'Bigger, Stronger, Faster' Greenville Climbing Among Wrestling's Elite
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
January 19, 2023
GREENVILLE – Several factors have contributed to the current success of the Greenville wrestling team.
However, one aspect of the program has been quite noticeable.
“I’ve received compliments by referees and other coaches just about how much bigger, stronger and faster they look now,” Yellow Jackets wrestling coach Brett Peterman said. “Greenville athletics, and the culture with Rick Court and our strength program, has changed. He has done an amazing job of getting the kids into lifting, and we have a great coaching staff."
“A lot of the sports are getting better now because of it, and our strength programs are loaded with kids now lifting, including at the middle school level.”
The Yellow Jackets recently jumped into the top 10 of the Division 2 state rankings after winning their fifth invitational of the season last week at Hudsonville Unity Christian.
An enhanced strength program, coupled with a diligent work ethic by a relatively young group, has signaled a turnaround for the better.
“We just have a great group of kids,” Peterman said. “The kids are coachable, they work hard and we are just seeing the results of that.”
Junior standout Nayte Dobson, who’s currently unbeaten at 24-0 wrestling at 157 and 165 pounds, said Court is a valuable piece to the winning puzzle that has been constructed.
“He always has good enthusiasm and good energy no matter what,” said Dobson, who placed seventh at last year’s Division 2 Individual Finals.
“He gives us time to work out, whether it’s zero hour, or after school. Whenever you want to work out, he’s there. He will come from his house to unlock the doors.”
Court’s workouts are specifically designed to help the wrestlers reach their full potential and give them an advantage.
“He puts us through good workouts that involve speed and acceleration training,” Dobson said. “You can definitely see the bursts we have out on the mat.”
The list of accomplishments so far this season has included wins at the Greenville Invitational, the Hudsonville Invitational, the Unity Christian Invitational, the Fruitport Invitational and the Pinckney Duals.
“There have been some good teams in those tournaments and good challenges for the kids,” Peterman said. “Winning is good, but the work never stops.”
Peterman anticipated success this season, despite the departure of key seniors.
The addition of a large incoming freshman class has boosted numbers and anticipation for the future.
“I thought we could have a good year,” Peterman said. “We had a lot of returners, including a few state qualifiers and some who fell just short.
“They worked hard in the offseason, and with the freshmen coming in, I figured we would be pretty good. I was amazed that we had 23 freshmen come in. That’s a big group.”
The Yellow Jackets possess talent up and down the weight classes, with several wrestlers posting impressive records.
Sophomore Caleb Lewis, a backup last season, has emerged and is 26-0 at 106 pounds.
Other top performers include junior Liam Dailey (23-2) at 138/144 pounds, sophomore Case Johnson (24-2) at 215 pounds, sophomore Kamden Witte (23-3) at 113 pounds and freshman Alex Buskirk (26-1) at 126 pounds.
“We are a very young team, but they’ve come in with a chip on their shoulder and they are working hard every day,” Dobson said. “How they work in the wrestling loft is showing out on the mat right now, and we are just giving them guidance and helping them out when we can.
“I expected this, and I knew this was going to be a good year for us because of the guys coming back and the freshmen.”
The Yellow Jackets will wrestle at the Ottawa-Kent Conference White championships, against a field that includes eight-time reigning team champion Lowell.
“It’s tough when you have a powerhouse like Lowell in your conference,” Peterman said. “There’s a possibility that we will see them several times in the upcoming weeks, and it will be a big challenge. We are going to do what’s right for the team on Friday and see how the results come about.”
The Red Arrows provide Greenville with a measuring stick, and they are eager to see how they fare against the best in the state.
“Lowell is just stacked all around and it’s going to be tough, but we also have to get through Byron Center, which has gone both ways this season,” Dobson said. “If we can see improvement from last year’s Districts to now against Lowell, then it gives us a good checkpoint of where we are at.”
Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Greenville wrestler Isaac Daily celebrates a win during a match this season. (Middle) Yellow Jackets coach Brett Peterman guides one of his competitors. (Below) Greenville's Troy Courtney takes down an opponent. (Photos by Jamie McNinch Photography.)