On Wednesday, Feb. 25, Rockford High School hosted the High School Regional Wrestling Team Tournament. Rams first faced Grand Haven in a dual meet with the winner advancing to take on the winner of the Jenison and Portage Central dual meets.
With a starting weight of 152 pounds, CJ Scholl of Rockford went to the mat facing Evan Ingalls. With neither wrestler gaining an advantage in the first period, the two grapplers took a 0-0 tie into the second. Early in the second period, Scholl used a stand-up to escape from Ingalls and begin scoring on a regular basis.
Scholl took his opponent to the mat, building a three-point lead before Ingalls was able to score on a reversal. Scholl quickly reversed Ingalls, giving the Ram a 5-2 lead. Ingalls escaped from Scholl, putting both wrestlers back on their feet. The Ram wrestler continued to show his dominance by taking the Buccaneer back to the mat and turning him for a two-point near fall as time expired.
With a 9-3 lead at the start of the third, Scholl continued to build his advantage by taking a stalling point. Scholl used two more takedowns to build a 14-5 advantage and the win, giving the Rams a 4-0 team score.
At 160 pounds, Jake Johnson used two takedowns in the first period against Taylor Collard, giving him a 4-1 advantage after two minutes. In the second, Johnson reversed Collard for two points before giving up a second point to Collard for stalling. In the third, Johnson took Collard to the mat three times, releasing him each time, giving Johnson a 12-5 victory. The team score stood 7-0 for Rams.
Jake Dorulla (171) placed his number-one ranking on the line against Grand Haven’s number-three-ranked Chris Lucas. In the first period, Dorulla showed why he’s held the number-one spot in the state all season. Using a single leg at the whistle to score a two-point takedown, Dorulla quickly turned Lucas for a three-point near fall. Lucas was able to scramble away from a pinning situation only to have Dorulla turn him again for a two-point near fall as time ran out.
In the second, Dorulla started on the bottom, escaping from Lucas and building an 8-0 lead. Dorulla took Lucas to the mat and released him twice more during this period, increasing his advantage to 12-2. The third period found the Buccaneer wrestler in the down position where Dorulla released him only to take him back to the mat. Dorulla, leading 12-3, took the Grand Haven wrestler down and released him for the final scores of the match in a 14-4 major decision.
With the Rams leading 11-0, Zach Banazak (189), filling in for injured Jarod Dubay, again showed the depth of the Rockford wrestling program. Using a slow and methodical pace, Banazak took away a 7-0 decision from Josh Nelson of Grand Haven, using two take downs, one near fall and an escape. Banazak has been a consistent point-scorer for the Rams when he has been called upon from his normal B team spot.
In the 215-pound match, Joe Stefanski again showed why he is a force to be reckoned with. Using just 1:34 to dispose of the Buccaneer’s Tyler Rose with a fall, Stefanski continued the Ram dominance and built the team score to 20-0.
In like fashion, Jesse Somsel (285) took Dan Nevins to the mat three times, releasing him twice and then pinning him in 1:05 to bring the team score 26-0, Rams.
At 103 pounds, Tyler VanRooyen faced Josh Juchartz. Early in the first period, the Buccaneer wrestler accomplished something that none of his teammates have been able to: he took a Ram wrestler down for a two-point lead. VanRooyen recovered quickly and reversed Juchartz to even the score at 2-2.
The second period started with VanRooyen in the referee’s position. Using a sit-out switch, VanRooyen gained the reversal and turned Juchartz’s shoulders to the mat for a two-point near fall. The Grand Haven wrestler squirmed back to his stomach and escaped from VanRooyen for one point. VanRooyen took Juchartz off his feet for two points and again turned him for a three-point near fall and an 11-3 lead going into the third.
Juchartz chose the down position and reversed VanRooyen, cutting into the Ram lead 11-5. VanRooyen was unfazed and reversed his opponent, again turning Juchartz to the mat for a two-point near fall and a 15-5 final match score.
At 112 pounds, Charlie Hall received a void, giving the Rams a 36-0 team score advantage.
Top-ranked Kyle Waldo (119) was up next for the Rams, facing Grand Haven’s Rob Williamson. Waldo stayed on track for his fourth state title by pinning Williamson in 1:30.
At 125 pounds, Jake Byers used one second less (1:29) to pin CJ Stock. Team score at this point was 48-0.
Grand Haven finally got on the board with a 1:41 fall in the 130-pound match. Jake Montgomery of Grand Haven pinned Austin Scogg. Scogg struck first, taking Montgomery down to the mat, but his attempted pin was reversed and Montgomery took the victory. Grand Haven trailed 48-6.
Grand Haven’s Colin Bertucci took an 11-4 victory over Rockford’s Robbie Gorton (135), giving Rockford a 48-9 advantage in the team score.
At 140 pounds, it was all Rockford. Topped-ranked Zach Johnson scored a 16-0 technical fall over Pete Cortez. The Rams continued with their insurmountable 53-9 lead with the 145-pound match remaining.
As 11 of the 13 wrestlers before him, Bruce Carlstrom dominated his Buccaneer opponent. Grand Haven’s Jack Dempsey went the full six minutes with Carlstrom, but Carlstrom took away an 11-2 major decision, giving the Rams a final team score of 57-9.
In the second dual meet of the evening, Rockford faced Jenison, who advanced by beating Portage Central 50-19.
Wrestling against the Wildcats began with the 160-pound match between J. Johnson and Trevor Dunten. Johnson showed Jenison why Rockford dominated their first-round opponent. Johnson took his Wildcat down five times in the six-minute match. Johnson took a 10-5 win and a three-point Rockford lead.
Dorulla wasted little time in the 171-pound match, pinning Jenison’s Barry Koistra in 1:23.
Phil Andrus of Jenison moved up one weight class to wrestle Banazak at 189 pounds. Andrus scored the first points of this match with a takedown. Banazak reversed Andrus, however, to tie the score at the end of the first period.
In the second, Banzak received one penalty point and then escaped from Andrus for a 4-2 lead after four minutes. The third period found Andrus scoring four points and a victory for the Wildcats, giving Andrus a score of 5-4 and cutting into the Ram lead 9-3.
Stefanski used 1:56 to pin Jenison’s Jake Zamarripa.
Heavyweight Somsel fought to a 6-2 decision over the Wildcats’ Tommy Basset. Pushing and shoving between two large athletes made for slow action, as is typical of heavyweight wrestlers.
At 103 pounds, Trenton Samuals of Jenison used his six minutes to cut into the 18-3 Rockford lead by defeating VanRooyen 8-4. The Wildcat win narrowed the scoring to 18-6.
Hall (112) wrestled 3:57 before pinning Jenison’s Dylan Wyngarden, upping the Ram total to 24-6.
Waldo (119) won his match in just 0:42, pinning Austin Stine in a short and sweet match.
A struggle followed in the 125-pound match, as Byers wrestled Austin Wyngarden in a battle that saw each wrestler called numerous times for stalling. Byers emerged with a 5-4 decision after six minutes.
In the 130-pound match between Scogg and David Bobeldyk, a Wildcat win emerged after six minutes, as Bobeldyk turned Scogg for a near fall in the only points of the match. At this point Rockford had secured the win, as Jenison needed to pin all Ram wrestlers in order to make up the deficit.
Doug Furness of Jenison continued to cut into the Rockford lead by taking away a 12-4 major decision over Rockford’s Gorton (135). The team score stood at 33-13.
Two familiar foes took to the mat in the 145-pound match. Z. Johnson put an end to Nate Falbe’s high school wrestling career with a pin in 3:45. Falbe was the number-three-ranked wrestler going into individual districts the week before, but failed to advance further. Falbe had only lost four times during the entire season.
In the 145-pound match, Carlstrom faced Jordan Alvarez in a brutal contest. Alvarez took Carlstrom to the mat early and often, building to a 13-5 major decision going into the last match of the evening.
At 152 pounds, Scholl and his fireman’s carry finished Aaron Strelecki. Scholl carried a 4-2 into the third after escaping Strelecki. With time running out, Scholl hit his signature move and a 6-2 victory. The final team score was 42-17.
On Saturday, Feb. 28, 11 proud Ram wrestlers invaded the Magic Johnson gymnasium at Everet High School for the regional championships and a chance at going to the Palace of Auburn Hills for the state finals. Eight of the 11 boys wrestled for regional championship with only three, VanRooyen, Carlstrom and Hall, coming up just short.
Winning regional championships was Waldo (119) with his fourth; Byers (125), who defeated Cameron Olson of Kentwood for the sixth time this season – Olson has only 12 losses for the season, six to Byers; Z. Johnson (140), who avenged a previous loss to Amir Al-Gharib of Kalamazoo Central, for his second regional championship; J. Johnson, who won his first regional championship at 160 pounds with an 8-5 decision over Josh Shaw of Holt; Dorulla, who defeated Chris Lucas for the fourth time this season with an 8-4 major decision at 171 pounds; and Stefanski, who won a 3-2 decision over James Mireles of Holt for his first regional championship.
Runners up were Scholl (152), losing 10-3 to Koort Leyrer of Holt, and Somsel (heavyweight), who lost for the fourth time to Mike McClure of West Ottawa, 5-0.
Next up is a date with destiny March 6 – 7. Rams will take on the next best in the state at Battle Creek’s Kellogg Arena for the state team championships. Starting at 3:15 p.m., the Rams will wrestle Roseville. If they win, they will advance to the semifinals at 9:45 a.m. Saturday morning. While the Rams wrestle as a team this week, the individuals will wrestle in Auburn Hills starting on Thursday, March 12.
Fans and families are reminded of the celebration of Coach Rinehart’s career on Friday, March 20 at the Corner Bar, downtown Rockford. All fans, friends and wrestling family members are welcome.