Former teammates face off in rivalry match

Taylor Massa and Jordan Wohlfert have been on the same wrestling team since they were four years old — until Sunday, that is.

Massa, a 165-pound freshman for Michigan and his Wolverines defeated MSU its 174-pound freshman Wohlfert.

Both are from St. Johns, Mich., and went to St. Johns High School.

After winning four straight state championship in high school, and finishing with a 231-0 prep record, Massa went to U-M as the No. 2 overall recruit, according to InterMat.

“It’s different seeing (Wohlfert) on the other side of the bench, but we’re still good friends and teammates forever,” Massa said. “Even if we’re wearing the exact opposite colors.”

Wohlfert won a pair of state championships at St. Johns and was ranked No. 16 by InterMat before coming to MSU.

He said even though the two didn’t get a chance to wrestle on Sunday, it was nice to feel the competitive juices flowing between friends once again.

“We’ve always been competing with each other,” Wohlfert said. “It would’ve been nice if our team could’ve came out on top so I had something to hold over his head.”

The loss marked the third straight year U-M defeated MSU.

Head coach Tom Minkel said he had to calm the team down before the meet started because they were so wound up.

“A lot of these people are former high school teammates that are now on the opposing team,” he said. “You have a big crowd. Half in blue and gold, half in green and white, things get a little chippy.”

Minkel has been at the helm of the MSU wrestling team for 21 years and said the emotion of the U-M/MSU rivalry has penetrated his own home.

“You’re really close to these guys in one way, and at the same time you have this bad blood thing because it’s Michigan/Michigan State,” Minkel said. “I’ve been here for a long time at Michigan State, and my daughter went to (the) University of Michigan. She roots for Michigan, except in wrestling, so you get all that emotion.”

Wohlfert and Massa both said they try to keep tabs on how their former teammates are doing because they have a special bond from wrestling together.

“I see how they’re doing overall, and that’s about it,” Wohlfert said. “There will be a few that I’ll stay in touch with, and if they want to talk about stuff I’ll be there for them. … I still want them to do well.”

The feelings between U-M and MSU are nothing like those that came out against Iowa a few weeks ago, but Minkel said there’s still some “hatred” between the Spartans and Wolverines.

“I recruited a lot of their wrestlers down there,” Minkel said. “They’re great kids, and it’s a great school, but at the same time it’s fun to hate them too.”

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