Area teams ready for regionalsPublished 9:03am Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Niles, Edwardsburg, Buchanan and Bobcats in action tonight
A trip to Battle Creek and the Michigan High School Athletic Association Wrestling Team Finals hangs in the balance tonight.
Niles, ranked No. 4 in the latest Michigan Grappler Division 2 poll, will be making a bid for a second consecutive trip to the Kellogg Arena and the state quarterfinals.
Edwardsburg, who was eliminated in the regional finals by the Vikings in 2013, are hoping to make its first trip to the finals.
Brandywine is coming off its ninth straight district title, but the Bobcats have not reached Battle Creek since 1998.
Niles is coming off a successful individual weekend where it qualified 11 wrestlers for Saturday’s regional in Mason.
Edwardsburg advanced six wrestlers to the individual regional.
The Vikings and Eddies have not faced each other this season and won’t unless both advance to the finals tonight.
Niles will open up with Wolverine Conference runner-up Three Rivers at 6 p.m., while the Eddies, who shared second place with the Wildcats, will face Battle Creek Central, which finished fifth in the Big 16 Conference, in the other semifinal at 6 p.m.
The winners will square off 10 minutes after the completion of the last semifinal.
“After seeing Three Rivers Saturday, they are very solid throughout the lineup, the same as Edwardsburg,” Niles coach Todd Hesson said. “Both duals we need to stay off our backs. Not give up pins and get some bonus points along the way. Each of our wrestlers will have a job to do, whether it is staying off their back, getting a pin or wrestling smart and just picking up a win.
“We have won most of our duals with overall balance and again, not giving up pins. I would like to think having been there before, that experience may work to our advantage.”
The Vikings will be led by district champions Darek Bullock-Mills (30-5) and Warren Smith (29-8) at 135- and 140-pounds respectively. Other top wrestlers for Niles are Andrew Flick (27-7) at 103, Brendon Meek (24-9) at 112, Josh Dayhuff (29-8) at 119, Noah Hall (31-5) at 135 and Wyatt Thornton (23-5) at 215 — all of whom finished second at Saturday’s district tournament.
Top Three Rivers wrestlers are district champions Dallas Recker (39-2) at 285 and Connor McElroy (31-8) at 140.
The Eddies are led by district champion Michael Higley (35-1) at 103, Hunter Vargo (33-8) at 119, Dustin Vires (33-11) at 125 and Blake Parsons (27-6) at 189.
Kalamazoo Central’s top grapplers are Kenny Grayer (29-12) at 152, Jacob Taylor (36-5) at 171 and Jace Trevino (36-3) at 285.
Buchanan faces a tall challenge at Allegan.