Ram Wrestlers finish strong in OK Red
By Tim Cooper
For the seventh straight year, the Rams wrestling team was undefeated in conference dual meet competition. The final victim in the string was the Grandville Bulldogs on Wednesday, February 3.
Leading the Ram charge was the 103-pound Tyler VanRooyen who defeated Dakota Torralva with an 8-4 decision, giving the Rams an early 3-0 lead. The Bulldogs tied the score at 112 pounds when Nick Reddy scored a 6-2 decision over Rockford’s Nate Rojas. The Rams took the lead for good when the Bulldogs forfeited the 119 match to Rockford’s Jake Scholten, giving a team score of 9-3.
Grandville’s Tyler Maczinski defeated Rockford’s Chris Barrentine in the 125-pound match with a 7-0 decision. At 130 pounds, Rockford’s Jake Byers pinned Brad Norman of Grandville in 1:21, giving the Rams a 15-6 lead.
Again the pesky Bulldogs cut into the Ram margin at 135 pounds when Austin Merryweather defeated Drew Scogg 7-2. Austin Scogg, 140, used the bulk of his six minutes before pinning Dominick Barrencon, giving the Rams a 21-9 margin. At 145, Brian Ellis, of Rockford, up from the B team, fell to David Rivera in 1:22 by pin, to keep the match close with a team score of 21-15.
Bruce Carlstrom, 152, took a 4-1 lead after the first period and used just 56 seconds of the second period before pinning Grandville’s Tim Sides. Robbie Gorton added three more points to the Rockford total with a 4-1 decision over Trevor Sousley, allowing the Rams to double the Bulldog score and create a 30-15 margin.
Undefeated Jake Dorulla, 171, wrestled the full six minutes with Colton Hunt and walked away with a 12-0 shutout and a major decision. Once again Jake Johnson, wrestling up two weight classes at 189 pounds, wrestled one of Grandville’s best in Caleb Rivera. In a match that saw little scoring through six minutes, the two went into overtime with a 1-1 score. Twently-three seconds into overtime, Rivera threw Johnson from his feet to his back and pinned him with 6:23 and adding six to the Grandville team score, 34-21.
In one of the few times all season Joe Stefanski would not wrestle, Zack Banaszak took to the mat in the 215-pound match facing Grandville’s Dylan Bergenbower. Banaszak dominated his opponent, winning a 15-0 technical fall. In the final match of the evening, Jake Banaszak faced Islan Quick. This match ended quickly as Banaszak used 18 seconds to leash his Dawg.
Coach Richardson said he thought all the boys wrestled well. “All season long we’ve had kids rise to the occasion. Even though he lost, Jake Johnson has done this every week. He usually gives up 20 pounds to his opponent. He never complains about it and he never backs down.”
“The seniors on this team are an amazing group of kids. They have gone undefeated in dual meets all four years here at Rockford.”
On Saturday, February 6, Rockford again traveled to Grandville, this time for the conference tournament knowing they needed to finish at least second in this tournament in order to win conference championship for the seventh straight year.
At 103, Tyler VanRooyen again wrestled Dakota Torralva. This time it was for the conference championship. VanRooyen used 1:59 before pinning Torralva and grabbing his first conference title. At 119, Jake Scholten used 2:20 to build a 15-0 lead over Austin Steine of Jenison and win his conference championship by technical fall.
In the 125 finals, Jake Byers wrestled Grandville’s Tyler Maczinski. Maczinski went the distance with Byers, however, Byers walked away the champion with a 16-4 major decision. At 135, sophomore Austin Scogg took a 1-0 lead into the third period with Jension’s Doug Furness. Furness scored five points in the third, stealing the championship from Scogg.
Senior Jake Johnson, 171, scored take-down after take-down on West Ottawa’s Joey McClure. Johnson put in a dominant performance, winning his fourth conference championship with a 23-10 major decision. Johnson joins some elite company as only five other wrestlers in Rockford history have done this.
In one of the shortest matches of the day, Joe Stefanski wrestled in the 215-pound championship against Grand Haven’s Dylan Radde. Stefanski dispatched the Buccaneer in .54 with a fall. At 285, Zack Banaszak went toe-to-toe with Hudsonville’s Drew Jackson. Trailing late in the match 3-2, Banaszak scored five points in the last 20 seconds to achieve his dream of a conference championship.
Because of the six conference champions, and five placers, the Rams won their seventh straight OK Red championship. Coach Brian Richardson said, “I feel blessed to be their coach. I am humbled by their effort today. I’m very proud of all of my kids.”
Next up for the Rams is individual districts held at Grand Haven on Saturday, February 13, and a possible rematch with Lowell at team regionals held at Kentwood on February 17 if the Rams advance out of their district in Traverse City on Wednesday, February 10.