WHITEHALL, Mich. — For six of the last 7 years, Whitehall wrestling has competed in the team state tournament. Last year, they had their best finish yet as the D3 state runner ups. This year in D2 the Vikings to bring home their first state title in school history.
"Being the new guys in D2, we're just looking to earn some respect in that division," said senior wrestler Max Brown.
"Can't say that I was surprised that we went back up but it's just about not changing what we do I guess. We just keep working hard and um, doing what we do," said senior Ira Jenkins.
The Vikings are the #2 seed in this years tournament. Right behind another West Michigan powerhouse, Lowell. Head Coach Justin Zeerip (Zair-up) says their 2nd place finish in 2021 is still in the back of their minds as they head back to Kalamazoo.
"We definitely use it as a motivator to try to improve on our finish from last year. We just want to get, improve on one match at a time. But it's definitely in the back of our minds and we just wanna just have great team state tournament here coming up," said Zeerip.
"Second's not the best thing but we were still proud to do that. We were the first to do that for our school. So I think being about to get a state title this year is something that everybody's keeping in mind as they're working," said Jenkins.
Whitehall punched their ticket to state with a 43-18 win over Allendale. They dropped the opening match in a decision but battled back. Ira Jenkins had pins in both his regional matches and Max Brown was the second of three pins that helped secure the win.
"We started off strong, kind of went down in the middle but we came out and ended strong with I think three or four pins in a row. But I think seeing a close match like that is just getting us ready for the close matches we're going to be a part of so I think it's going to help us in the long run," said Brown.
The Vikings will take on the No. 5 seed St. Joseph team in the state quarterfinal. Brown and the team hope that they'll be coming back to Muskegon County with the championship trophy by the weekend.
It'd be great, ya know it's kind of what we've always been looking forward to and it's what we train for up here and just to bring that back to the community and leaving a legacy here would be awesome," said Brown.