By Randy Gregory
The Rockford wrestling team has struggled for a good portion of the 2012-13 season, but has fared noticeably better of late. The improvement was validated further at Rockford on Wednesday, February 6th when the Rams hosted the Titans of Traverse City West High School in the team districts. The two squads had met earlier in the year with Rockford coming out on top 57-18. The Rams scored the same amount of points this time around, but limited the losses and put the pedal to the medal en route to a dominating 57-9 triumph that advanced them to the regional at East Kentwood on Wednesday, February 13th.
“It has been a challenging season for all of us connected with Rockford wrestling,” said Rockford coach Brian Richardson. “But tonight was awesome and I am so happy for the boys. Anytime you get a chance to move ahead another step in the state tournament is a strong statement about the team. We wrestled as well as a team as we have all year and I believe this is the 20th district we have won in school history.
Rockford was sparked by the contributions of the four seniors who took to the mat. Jake Schneider, Nate Rojas, Jake Elkins and Colton Sensiba combined for 22 of the 57 points the team amassed on the night.
“This was the last chance for the seniors to perform in front of the hometown fans,” said Richardson. “And they definitely saved the best for last. This is something the whole team, but especially the seniors, will always remember. I think the entire team wanted to win this for the seniors, but they (seniors) certainly did their part to make sure it happened.”
Next up for Rockford is another familiar foe. The Rams will square off with Grandville in one semifinal while Forest Hills Central and West Ottawa will battle it out simultaneously on the other mat. The Bulldogs have beaten Rockford twice this season, but the gap has narrowed considerably between those two duals and even in the conference tourney that was contested last week. The two winners will then meet for the right to advance to the state quarterfinals the following week in Battle Creek.
“The kids are excited to get another chance at Grandville,” said Richardson. “They are a great team and the conference champions so it will be a challenge for sure. But we have made some inroads over the course of the season and we will give it our best shot.”