Three Rockford wrestlers remain undefeated for season
by TIM COOPER
On Wednesday, Jan. 20, it was short and ugly in the Rams’ favor when Rockford traveled to the lakeshore to take on the Big Reds in wrestling action. Five voids gave the Rams 30 points on the team score before the dual meet wrestling action even started, and the Rams continued on, winning nine of the 13 remaining matches.
Pins and technical falls dominated the action against Muskegon wrestlers, with Rams taking six falls and three technical falls en route to a 76-3 thumping.
The dual meet took approximately 45 minutes from start to finish. Recording pins for Rockford were Cullen Maksimowski (119 pounds) with a fall at 2:44. Bruce Carlstrom (152) won with a fall in 55 seconds. Solomon Gant (160) won by fall in 1:10. Jake Dorulla (171) took a 12-0 lead into the second period before winning by fall in 3:04. Zach Nelson, stepping in from the B team at 215 pounds, in the shortest match of the night, used just 25 seconds to pin his opponent. Joe Stefanski, jumping up one weight class to wrestle at 285 pounds, finished his Big Red opponent in 3:54, giving the Rams a final victory of 76-3.
On Saturday, Jan. 23, the Rams traveled to Holt for an individual tournament which is typically one of the toughest competitions any wrestler will have during the season. With four of the top 10 Division I teams in the state and 16 teams competing, nearly 200 wrestlers were hitting the mats, including one team from Cincinnati, Ohio.
Rockford stayed near the top of the team standings all day long. At one point, the Rams dropped as low as fifth, but bounced back by placing six wrestlers in the championship finals and four others winning medals.
Sixth-place finishers for the Rams were sophomore Austin Scogg (140), sophomore Tyler VanRooyen (103), and freshman Nate Rojas (112). Carlstrom (152) chipped in with a third-place finish.
In the championship bracket, Jacob Scholten, wrestling up at 125, took on the number-one-ranked Alec Morraidian of Detroit Catholic Central. Scholten, who was debuting for the Rams at this tournament, put up a great fight against the defending 112-pound state champion in Division I. Scholten is a recent transfer to the Rams program from Grandville, where he was a state-qualifier last year. Neither wrestler was able to gain any advantage in the first period.
Scoring started with an escape by Morraidian early in the second period. Neither wrestler was able to force the other into a takedown. The score remained 1-0, Morraidian, after four minutes.
In the third, Scholten worked tirelessly for an escape to tie the score, but found himself frustrated by Morraidian’s counters. As time ran out, a desperate Scholten allowed himself to be turned to the mat for a two-point near-fall, giving Morraidian a 3-0 win and Scholten a second-place medal.
In the 130-pound finals, Rockford again faced a Detroit Catholic Central opponent, this time Jake Byers wrestling Charlie Joseph. Byers took the early advantage on a two-point takedown and rode Joseph for the remaining minute-and-a-half of the first period.
In the second, Byers chose the down position and escaped Joseph, following quickly with another takedown to build his score to 5-0 over the Shamrock grappler. In the third, Byers continued to score with a one-point stalling call before giving Joseph his first point of the match. With both wrestlers back on their feet, Byers again took Joseph to the mat, bringing Byers to an 8-1 lead before Joseph mounted any real offenses with a reversal. At the end of the third, Byers walked away with an 8-3 victory, remaining undefeated for the season and adding another championship to his credit.
At 171 pounds, defending state champion Dorulla stepped to the mat to face Holt’s Mike Andering. Opponents for the third time in the past two seasons, Dorulla and Andering’s matches have always been exciting to watch as both wrestlers are highly skilled.
Dorulla struck first with a takedown and two points, only to be countered by Andering’s reversal, tying the score. With the score knotted at two each in the second, Andering escaped Dorulla, gaining a 3-2 advantage. Dorulla responded by taking Andering back to the mat and reclaiming the lead at 4-3.
Andering again stood to tie the score at 4-4, only to have Dorulla take a two-point advantage with another takedown, giving him a 6-4 lead. With time running out in the second period, Andering again escaped Dorulla for a point, but still trailed in the match 6-5.
In the third, Dorulla started in the down position and quickly escaped by standing up for his final point of the match. Andering, however, received one point on a stalling call, but time expired with Dorulla claiming the crown with a 7-6 victory to remain unbeaten for the season.
In the 189-pound match, Jake Johnson wrestled an out-of-state opponent from Cincinnati, Ohio’s Princeton High School. In the first round, Johnson used three takedowns to build to a 6-2 lead. In the second, the Ohioan cut the lead in half with an escape. Johnson led 6-3 going into the third, and scored two more points on an escape and one penalty point, while the Princeton wrestler scored three with a takedown and a stalling point. As the dust settled after six minutes, Johnson took a hard-fought 8-65 win and the championship.
Next up for the Rams was Stefanski (215), wrestling Detroit Catholic Central’s Mike Kinnville for the second time this season. This barn-burner ended up with a Stefanski win, despite trailing 4-0 after two periods.
Stefanski started his comeback with an escape in the third period. He continued to score with a two-point single-leg takedown and a near-fall, taking the lead 5-4. Kinnville showed his determination by escaping from Stefanski and tying the score 5-5. With time running out, Stefanski again shot for a takedown and the win, using a double-leg to finish the comeback and a 7-5 win.
Coach Richardson said, “The kids wrestled very well. We got an extra gear from Jake Scholten. He’s going to prove to be a valuable tool. We expect so much from the four Jakes and Joe. I’m real proud of the way my boys wrestled today, especially with two guys leaving early because of injury.”
Nelson left with a knee injury and Maksimowski withdrew when he broke his arm in the third round. That ugly injury will take Maksimowski out for the remainder of the season.
Next up for the Rams will be the final conference dual meet of the season, against Grandville on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 6 p.m. The varsity A team will be off this weekend. However, wrestling fans can see the depth of the Rams as the varsity B team will host its annual dual meet tournament Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 a.m.—a tournament that the B team has never lost.