Gaylord, Hart and Pine River are all preparing for the MHSAA team quarterfinals on Friday at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.
Here is a look at the upcoming quarterfinal matchups for the three local programs in their respective divisions:
Division 2: Gaylord vs. Monroe Jefferson
The Gaylord wrestling team is coming off its first regional title since 2019 following a 34-29 win over Bay City John Glen. The Blue Devils will face Monroe Jefferson is making its second straight quarterfinals appearance after a trip to the state semifinal match last year.
“Do your job. Everybody did their job and I tell you what, we haven’t had the same lineup in all year. These kids came through,” said Gaylord wrestling head coach Jerry LaJoie.
“I feel like we’re having a lot of fun right now. We’re not getting stressed out like sometimes we do. Just have fun, there’s no pressure. We’re not supposed to win it so let’s just wrestle like we can,” said Gaylord senior Ty Bensinger.
Gaylord had its postseason run end in regionals last season due to COVID-19, snapping a three-year streak of making it to the state tournament.
The Blue Devils have made it to the state semifinals five times since 2015, including a pair of state championship appearances in 2018 and 2020. They fell to Lowell in their last three appearances in the state tournament.
This season, Gaylord returned a team ranked second in the preseason poll and went on to secure its sixth regional title in eight years.
The Blue Devils will have 6 total wrestlers competing at the individual state finals at Ford Field March 4-5.
Gaylord will face Monroe Jefferson on Friday at 6:45 p.m.
Division 3 : Hart vs. Imlay City
Hart wrestling is making its third straight quarterfinals and will seek the first ever state semifinals appearance in program history.
Last season the Pirates had their run end against the No. 2 seed in Division 3, Whitehall. They lost, 41-23.
After a 30-year absence, Hart returned to the MHSAA team state quarterfinals in the 2019-20 season. Hart is making its ninth overall appearance in the finals after reaching the finals six times between 1980-90.
“We’re the underdog, but not by much. Like I said I think our kids, if we wrestle well, we’ve got as good of a shot as we’ve ever had to get ourselves an opportunity in the semifinals,” said Hart head wrestling coach Brad Atland.
“We’re ready. We’re pumping each other up. We’re fixing each other’s moves. Pointing things out the we should fix. You know, we’re just on top of things this week and we’re going to just focus up,” said Hart senior Leonardo Guadarrama.
In addition to the team state finals, the Pirates are sending four wrestlers to the individual state finals that will take place March 4-5 at Ford Field in Detroit.
Hart will face a tough Imlay City team who took down Richmond 37-31 for thee regional championship.
The match is set for 4:30 p.m.
Division 4: Pine River vs. Hudson
The Pine River wrestling team won 22 matches during the regular season this year on its way to a regional title. The Bucks look to continue that success into their state quarterfinal match against No. 1 seeded Hudson.
This is a rematch for the Bucks who are back in the quarterfinals for the first time since 2019, where they lost Hudson 53-16.
“We kind of know what to expect. They’re gonna be tough and solid kids from the first weight class to the last. You know, so that’s kind of what we’re expecting out of our kids. We just got to show up and be tough. Try to stay in close matches and give ourselves a chance in the end,” said Pine River head wrestling coach Terry Martin.
“I’m really proud because we had some seniors we lost last year and we started off with a lot of injuries and sickness this year. And we’re hopefully going to come out on top,” said Pine River senior Ryder Holmes.
Last year they fell to Whittemore-Prescott 36-31 in the regional final. Before that, Pine River lost in the district semifinal to Hart in Div. 4.
The Bucks will have a tough test in Hudson, who was a state runner-up season in 2020 and a three-time state champion from 2017-2019. The Tigers were a three-time runner-up prior to their state title run.
Hudson also won five straight state title from 2009-2013. They will be seeking their ninth overall state championship trophy in program history.
Pine River’s best finish in school history was as 1991 Class C state runners-up behind New Lothrop.
The team will also have 8 wrestlers compete in the individual state championship next week.
The teams face off on Friday afternoon at 12 p.m.