By Randy Gregory
With five regulars out of the lineup due to various reasons the Rockford wrestling team knew they were facing an uphill task at the Howell Invitational on Saturday, January 5th. In the end the Rams came up on the wrong end of the scoreboard in all five matches but gained some valuable experience for some wrestlers who don’t have the opportunity on a regular basis to face that level of opposition.
“We weren’t really happy with the results on a team basis this weekend but for a variety of reasons there were also some positives that came out of this tourney,” said Rockford coach Brian Richardson. “Jared Bennett, Nate Rojas, Braden Zych and Corey Ortiz all had varying levels of success that helped the team’s performance. And we were also able to get some much needed experience for some other kids. You can’t fault the effort of our wrestlers, but it was still a little disappointing with the end results for us as coaches.”
Bennett went a perfect 5-0 on the day at 103 pounds with a pair of pins. Rojas, Zych and Ortiz were all 3-2 as well. Bennett raised his overall record to 20-2 with his dominating day and when combined with Stephen Jendritz at 112 pounds, it gives the Rams a formidable one-two punch at the bottom of the lineup.
“Jared had a great day,” said Richardson. “He has continued to improve on a weekly basis and has been a great example for the entire team.”
The Rams return to action on Wednesday, January 9th with a return to OK Red action when they host West Ottawa. They will also host the annual Rockford Invitational on Saturday, January 12th. Teams from all corners of the state will be in attendance in the dual meet format competition. The list consists of Tri County, Jackson Lumen Christi, Reed City, Traverse City St. Francis, Traverse City West, Hesperia, Macomb L’Anse Creuse, Portage Central and Otsego.
“We have really made the OK Red our main focus from the beginning,” said Richardson. “We should be back to close to 100%, and maybe if we are lucky we will have everyone back. This is a big week for us and we know the kids will give it their best effort in front of the home crowd.”