appearance at the Division 2 team state finals in Battle Creek. It is evident when 11 individual wrestlers place at districts and another six make it beyond regionals to the state finals.
With that being said, there is a problem or rather problems. They are the St. Johns Redwings.
St. Johns — the two-time defending Division 2 state champions — is a juggernaut. They are the best team in the state, hands downs, and one of the best in the nation.
They will win their third straight state title and may very well make it look easy.
Unfortunately, the other seven teams making the trip to Battle Creek are battling for second place. Possibly, six of them are vying just to make it to the semifinals.
Reason being? The Lowell Red Arrows.
The Red Arrows are ranked No. 2 in Division 2, behind the Redwings. The are No. 2 in the power rankings (all divisions), behind the Redwings and ranked nationally, as well.
For all of that, the Red Arrows get to lose to the Redwings in the state finals.
Greenville coach Paul Johnson told me he thinks this is the best team Lowell has ever had. That’s saying a lot considering their history of state championships (2009, ‘04, ‘02) and second place finishes (2007, ‘01, ‘00, ‘99).
Now, I’m not saying this to take away from anything the Yellow Jackets or the other five teams in Battle Creek have done this year. It’s just in wrestling the best teams usually win. That’s it.
There isn’t a wrestler in the Greenville program that doesn’t realize St. Johns is the best. Greenville was outstanding last year — even better than this year — and still lost by a fair margin to the Redwings in the 2011 finals.
The 2010 Greenville team was even better than last year’s team and still lost to the Redwings, although that was much closer (by a point) in the semifinals.
Unfortunately, in wrestling there isn’t going to be a cold shooting night. A couple of fumbles isn’t going to change the momentum of the game.
St. Johns had 10 individual regional champions. That’s out of 14 weight classes.
Facing the St. Johns lineup is like facing Justin Verlander every single game. There is no No. 5 starter to contend with.
The Yellow Jackets know this. And if they defeat Tecumseh in the quarterfinals tonight, they will run into the domination that is St. Johns wrestling.
Regardless, the Yellow Jackets will battle and try their best in Battle Creek. They have fought through injuries and adversity this year.
They will not be intimidated by the Redwings. That is true.
They just won’t be able to defeat them. That is also true.
This is just a year where really good isn’t going to be really good enough. It’s also a year where great isn’t even enough.
This is a year where elite is what will win a state championship. The St. Johns Redwings are the elite team.