The Grand Haven wrestling team faced off with Grandville in the opening round of the Division 1 team regional tournament on Wednesday at Forest Hills Central High School. The team’s season came to an end as the Bucs fell to the Bulldogs, 19-45.
Grandville rolled into Ada with a wall-to-wall stellar lineup, after defeating the Bucs handily in their O-K Red Conference dual, winning the O-K Red title and cleaning up at the individual district tournament at Grand Haven last weekend, the Bucs had a more than difficult task ahead of them if they wanted to see Rockford in the second round.
“A lot of times, the score doesn’t indicate the effort,” Grand Haven head coach Vince Gervais said. “Tonight, I felt like we performed really well, we were attacking, we were aggressive, we were going after them and that’s what I want to see.
“We performed really well, we just ran into a team that is better than us in Grandville on the mat tonight. It stinks ending on a loss, but I’m proud of these guys, they battled today.”
Grand Haven got off to a good start, taking two of the first four matches, leading Grandville at times over the first portion of the match, but as the Bulldog lineup got rolling, the Bucs were fighting for points.
They gave up just one pin on the night, being sure to fight through all six minutes of each bout, making Grandville earn each victory.
“They were wrestling for each other,” Gervais said of the defiant performance. “It is tough when you wrestle for yourself, when you realize there is a guy next to you and you start to wrestle for him, a lot of times you fight harder. I saw that tonight, that’s one thing I’m really proud of is the absolute effort tonight.”
It was not all about attrition on Wednesday. A bright spot for the Bucs came with Daniel Guillen in the 130-pound match. Guillen led through a fierce first period, 4-1, and clocked out early in the second, securing a rare Grand Haven pinfall victory.
Guillen’s win brought the Bucs back into the contest, trailing just 19-21, but a forfeit in the following match put them back behind the eight-ball before four straight losses to end the match sealed the deal for Grandville.
With the team competitions over, coach Gervais deemed this edition of Grand Haven wrestling a success.
“We faced some adversity this season,” he said. “I feel like as a team, we came together, we grew and we improved. These guys worked their tails off. I’m thankful for the leaders, we had some great seniors this year.”
For coach Gervais, this senior class is the first he had the opportunity to coach for all four years of their high school careers, and he couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished during their tenure.
“They are selfless kids, and they meant a lot to this program,” he said. “They won a lot of matches, four district titles, a regional title, two conference titles, this group has accomplished a lot.”
“That group came in when I came in four years ago, so this class has a lot of special meaning for me. It’s always fun when your first cycle of four (years) comes through.”
A few of those seniors, and some underclassmen too, get the opportunity to continue their season on Saturday at the Division 1 individual regional tournament.
Drake Morley, Caleb Monsma, Caleb Braley, Cody Miller, Bryan Batten and Guillen will continue to train in an effort to make an appearance at the Palace of Auburn Hills for the individual state championship tournament in March.
“It changes the focus a little bit in my opinion, but it is still about team and program,” Gervais said of the now exclusively individual competition. “If we can get as many guys to that state tournament that’s good for the program and it shows the other guys what hard work means, and puts us on the map.”
This does not necessarily mean the end of grueling workouts and beating up on each other for the non-qualified wrestlers.
“I tell the guys that I still want them around,” Gervais said. “Just because they cant compete as individuals, they still have an obligation to their teammates to help them accomplish some goals, and all the guys do that, they come back for unselfish reasons.”
Those unselfish reasons are reflected at the end of every Grand Haven wrestling meet in their break-down cheer. The Bucs can be heard belting a “family on three” after every win or loss.
“To me, this is an extension of our family, that is what I love about wrestling,” Gervais said. “It’s a camaraderie that is built, they are all like brothers. You beat each other up, you bleed, you sweat, and it forces you to grow closer as a team.”
Now, those brothers will look to fuel each other through a successful regional round all the way to the Palace.
Fruitport no match for top-ranked Lowell
The Fruitport wrestling squad had no answers for the top-ranked Division 2 team in the state in the Lowell Red Arrows at the team regionals on Wednesday at Sparta High School.
Lowell was not only the top-ranked team in the Division 2, but had all but two individual wrestlers in their lineup ranked in the top 10 of their individual weight classes according to MichiganGrappler.com
The Red Arrows took a decisive 81-0 win over the Trojans in the regional semifinals, and capped off the night with a 49-25 win over Greenville in the regional final to advance to the team state finals on Feb. 24-25 at McGuirk Arena at Central Michigan University.
The Trojans’ collective season comes to an end, but Zachary Sykes, Levi Six and Dallas Rogers will return to the mats Saturday for the Division 2 individual regional at Byron Center High School.