You can always tell it’s a big match for the Buccaneers’ wrestling squad when they cut the lights in the Grand Haven Fieldhouse and drop the spotlight from the scoreboard over center court, illuminating the mat amid a dark gymnasium.
With the spotlight shining bright, the Buccaneers refused to wilt, despite a fierce late run by the visiting Panthers of West Ottawa, thanks to back-to-back wins by Antonio Reyes and Jakob VanHorssen to close out the match.
With his team leading by six points, Reyes scored a 15-4 win over the Panthers’ Miguel Cruz at 135 pounds, assuring victory for the home team. VanHorssen followed with an impressive 9-0 win over Kyle Moody at 140 pounds, finishing off the match on a high note for the Bucs.
“I just had a good mindset to go out there and help my team,” Reyes said. “I felt him slow down once I started taking him down, so I started to push harder.”
Grand Haven had a comfortable 30-15 lead after Camden Bertucci’s technical fall win over Mario Rodrigeuz at 119 pounds.
The Panthers refused to go quietly, earning a pin at 125 pounds and a close victory at 130, closing to within six points with two weight classes left.
Bucs’ coach James Richardson said the match never should have been that close.
“I didn’t think we wrestled to our potential,” a frustrated Richardson said after the win. “Antonio stepped up. That’s what you need out of your leaders. You expect them to perform in those situations, but we just didn’t wrestle to our potential.”
Richardson was happy with the performance of VanHorssen, who was coming off an impressive weight class championship at the Adam Provencal Invitational last Saturday.
“I’m very proud of Jakob,” Richardson said. “The boy he wrestled hadn’t lost.”
That was news to VanHorssen.
“I just wasn’t going to give up,” said VanHorssen, whose match took place immediately after Reyes had clinched the win for the Bucs. “I was going to wrestle and make improvements. I had no idea he was undefeated. I just wanted to finish strong and end on a positive note.”
Another big win for the Bucs came at heavyweight, where junior Chase VanHoef scored a first-period pin Ramon Correa. Both are ranked in the top 10 in the state at their weight class.
“That was the match everyone wanted to see,” Richardson said. “I’m very proud of Chase because he continues to try different things to get better. He wants to be a champion.”
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