The state-ranked Indians supplement their varsity lineup with successful junior varsity wrestlers.
The Jackson wrestling team has won the Tiger Classic two years in a row and has finished in the top two five straight years.
Over the past 15 years, the Indians have not finished lower than fourth at the Tiger Classic.
Among the many sources of stability for Jackson's strong wrestling program is a junior varsity team which has won 137 straight dual matches since 1991.
"A good junior varsity program adds depth to your room and makes your room more competitive," Jackson coach Steve Wachter said. "The more competitive your room is, it's going to have a positive effect on your varsity."
The Tiger Classic will begin today at 5 p.m. at Central Junior High. Wrestling will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday with the championship round scheduled for approximately 6:30 p.m.
As the Indians approach tonight's Tiger Classic with four returning state qualifiers, several wrestlers who were on the junior varsity last year also hope to contribute to a possible third straight title.
Wrestlers like Cole Jansen and Anthony Werner should play big roles for the Indians this year after wrestling primarily on JV last year. Jansen was 29-0 for the JV, and Werner was 27-2.
"The ones that have come up have done really well at the varsity level," Wachter said.
While the Indians have plugged some holes with JV wrestlers, for the most part Jackson has a veteran squad.
Kamden Rampley leads the way for the Indians this year coming off a third-place finish at the state meet.
Rampley, a senior, wrestled at 189 pounds last year -- he was one of Jackson's two Tiger Classic champions last year -- but is wrestling at 215 pounds this year. Rampley has a tournament title already at 215 pounds this year at the Parkway South tournament and will try to extend Jackson's 12-year streak of having at least one individual champion at the Tiger Classic.
"Kamden's wrestled really well. I'd like to think he has a shot at a title," Wachter said. "Through our middle weights it will be really, really tough."
Returning state qualifiers Jamie Schumacher, Josh Schumacher and Justin Miller, along with seniors Ben McMillian and Sean Gant, should help the Indians finish high in the team standing.
"We've been real fortunate in winning two titles in a row. We feel real fortunate and proud we've done that," Wachter said. "The third one will be really tough to do. Northwest has an outstanding team and has a huge edge on the field."
Northwest, which finished fifth in Class 4 at the state meet last year, is currently ranked No. 3 in Class 4 according to rankings at Missouriwrestling.com, while Jackson is ranked No. 8. Ste. Genevieve is ranked No. 2 in Class 2. Other teams to watch in the field include Seckman and Fort Zumwalt North.
Along with a host of strong teams, there will also be plenty of strong weight classes to watch. The bracket at 189 pounds includes three wrestlers who finished third or better at the state meet last year.
"There's going to be some weight classes that will be really tough, with state qualifiers, state placers and some outstanding matchups," said Central coach Josh Crowell, who also is the director of the Tiger Classic.
After struggling through injuries and illness in the early going, the host Tigers should be healthy for the Classic. Returning state qualifiers Tyler Yeargain, Matt Latham and Garrett New, along with Chris Griffith, should compete for spots in the final round for Central.
"We have some guys we're looking to do really well, and some guys to see how they stack up," Crowell said.
Central finished 15th as a team last year.
"Since we host it, we want our kids to do well," Crowell said. "It is something for our team to see where we're at."