Sixty-two young men start the season for the Rockford wrestling team this year. Notable returning wrestlers are Jake Byers and Jake Johnson, both runners-up from last year’s individual state tournament, along with defending state champions Jake Dorulla and Joe Stefanski. All four seniors have verbally committed to wrestle for Eastern Michigan University next year. Joining them will be regional qualifiers junior Bruce Carlstrom and sophomores Tyler VanRooyen and Austin Scogg.
Prior to the first tournament, the Rams squared off in the annual Orange and Black, a dual meet to showcase Ram depth on the mat. Fourteen matches at Rockford High School on Thursday, Dec. 3, decided who would be in the starting lineup.
The first competition away from Rockford was held Saturday, Dec. 5 at Comstock Park. The Rams faced Central Montcalm in the opener. In typical dominant fashion, Rockford opened a 36-3 lead midway through the match, and recorded a total of six falls, winning 11 of 13 matches for a final score of 65-9.
In the second round, Rockford squared off against East Grand Rapids, dominating the Pioneers by winning all 14 matches with a final score of 78-0.
Round three saw the Rams face a tough Coopersville team. Rockford won nine of 14 in this one, finishing with a final score of 46-24.
In the finals, Rockford faced an inspired team from Comstock Park who advanced by beating Wyoming Park, Spring Lake and Belding. In a dual meet that saw the lead change many times, Rockford fought hard but came up short in the end.
Jake Byers, 130 pounds this year, showed true senior leadership in recording three falls in the day while wrestling for less than two minutes. Each pin came in less than 30 seconds of the first period.
Bruce Carlstrom, 152 pounds, also showed dominance by winning four times with one fall, one technical fall and one major decision on the day.
Sophomore Tyler Van Rooyen, 103 pounds, showed why he’s ready to make a splash for Rockford by also recording four pins.
Sophomore Austin Scogg pinned four opponents with his typical solid leg wrestling. He was able to defeat all comers.
Senior Jake Johnson, 160 pounds, showed why he is the top-ranked wrestler in his weight class in the state as he pinned all four of his opponents while wrestling one weight class up at 171 pounds.
If Rockford had not been short several key wrestlers, the final outcome in this one would likely have been different, as the Rams fell to the Panthers 35-32. The loss was likely a shock to wrestling fans as this was a tournament that Rockford traditionally wins.
Next up for the Rams will be Hudsonville on Wednesday, Dec. 9 at home at
7 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 12, the Rams will participate in the 36th annual Kent County Classic wrestling tournament at Grand Rapids Union starting at 9 a.m. This tournament features many of the top-ranked wrestlers in the area as well as the rest of the state.