Three wrestlers advance to state finals

Team season ends

by TIM COOPER

The Rockford wrestling team entered their regional competition on Wednesday, Feb. 16, looking for a way to make up points against Hudsonville, who beat the Rams 39-20 two weeks prior. Knowing that, Coach Brian Richardson adjusted his lineup in hopes of obtaining more favorable match-ups.

Robby Gorton works to turn East Kentwood's Matt Franklin. Gorton will join teammates Austin Scogg and Tyler VanRooyen at the Palace next weekend.

Hudsonville grabbed an early lead, winning the 145- and 152-pound matches, putting the Rams down by nine. Rockford got on the board in the 160-pound match when Austin Scogg outworked opponent Zach VanEss before pinning him at the 5:42 mark. Hudsonville increased their lead by four with a major decision in the 171-pound match.

Robby Gorton, at 189 pounds, brought the Rams to within one point by pinning Todd Holstege in 1:33. Freshman Brent Showers gave Rockford its first lead of the dual with a 15-0 technical fall over Dallas Dickson. Taylon Nuyenhuis put the Eagles back on top 19-17 with a fall in 2:16 over Jake Wilson.

Steven Jendritz kept hope alive in the 103-pound match by pinning Victor Urzola, giving the lead back to the Rams at 23-19. An 11-5 decision by Zach Henderson over Rockford’s Nate Rojas in the 112-pound match pulled the Eagles to within one.

A decision at 119 pounds by Cullen Maksimowski over Matt Igo, followed by Tyler VanRooyen’s major decision over Zach Nystrum, gave the Rams an eight-point lead with three matches remaining. Hudsonville won the remaining three matches, giving them a 37-30 victory, and a place in the regional finals against Grand Haven. Grand Haven advanced to the finals by beating East Kentwood 36-29.

Austin Scogg holds rival Niko Parks in a front headlock in an effort to score a takedown.

Hudsonville defeated Grand Haven 35-33, moving them on to Battle Creek for a shot at the team state championship.

“We had our chance tonight,” said the Rams’ Coach Richardson. “These kids have seen adversity all season long. Our senior captains did the best tonight to give us a win. Mike Rottier of Hudsonville is a good coach. That’s a well-coached team.”

On Saturday, Feb. 19, six Ram wrestlers traveled to East Kentwood for the individual regional competition. Scogg advanced through the championship bracket, beating Spencer Hill of Midland Dow in the opening round, and Jenison’s Trevor Dunham in the semifinals.

Scogg’s semifinal victory was his 100th career win.

In the finals, Scogg faced Niko Parks of East Kentwood for the fourth time in five weeks. Scogg and Parks battled to a 3-3 tie after regulation. In sudden victory overtime, Scogg was awarded one point when Parks was called for stalling.

At 171 pounds, Gorton advanced to the finals by beating Knute Hoffman of Midland in the opening round, and East Kentwood’s Matt Franklin in the semifinals. In the finals, Grand Haven’s Connor Moynihan pinned Gorton in 1:50, placing Gorton second in the region.

In the 119-pound weight class, VanRooyen lost his semifinal match to Matthew Miller of Davison, placing him in the consolation semifinals, where he wrestled teammate Cullen Maksimowski, in a match that decided who would continue on to the state finals and who would go home. VanRooyen outlasted Maksimowski, taking a 3-0 victory.

Coach Richardson said, “It’s heartbreaking when you have two wrestlers meet in the blood round. It’s hard on the coach because you feel bad for one wrestler, and yet you still need to be excited for the other.”

VanRooyen finished third on the day, when East Kentwood’s Anthony Hang injury defaulted in the finals.

VanRooyen, Scogg and Gorton all advance to the Palace of Auburn Hills for the individual state championships, held March 3-5.

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