Area’s best wrestlers gatheringPublished 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