by TIM COOPER
With the starting weight drawn at 140 pounds, Rockford’s Austin Scogg took to the mat first on Wednesday, Jan. 27 at Rockford High School. Scogg’s opponent was a well-coached Niko Parks of East Kentwood.
Apparently attempting to set the tone for the rest of the dual meet, the referee awarded numerous stalling calls during the first two periods. With the score tied at 2-2 after the first period, East Kentwood’s Parks escaped early in the second, putting both wrestlers back on their feet and taking a 3-2 lead. Again the referee awarded double stalling calls, awarding two points to each wrestler. With Scogg trailing 5-4 at the start of the third period, he evened the match with an escape for one point, sending this battle into overtime.
In the first overtime period, both wrestlers started on their feet and, after the end of one minute, remained on their feet.
In the second overtime period, Parks chose the down position and was given 30 seconds to escape the grasp of Scogg, who proved up to the task and was able to ride Parks for the entire time.
In the final overtime period, Scogg chose the down position. Using a standup, he escaped from Parks, taking a one-point lead. Scogg opened the gap with a double-leg takedown and two points. As time ran out, Scogg led the match 8-5.
In the 145-pound match, East Kentwood’s highly ranked Nick Bohn faced Rockford reserve wrestler Connor Grady. Bohn used just 1:50 to pin Grady and give East Kentwood a 6-3 lead on a team score.
At 152 pounds, Bruce Carlstrom faced another highly ranked East Kentwood wrestler, as he took the mat against Deshawn Nelson, the number-one-ranked 152-pounder in Division I. In the first period, Nelson took Carlstrom to the mat for two points, but could gain no further advantage.
In the second period, Nelson chose the down position, escaped for one point, and again took Carlstrom to the mat for a 5-0 lead after four minutes.
In the third period, Carlstrom chose to be on bottom and was released by Nelson, making the score 5-1. As time ran out, Nelson received his third takedown of the match and a 7-1 victory after six minutes, building the Falcon lead to 9-3.
At 160 pounds, East Kentwood’s Desmond Couch used three minutes exactly to pin Rockford reserve wrestler Solomon Gant, increasing East Kentwood’s lead to 15-3.
The tides began to change at 171 pounds, when Rockford senior Jake Dorulla pinned Phil McIntosh in 50 seconds. Dorulla remains undefeated for the season and top-ranked in Division I. The team score was 15-9, East Kentwood.
Jake Johnson (189 pounds) further cut into the East Kentwood lead with his fall of Raheim Oliver in 55 seconds, tying the dual meet at 15-15.
Zack Banaszak (215) put the Rams in front for good with his fall of Kevin Todd in 2:48, bringing the team score to 21-15, Rockford.
In like manner, Joe Stefanski, wrestling up one weight class at 285 pounds, used 47 seconds to pin Phil Morrand of East Kentwood. This built the Ram advantage to 27-15.
Only two of the remaining matches went the full distance. Rockford’s Tyler VanRooyan pinned Billy Morrell in 1:57 in the 103-pound match. At 112 pounds, Nate Rojas fell in a 5-2 decision to East Kentwood’s Anwar Munye, making the team score 33-18.
Rockford increased their lead with falls from Chubs Johnson (119) over Sam Booker in 2:57, Jacon Scolten (125) over East Kentwood’s Anthony Houng with a fall in 3:24, and Jake Byers (130) over Austin Geerlings in 4:08, giving a commanding 51-18 going into the final match of the night.
At 135 pounds, Rockford’s Drew Scogg fell behind 4-0 to East Kentwood’s Jon Curly after one period. Scogg battled back in the second, scoring eight points on a reversal and two near-falls. In the third, Scogg increased his lead to 9-4 with an escape before Curly scored two on a takedown. As time ran out, Scogg walked away victorious with a 9-6 decision, giving the Rams a 54-18 victory over East Kentwood.
“I told the guys this week how well-coached Kentwood is and we needed to go after them tonight, which we did,” said Coach Richardson. “I was very impressed with the way we attacked every match. The Scogg brothers came up with huge wins, and Zack Banaszak’s return to the lineup was big. If we keep improving like we have, great things can happen.”
Saturday, Jan. 30 was a rare day off for the varsity A team. However, the B team took to the mat as they hosted their annual tournament. In pool wrestling, Rockford racked up huge wins, beating Allendale by a score of 69-6 in the first round, a scrappy Caledonia team 64-12 in the second round, and a 73-6 thumping of Byron Center in the third.
In the championship match, Rockford faced Hastings, who defeated their three opponents in the opposite pool. Rockford continued to score big against Hastings, defeating the Saxons 56-15, winning the championship once again. Undefeated wrestlers for the B team on the day were Sam Merchun (112), Chris Barrentine (119), Alex Padilla (125), Trent Boyer (130), Danny Apkarian (135), Peter Nugent (140), Sam Williams (152), Solomon Gant (160), and Paul Creighton (189).
Next up for the Rams will be the conference tournament held at Grandville on Saturday, Feb. 6, and the district dual meets to be held on Wednesday, Feb. 10 in Traverse City.