by TIM COOPER and JIM COOPER
The Rockford High School wrestlers improved to 4-0 in OK Red conference competition when they defeated East Kentwood on Wednesday, Jan. 11. The Rams defeated the Falcons of East Kentwood in Holland on December 17 by 12 points in a preview of last week’s conference match-up.
Falls by Collin Curtis at 145 pounds and Austin Scogg at 152 pounds gave the Rams an early 12-0 lead. The Rams’ lead evaporated as the Falcons won the next five matches, building to a 19-12 lead. Rockford pulled to within four in the 103-pound match when sophomore Steven Jendritz won a hard-fought match against Eric Fisher.
With only two weights remaining, the Rams trailed the Falcons by a score of 28-27 going into the 135-pound match. After two periods, Rockford’s Trent Boyer and East Kentwood’s Anthony Hang had battled to a 3-3 tie. Boyer scored six points in the final stanza, giving the Rams a two-point lead with one match remaining.
Braden Zych secured victory for Rockford when he pinned Demir Frazier in 5:51.
Rockford Head Coach Brian Richardson said, “I’m not surprised about the outcome of the meet. We were lucky to get the win against a well-coached East Kentwood team. The pins by Collin Curtis and Braden Zych were huge. The fact that Nate Rojas and Trent Boyer turned previous losses into wins helped us tonight.”
On Saturday, Jan. 14, the Rams hosted the Rockford Varsity Invitational. Rockford went 3-0 in their pool, defeating Lumen Christi 51-21, Portage Central 39-36, and Reed City 72-6.
The Rams went on to wrestle the Hesperia Panthers in the finals. The Panthers, who are ranked second in Division IV, won the tournament last year in an individual format.
Rockford got off to a strong start with a decision by Grant Tennihill (171), followed by a major decision by Robby Gorton (189) and a pin by Brent Showers (215).
Hesperia heavyweight Brett Martin got the Panthers on the board with a fall over Brandon Houle.
Jendritz, at 103 pounds, remained undefeated on the day with a pin at the 5:02 mark against fourth-ranked Cory Agens.
Hesperia jumped back into the dual meet with falls at 112 and 119 pounds.
A pin by Tyler VanRooyen in the 125-pound match put the Rams on top by seven. After a decision for the Panthers at 130, Boyer increased the Rockford lead with a fall at the 5:15 mark in the 135-pound match.
Hesperia pins in the 140- and 145-pound matches gave the Panthers a 33-31 lead with only two matches remaining. Defending state champion Scogg pinned his opponent in 3:03, giving the Rams a 37-33 lead going into the final match.
With the dual on the line, Danny Apkarian faced off against fourth-ranked Dillon Sibley. Apkarian fell behind early when Sibley scored a quick takedown. Apkarian scored the next six points by escaping from Sibley, taking him to the mat, and scoring a three-point nearfall.
In the second period, Sibley scored an early escape and takedown to pull within one point. With the period winding down, Apkarian once again escaped, took Sibley down, and finished the combination with a three-point nearfall. The only score of the third period was a reversal by Apkarian.
“This was a fantastic day,” Richardson said. “The boys wanted to get the team back on track, and they did. The seniors on this team are doing a great job in the leadership role. They not only lead, but sometimes will this team to win.”
VanRooyen, Scogg and Boyer all went 4-0.
“We had three guys with breakout days today,” Richardson continued. “Grant Tennihill, Brent Showers and Steven Jendritz all went 4-0. The hard work is paying off. The guys showed great mettle today.”