Ram wrestler rises through adversity

Scogg wins state championship for his mom


A state championship is never a small feat. The hard work that goes into winning a title can never be emphasized enough. Unquestionably, it’s one of the greatest accomplishments most athletes who do will ever achieve.

Austin Scogg poses with his mother Renee after winning the 152-pound state championship in Division I.

But sometimes, it’s much more than just a state championship. Sometimes it’s more than the medal and the fanfare.

When Rockford junior Austin Scogg won the state individual championship at 152 pounds in Auburn Hills on Saturday, March 5, no superlative could describe the power of the moment.

In December, Scogg’s mother, Renee, was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. Her doctor scheduled surgery at the most immediate time available. She’s been undergoing chemotherapy since then.

While, for many competitors, that might be a hindrance to their performance, it helped Scogg intensify his focus. “Ever since I found out about my mom having cancer, I’ve been wrestling for her,” said Scogg. “I’ve been trying to put a smile on her face.”

It wasn’t hard to tell she had a huge smile on her face as Renee danced and cheered wildly in the stands after her son’s match at the Palace of Auburn Hills. But why not dance? In that moment, all the pain and fatigue of her battle with cancer was nonexistent. For the entire Scogg family, on that night, the worries were gone. It was the perfect distraction from the reality of their situation.

It wasn’t only a distraction for Renee. It was therapeutic, as well. “Watching Austin wrestle the last few months has given me something else to think about,” she said after the medal ceremony.

Scogg’s father, Andy, was also beaming. “We couldn’t be more proud of Austin,” he commented. “It’s great to see him realize his dreams, even through the adversity he’s faced. When he was a little kid, I asked him where he wanted to be. He said, ‘In a gym, on the wrestling mat.’ I asked him why, and he said, ‘To get a medal.’ He’s done that.”

Ram wrestling coach Brian Richardson acknowledged Scogg’s accomplishment as one of the most special thing’s he’d ever been a part of. “A championship is always a big thing,” Richardson said, “but when a kid faces as much adversity both on and off the mat as Austin Scogg has this year, it makes it all the more special.”

Scogg said after the match that he felt like things were finally going his way. “I’m so happy I could win this today for my mom. Life is going my way right now. Not only do I get to be a state champ, but my mom is recovering well from her cancer.”

To add to all the battles in his personal life, Scogg was forced to step up and become one of the key leaders of the Ram wrestling team this year.

“Austin stepped up when the team needed him,” Richardson said. “The guys needed a leader, and Austin and Tyler VanRooyen came up and delivered. It’s never easy for juniors to do that, but now I know I have a couple of great young men to help lead this team next year.”

Scogg mentioned how difficult it was for him to lead the team, as well. “It was tough being the leader on the team. It was hard watching the senior leaders fall off, but I did what I had to do for the team.”

According to Richardson, it couldn’t have happened to a better kid. “Austin Scogg is the hardest-working wrestler I’ve ever seen. He has a strong faith, and a great head on his shoulders. He’s the kind of kid you want to succeed. He left practice early on a Sunday to work at a soup kitchen. He’s very active with his church. He is absolutely a great kid.”

Rockford assistant coach Dustin Anderson may have put it best. “There’s never been a wrestler that deserves this more.”


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