In honor of the 2017 MI Grappler Dream Team being unveiled yesterday, we decided to dig up an article from the very first edition of the Dream Team during MIG's inaugural season. Justin Zeerip was Wrestler of the Year in 2007, and got a full feature article written by Tony Greathouse. Enjoy!
Also be on the lookout for more throwbacks during the offseason as we uncover some memorable articles, fun features, videos, etc... for you all to see from the #GrapplerVault.
Justin Zeerip is MI Grappler Prep Wrestler of The Year
Originally published June 8, 2007
The accomplishments of Justin Zeerip keep piling up. After the senior capped off one of if not the best high school career in Michigan history which included 260 wins, 0 losses, and 4 state titles, Zeerip has placed 3rd at senior nationals and won the Michigan “Mr. Wrestler” and Dave Schultz awards, among others. You can now add another award to that list as Michigan Grappler has announced Justin Zeerip of Hesperia as the 2007 High School Wrestler of The Year.
Zeerip won the Division 4 160lb state crown this year to make it 4 and finish his career perfect. He went out in fashion, dominating his opponents at The Palace with 3 pins and a technical fall en route to the championship. Following his finals fall over Nathan Kulas of Springport the Auburn Hills crowd gave Zeerip a standing ovation as he stepped off the mats on The Palace floor for the final time in his high school career.
“I was thrilled after my finals match at The Palace. I felt rewarded for all of my hard work and that I had accomplished my goals for high school, the atmosphere and the crowd were awesome,” said Zeerip about the moment.
Despite his storybook prep career, there have been many critics of Zeerip thoughout his career because of something that Justin cannot control, his place of residence. His high school, Hesperia, is a smaller community and places them in Division 4 of MHSAA wrestling. While this division has produced many amazing individuals, some would argue that it is not as deep as the other 3 divisions in Michigan.
The only way for Zeerip to quiet these critics was to compete at the NHSCA Senior Nationals, and he did. He stormed through the preliminary rounds to set up a semifinal match with top ranked Colt Sponseller of Ohio. Zeerip lost the match, but proved that he belongs on the national scene as he kept the score close and rallied late in the match before eventually losing 8-5. Sponseller, who will be wrestling for Ohio State in college, would go on to win his final match by major decision and was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler. Zeerip, who was Sponseller's closest match, came back to win his last 2 bouts and claim third.
"I was happy with my performance at senior nationals, I wish that I would have wrestled more offensively in the semifinals, but it will give me something to work for in college," said Zeerip. "I think that I proved to the critics that it doesn’t matter what size school you are from because there are tough wrestlers in each division."
Zeerip seems to have nothing left to prove at the high school level, however, he has signed to wrestle for the University of Michigan and he does have a few things that he wants to accomplish for the Wolverines.
"My goals for college are to be a Big Ten Champion, All-American, and National Champ," said Zeerip.
His goals are set high and there will probably be some people who doubt him, however, the opinions of others have never seemed to slow down Justin Zeerip.
Michigan Grappler who like to congratulate Justin Zeerip on a great high school career and wish him the best of luck throughout the rest of his wrestling expierences.
-Click here to view the Dream Team/Wrestler of the Year poster