Waldo joins elite company with fourth title by TIM COOPER On Thursday, March 12, 896 wrestlers from four divisions walked the floor of the Palace of Auburn Hills in the opening ceremonies of the state individual wrestling championships. Among them were eight hopeful young men from Rockford. Attendance was an all-time high with 43,454 tickets sold for the weekend. In an opening round that saw the Rams earn an amazing 28 takedowns, while giving up none, all eight advanced to the quarterfinals on Friday, March 13. At the end of the second round of competition, seven of the eight were still standing. Only CJ Scholl (152) had dropped into the consolation bracket with a heartbreaking 10-9 loss to Tyler Romijn of Temperance-Bedford. In what was the final match of his high school career, Scholl found himself nursing an injured shoulder and trailing Walled Lake Central’s Don Kril 10-1. Late in the third period, Kril gave up a penalty point by illegally slamming Scholl to the mat. Though Scholl could have used this penalty to advance to the next round, he chose to end his career with true character and allowed Krill to advance in the competition. In Friday’s semifinal round, Zach Johnson (140) felt a similar heartache when he lost 2-1 to Charlie Cordero of Rochester Hills’ Stoney Creek. Coming this close to a state championship, the Ram wrestler showed his determination by battling back in the consolation brackets. In the first round of consolations, Johnson faced a familiar foe in OK Red conference runner-up Nick Bohn of East Kentwood. Just as Johnson had done several times during the season, he dominated Bohn, winning 11-4.
Battle Creek, Kellogg Arena March 6 and 7 On Friday, March 6, the top-ranked Rockford Rams placed their hopes and a 23-2 record on the line in a single elimination tournament for the team wrestling state championship. In round one, the Rams faced the 31-7 Roseville Panthers. As the Rams have done most of the season, they dominated their opponent, winning 10 of 14 matches with four of them by pin. The Rams earned a 46-21 victory and a birth in the semi-finals Saturday with Lake Orion. The Dragons advanced by upsetting fourth-ranked Detroit Catholic Central 42-27. In a dual meet that saw the Rams and upset-minded Dragons exchange leads several times, it was the role-players who would shine. Though Tyler Johnson (145), CJ Sholl (152), Zach Banzak (189) all lost their matches, they saved valuable team points by only giving up decisions and nine team points, helping to keep the Rams in the hunt. Trailing 24-21, with two matches remaining, heavy-weight Jesse Somsel won a 10-0 major decision over Lake Orions Tyler Benson, giving Rockford a narrow 25-24 lead. The hopes of advancing to the final round landed on the smallest Ram in the lineup, Tyler VanRooyen (103). Although small in stature, VanRooyen carried the weight of his team to the mat in a winner-take-all battle. At the 4:30 mark of the match VanRooyen became the biggest Ram, recording a 16-0 technical fall over John Atwater. VanRooyens five team points brought the score to 30-24, placing the Rams in the championship finals against defending state champion, Holt. Rams found themselves in similar circumstances in 1997 when they lost to defending champion Holt 30-25 because of disqualification due to a bloody nose. In that match the Ram heavyweight Ben Miller was ahead in the match but unable to stop a bloody nose, causing his disqualification and a Holt victory. Like twelve years ago, Rockford is ranked number one in the state and Holt is ranked number two. Holt was also the defending state champion and Rockford was hungry for the win. Unlike 1997, bloodtime would not be a factor. With the starting weight drawn at 112 pounds, B-team wrestler Alex Padilla of Rockford entered the lineup for the injured Charlie Hall. Padilla fell to Ben […]
Rockford High School Athletic Department recently announced retirement and coaching changes of four high school sports. After 35 years as head varsity coach of the Rams wrestling team, Don Rinehart has announced that he will retire at the end of the current season. Coach Rinehart’s accomplishments include 11 OK Red conference team championships, 14 district team titles, 10 regional team titles, and the 2007 Division I state MHSAA team championship. Rinehart has also coached numerous individual state champions, and has also coached baseball, softball and football in Rockford Public Schools. Amira Ponne has been named the head girls soccer coach. Ponne has coached at the junior varsity level for the past three seasons and teaches at the Rockford Freshman Center. She replaces Heidi Greenland, who retired to spend more time with her family. Tim Jacobs and Greg Hobart have been named to lead the varsity men’s and women’s crew teams. Jacobs is a teacher at the Rockford Freshman Center. Hobart is a long-time assistant coach in wrestling. Andrew Martin has been named the head boys track coach. He is also the men’s cross country coach and has served as a track assistant the past several years. Martin teaches in the social studies department at Rockford High School. Last year’s head coach, Brent Cummings, will remain with the staff as an assistant coach.