EATON RAPIDS – Joe Ray Barry knows his Eaton Rapids wrestling program is one of the most decorated in mid-Michigan.
It’s just been awhile since the Greyhounds have had a chance to add to their collection of state titles.
Eaton Rapids is trying to change that and can get closer to that goal in Wednesday’s Division 2 regional at DeWitt.
“This has been a four-year goal that we’ve been working on since I got here,” Barry said of the Greyhounds’ mission to get to Battle Creek for the final stages of the state tournament. “Every day when we break down and every day when we leave, that’s what we say and that’s what we’re thinking about. It’s four years ago and now it’s even closer and closer.”
The No. 4-ranked Greyhounds (36-2) will have to get through a tough regional to get to Battle Creek for the first time since 2009 and stay in the running for their first state title since 1999. Top-ranked St. Johns, which has won four of the last five Division 2 state titles, could loom in Wednesday’s regional final if Eaton Rapids gets past No. 9-ranked Mason in its opener.
“To get St. Johns would be very big and that’s what we’ve wanted all year,” said senior Jaedin Sklapsky, who picked up a key win to help the Greyhounds beat No. 5 DeWitt in last week’s district final.
Eaton Rapids, which was the state runner-up in 2008, has had its run stopped in the regional the past two seasons. It fell to Byron Center in the semifinal last year and to Chelsea in 2013.
But the Greyhounds believe this is their year and are prepared for challenges against the other top teams in Division 2.
“We’ve got some big shoes to beat there with St. Johns being in our region and Mason,” Barry said. “We’re ready. We’ve trained, we’ve done everything we needed to do to this point.
“Other than our draw at regionals, we’ve wrestled top teams. Our only two losses are to Brighton and Walled Lake Central. We’ve seen tough competition all year long. We’ve tried to wrestle the east side of the state and the west and we try to pick out the best Division 3 schools to your best Division 1s.”
Eaton Rapids, St. Johns and Mason are among 10 from mid-Michigan competing in regionals Wednesday.
CAAC Blue champion and No. 9 Grand Ledge faces host Holt in a Division 1 regional semifinal with the winner possibly facing top-ranked Brighton for the title. Williamston, Alma and Corunna each remain alive in Division 3, while No. 9 Carson City-Crystal and Dansville are in the same Division 4 regional as top-ranked New Lothrop.
All matches are Wednesday
DIVISION 1 AT HOLT
Portage Northern vs. Brighton
Grand Ledge vs. Holt
DIVISION 2 AT DEWITT
St. Johns vs. Chelsea
Eaton Rapids vs. Mason
DIVISION 3 AT GRANT
Alma vs. Whitehall
Remus Chippewa Hills vs. Howard City Tri-County
DIVISION 3 AT DURAND
Lake Fenton vs. Williamston
Birch Run vs. Corunna
DIVISION 4 AT NEW LOTHROP
Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary vs. Carson City-Crystal
New Lothrop vs. Dansville