Rockford wrestlers take on state’s best

Jake Byers receives one of his six near-falls against Jenison on December 16.

Jake Byers receives one of his six near-falls against Jenison on December 16. Photo by JIM COOPER

On Wednesday, Dec. 16, the Rockford Rams wrestling team traveled to Jenison for a dual meet against Division I’s 10th-ranked team.

In the 130-pound match, Rockford senior Jake Byers once again showed his dominance, this time wrestling against Jenison’s Nick Lovell. In typical fashion, Byers scored early and often on his way to winning a 17-1 technical fall, giving the Rams an early lead in the team score.

The next two matches saw Drew Scogg (135 pounds) and younger brother Austin Scogg (140) fall to their opponents in minor decisions, giving the Wildcats their first lead of the dual meet, with a 6-5 team score. At 145 pounds, Bruce Carlstrom used 2:43 seconds to pin Caleb Wyma and help the Rams recover the lead, 11-6. At 152 pounds, the Wildcats closed the gap with a 15-6 Trevor Dunham win over Rockford’s Sam Williams.

Joe Stefanski stacks his Wildcat opponent on December 16.

Joe Stefanski stacks his Wildcat opponent on December 16. Photo by JIM COOPER

At 160 pounds, Mitch Pierce scored an exciting 4-2 overtime win over Rockford’s Robby Gorton to give Jenison a 13-11 lead, which would prove to be their final lead of the meet. Rockford’s Jake Dorulla (171) and Jake Johnson, wrestling up at 189 pounds, scored back-to-back technical falls, giving the Rams a 21-13 lead.

Rockford continued building their lead with a 5-1 decision by Zach Banaszak over Jenison’s Pat Rieg, and an 18-second pin by Joe Stefanski over Matt VanOpstall, giving the Rams a 30-13 lead with four matches left to be wrestled.

Robby Gorton attempts to boot a Jenison wrestler.

Robby Gorton attempts to boot a Jenison wrestler. Photo by JIM COOPER

Jenison voided the 103-pound weight class, allowing Rockford to use Tyler VanRooyen at 112 pounds against Jenison’s Trent Samuels, who was ranked second in Division I. VanRooyen, who was ranked fourth in the state at 103 pounds, fell behind when Samuels was awarded an early takedown. VanRooyen scored his first point when he escaped late in the first period. The second period ended with the score still 2-1, as neither wrestler could gain an advantage.

In the third, Rockford’s “Mighty Mite” escaped for one point, tying the score at 2 each. As time was running out, VanRooyen met the challenge, taking Samuels down and giving him a 4-2 advantage. Samuels received the final point of the match on a technical violation when VanRooyen illegally locked his hands. This gave Rockford a 39-13 lead with two matches remaining.

Tyler VanRooyen receives a near-fall at the Tim Horn Invitational in Holland on December 19.

Tyler VanRooyen receives a near-fall at the Tim Horn Invitational in Holland on December 19. Photo by JIM COOPER

Cullen Maksimowski scored Rockford’s final points by defeating Jenison’s Austin Stine 5-4. In the final match of the evening, at 125 pounds, Chris Barrentine lost to Dylan Wyngartden by fall in 1:45, making the final score Rockford 42, Jenison 19.

“We finally got the effort we’ve been looking for. Drew and Austin Scogg really came up big, even though they lost,” said Coach Brian Richardson. “It was a nice effort by VanRooyen and Maksimowski. Our big guns in the upper weights did their job, even though Jake Dorulla is not 100 percent. We’re getting better, but we’re not as good as we can be.”

On Saturday, Dec. 19, Rockford traveled the snow-covered roads to Holland for the Tim Horn Invitational. Several of Michigan’s top-ranked teams made appearances in this high profile tournament.

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