Indians seek Classic form

Friday, December 15, 2006
Jackson's Perry Hazelwood had the upper hand on Windsor's Kyle Warren in their 135-pound match Thursday night at Jackson High School. Hazelwood won the match. The Indians won the dual with Windsor and will compete in the Tiger Classic, which begins today and ends Saturday. (Fred Lynch)

The Indians have a run of top-four finishes in the event.

Jackson's wrestling team is used to eyeing the title at the Tiger Classic wrestling tournament, finishing no lower than fourth place at the event since 1990.

The Indians' streak of top-four finishes could be in jeopardy this year, as Jackson faces a rebuilding season with no returning state qualifiers and a young, inexperienced squad.

Wrestling will begin at 5 p.m. today at Central Junior High in the 33rd Tiger Classic. The event will continue at 9 a.m. on Saturday, with the championship round tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday.

"We're not in a situation we've been in in the past," Jackson coach Steve Wachter said. "We have to readjust our goals, what we want to achieve."

Jackson won back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004 and finished fourth last year. The Indians have just three titles since their streak of top-four finishes began but have finished second seven times during that span.

"We have too much youth to make that run [at the title]," Wachter said. "You have to be realistic what your goals are. What we're trying to do is be the best we can be."

While the Indians have had at least one individual champion in each of the past 10 years, it is host Central which returns a champion. Tigers senior Tyler Yeargain won the title at 130 pounds last year with an 8-7 decision. It was the first individual title under coach Josh Crowell and the first for a Central wrestler in 11 years.

"He's in a tough weight class this year," Crowell said. "Tyler will have his work cut out for him."

Yeargain is one of two returning all-state wrestlers for the Tigers, along with Garrett New. Matt Latham also returns after qualifying for the state meet last year.

Central will try to improve on its 16th-place finish last year. The Tigers have five seniors on their roster, but are still a relatively young squad.

"One thing I always tell the kids is it's great for us to host this event and show off the district, high school and community, but when we step on that mat it's time to get to work and get after it," Crowell said. "We're here to win, that's what we're striving for. It's nice to host this event, but it would be nicer to win it."

Memphis Christian Brothers and defending champion Northwest are among the favorites in the 20-team event. Fort Zumwalt North is also expected to be among the contenders.

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