Getting a large crowd into Brighton High School’s auxiliary gym won’t be a problem tonight as the Bulldogs play host to Hartland in a wrestling dual.
Collecting points, for either team, is expected to be a struggle.
Brighton, ranked No. 4 in the latest coaches poll, and No. 6 Hartland meet tonight in Brighton’s only home match of the season, which will also be senior night.
The evenings events begin with JV matches at 5:30 along with exhibitions involving younger wrestlers. The varsity match is set to begin at 7 p.m. It will be broadcast on The Livingston Post starting at 6:50.
“You never know how these match-ups shake out beforehand,” Brighton coach Tony Greathouse said. “But there will be a handful of pretty highly touted match-ups, and it’s going to be really competitive at every weight, I think.”
Hartland coach Todd Cheney says bonus points will likely decide the match. Decisions are worth three points, while major decisions (four), technical falls (five points and pins (six) are considered bonus points.
“Where we’ve made kind of a killing over the years is, in the matches when we lose, it’s only by a decision,” he said. “The worst possible thing is if you get pinned and lose six points. Over the years, we’ve been successful in that we get a lot of bonus points. Tonight, the team that gets a lot of bonus points will come out on top.”
Tonight’s match is the latest in a series that has seen both teams win state titles in the past five seasons and foster a healthy rivalry between the squads.
“There’s a lot of familiarity between our programs,” Greathouse said. “In the offseason, a lot of guys wrestle together, they got to a lot of offseason camps and tournaments, and our coaching staffs know each other really well.
“I think with that, and the fact that over the last five years I’ve been here, and before that we’re both perennial top 5, top 10 teams in Division 1, it’s created a cool, friendly rivalry.”
All that said, there will be no shortage of competitiveness between the teams, whose first goal is winning the KLAA title.
The match is in the auxiliary gym by design. A match was moved there due to a scheduling conflict at the fieldhouse a couple years back, and the more intimate setting of the gym proved ideal to wresters and fans alike.
“In the fieldhouse, even if we have a decent crowd the fieldhouse kind of swallows it up a bit,” Greathouse said. “We can turn lights off and have a spotlight and we can do more stuff to make it fan-friendly. The kids only get a few years to wrestle in high school and compete, and we want to take as many opportunities as we can to make it a memorable experience for them.”
And there are few things in high school sports as dramatic as the turns of events in wrestling, where no lead is considered safe and a match can turn on a dime.
Points, too, will be precious.
“That’s how it usually works,” Greathouse said. “We’re excited. It should be a fun night.”