Havelock High senior wrestler John Ellis doesn’t like to think about time off from his sport.
“We get a couple of weeks of break, but then we want to get back into it,” he said. “It’s like an addiction.”
Then it’s probably a good thing that Ellis will get the opportunity to wrestle for four more years after signing with Alma College on Friday at Havelock High.
The college is located in Alma, Mich., about 60 miles north of the capital Lansing. Ellis used to live in Michigan and said that Havelock assistant wrestling coach Chase Holleman was friends with one of Alma’s assistant wrestling coaches.
“I started contacting them when I was trying to find a college where I could wrestle,” Ellis said. “I sent them some highlight videos and some videos of tough matches and was talking to them, and they really wanted me to come up there and wrestle for them.”
He said the school made an instant impression.
“There’s only about 1,400 students up there, and the student to teacher ratio is like 12-to-1, so it’s very student-oriented,” said Ellis, who plans to major in computer science. “That’s one of the best things I liked about it. It’s just so compact and small. You could probably walk across campus in 10 minutes. I like the scenery and I like the town.
“I was talking to one of the guys who was giving us our tour and he said that basically he knew everybody at the college. I like that.”
Ellis said the Division III college had cut its wrestling program but started it again three years ago. Alma had a 7-4 dual team record this past season and finished ninth in the Division III Midwest Regional Tournament.
Ellis said he hoped to break into a senior-laden lineup in his first year.
“I know all the weight classes are stacked with seniors,” he said. “I plan on training all summer so I can show up there and beat someone out of their weight class and start my freshman year.
“If I don’t start, the coach said I could get just as many matches as the varsity. We travel with the team everywhere they go, so even if I don’t start, I’m still going to get a great experience my freshman year.”
Ellis said the Alma coaches liked his aggressiveness.
“I don’t ever really stop moving,” he said. “It’s the drive I have and the commitment I put towards it.”
Ellis finished among Havelock High’s top 10 in career victories. During his senior season, Ellis went 46-9, winning a regional championship and placing fourth in the state tournament.
As a junior, he won the regional championship in his weight class after a sophomore year in which he won just one match at the regional tournament.
“I came out of nowhere and I ended up winning regionals,” he said, calling his regional title as a junior the highlight of his career. “Nobody knew who I was until that year. And then after that, it felt like everybody knew, ‘Oh shoot. Here’s John. I’ve got to wrestle that guy?’ It felt good to be the underdog.”
Ellis said he would not have accomplished all that he had without the support of his parents.
“They’ve gone to every single wrestling tournament I’ve had,” he said. “Anytime I needed supplies for wrestling, they supplied me with it. They paid for wrestling camps. They’ve been the best."