Matt Lyle and the Dowagiac wrestling team will compete in the Greater Berrien County Wrestling Invitational Saturday at St. Joseph. Wrestling will begin at 9:30 a.m. (Daily News Photo/File)

Archived Story

Area’s best wrestlers gathering

Published 4:36pm Thursday, January 26, 2012

There has been a change to the annual Greater Berrien County Wrestling Invitational.

The meet has been opened up to more schools. But that might not be the only change this year.

Perennial champion Lakeshore may be in danger of being knocked from the top spot in the tournament, which features many of the top wrestlers from southwest Michigan.

The Lancers, ranked No. 7 in Division 2, have won all but six of the meets. Lakeshore has 26 victories in the tournament’s 32-year history, but have been particularly dominant the last four — winning by an average of nearly 87 points.

The last time the Lancers did not win the meet was in 2007 when Niles captured the championship. The win snapped a 10-year winning streak for Lakeshore.

The Vikings are the only team to win the tournament more than once other than Lakeshore. Eau Claire (1980), St. Joseph (1993) and Coloma (1995) are the other winners of the tournament.

The Vikings are one of several teams that might give Lakeshore a run for its money this season.

A total of 16 teams will compete Saturday at St. Joseph High School, including four of the five Cass County schools.

Benton Harbor, Berrien Springs, Bridgman, Buchanan, Cassopolis, Countryside Charter/LMC, Coloma, Covert, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg, Hartford, River Valley, St. Joseph and Watervliet will all be joining the Lancers and Vikings.

Lakeshore easily outdistanced runner-up Buchanan last year 276.5-214. Niles finished third with 146 points.

The Vikings have one defending champion in Donte Stevens, who captured the 145-pound division. Fritzel Findeisen was third at 152-pounds and Darek Mills fourth at 119-pounds.

Stevens is currently 21-2 at 152. Findeisen is 22-4 at 160.

Buchanan has one defending champion, undefeated Gage Hutchison at 215-pounds. He could end up in the match of the day as he could be paired against 17-1 Kyle Spear of Lakeshore. Hutchison is rated No. 1 in Division 3 and Spear No. 3 in Division 2.

Other top wrestlers competing Saturday will be David Melendez of St. Joseph (22-0), Tyler Daniel of St. Joseph (22-0), Jeff Mucha of Buchanan (34-2), Kyle Carlson of Lakeshore (24-2), Michael Kempton of Edwardsburg (11-1) and Cody Short of Countryside/LMC (14-2).

The Chieftains’ top entrants will be Jacob Worthington (119), Matt Lyle (130) and Carl Grant (215).

“I am really looking forward to this years Berrien County meet,” Dowagiac coach Matt Alward said. “It gives me a chance to see all of the area’s best wrestlers in one spot.  I feel that this is a great meet for our wrestlers to prepare for the end of the season push.  If you can place high in this meet than you have a good chance to make a run at the state meet.”

Wrestling is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.

Past Berrien County champions

1979 – Lakeshore

1980 – Eau Claire

1981 – Niles

1982 – Lakeshore

1983 – Lakeshore

1984 – Lakeshore

1985 – Lakeshore

1986 – Lakeshore

1987 – Lakeshore

1988 – Lakeshore

1989 – Lakeshore

1990 – Niles

1991 – Lakeshore

1992 – Lakeshore

1993 – St. Joseph

1994 – Lakeshore

1995 – Coloma

1996 – Lakeshore

1997 – cancelled

1998 – Lakeshore

1999 – Lakeshore

2000 – Lakeshore

2001 – Lakeshore

2002 – Lakeshore

2003 – Lakeshore

2004 – Lakeshore

2005 – Lakeshore

2006 – Lakeshore

2007 – Niles

2008 – Lakeshore

2009 – Lakeshore

2010 – Lakeshore

2011 – Lakeshore

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