By Jim Jakiemiec
Senior night for the Rockford wrestling program saw yet another conference win, and eleven student-athletes were honored. The Rams hosted West Ottawa and dealt them a 62-9 loss. Before the dual, all seniors were introduced with their parents. Those recognized for their contributions to the program were Jacob Simkins, Jack Tadych, Connor White, Jack Richardson, Blake Gordon, Isaac Fetterman, Tyler Waterstrat, Jacob Slabaugh, Taylor Green, Miles Watkins, and Noah Anderson. Coach Brian Richardson explained why this night was special to him, “It means a lot to me for many reasons. Ten of these kids have been with the program for all four years. This a demanding sport and these wrestlers have certainly paid their dues. They have contributed in many ways. For example, Noah Anderson has been injured for most of the season, but he is still a great leader off the mat. The underclassmen know they can count on Noah as an example of excellence.”
On Saturday, the team competed in the Stevensville Lakeshore Superduals. The team went 3-1 on the day with some outstanding competition. In the opening match, the Rams took on the neighboring Red Hawks from Cedar Springs. It proved to be a back and forth affair throughout. With two matches left, the score was tied 27-27! Senior Jack Tadych earned a critical technical fall with a 19-4 win. That gave the Rams a 32-27 lead. In the final match, Senior Blake Gordon fought valiantly to minimize the efforts of his opponent. Though he lost 7-6, he only allowed Cedar Springs three team points. Rockford won the dual 32-30.
In the second round, the Rams hammered St. Joseph 58-11 to set up a showdown with the hosts, Stevensville Lakeshore. Early in the dual, things looked bleak for Rockford who was at a 27-6 deficit. They battled back greatly only to come short with a 31-28 loss. Richardson admitted, “We did a poor job of staying off our backs! We gave up three critical pins.” He also noted, “As a team, we need to wrestle hard for the entire match, not just most of it. We suffered some late losses. Those instances cost us the dual. We have to learn from that!”
In the final contest of the day, the Rams handled Dowagiac easily with a 59-12 victory. “I was pleased to see the kids get back on track after a tough loss in the final dual. They showed resilience and finished the right way,” Richardson noted.
There were some notable individual performances on the day. Two wrestlers, Trenton Wachter and Jack Richardson, went 4-0. Additionally, underclassmen Michael Rozzano, Andrew Bolen, and Reid Nicholson all gained valuable varsity experience.
Also on Saturday, the Varsity B team competed in the Jenison Invitational going 3-2 in duals. They defeated East Grand Rapids, Hamilton, and Wyoming. This team will be in action on Saturday, January 26th as they host the Rockford B team tournament.
On tap for the varsity team is the clash of the undefeated teams in the O-K Red. Rockford will host league foe Hudsonville on Wednesday to determine the conference title. This will likely be a tightly contested match with every match point being critical to the final team score. “Our team goals always start with winning a conference title. Hudsonville is a strong team this year. We will match up with them well. If we wrestle as we are capable, we will come out on top. The details will matter in this match up!” Coach Richardson said. The varsity dual will begin at seven o’clock.