The Lakers’ Wednesday-night jamboree was a short affair, but succinctly reflected Spring Lake’s standing heading into the final portion of the regular season. A pair of losses allowed for their leaders to shine and rising stars to glow as they look to batten down the hatches for the final push to the postseason.
“At this point in the season, with sickness coming through and injuries and everything else, every team was missing some guys,” said Spring Lake head coach Dan Robinson. “So, with that depleted lineup, we are just looking for guys to do what we are asking them to do and we are seeing that out of everyone.
“It is just about working on certain things. We aren’t necessarily concerned with wins and losses, but making sure we are preparing for what’s coming and building into the postseason.”
A 51-26 defeat at the hands of Grand Rapids Catholic Central started the night. Jude Fetterly highlighted the match for the Lakers as he took the mat for his first varsity bout, picking up a 2-1 victory. Also picking up wins for Spring Lake were Max Montgomery at 103 lbs, Jack Parker at 112 lbs, Jamie Holt at 125 lbs, Nate Derose at 189 lbs, Collin Hutch in an exhibition 103-lbs match and Jack Stuart in a 285 lbs exhibition match.
Round two brought a little more drama to the mat, as the Lakers fell to Kenowa Hills, 39-30. Both teams, again, we're dealing with unexpected lineup gaps, bringing the point standing down to just four matches.
Three of those bouts lasted less than 60 seconds. Jack Parker led things off with a 25-second pin at 103 lbs, improving his individual record to 24-2. Nate Giddings and Fetterly didn’t fare as well for the Lakers, each succumbing to pinfalls in the first minute of their matches.
After Parker’s pin, Fetterly’s loss and a Kenowa Hills forfeit, Jamie Holt took the mat holding a 12-6 team lead in a meet desperate for points, setting the stage for a meaningful matchup with a former state qualifier.
Round 1 ended in the Knights’ favor, 4-1. Round 2 was a defensive battle won by Holt, who tied things up at 4-4 with nine seconds left in the period. A timeout for sickness delayed the end of the round, giving both wrestlers some extra rest after a tough second period.
Kenowa Hills picked up a two-point takedown early in Round 3, forcing Holt to battle from behind again. The junior executed a smooth move to evade and drop his opponent, tying the score at 6-6.
Holt executed exquisitely for 5:30 of the six-minute match, as Kenowa Hills would swipe a takedown and near-pin in the closing seconds of the match to record an 11-6 win.
The loss, combined with a flurry of forfeits down the stretch, put the match out of reach for the Lakers, but that isn’t their primary concern these days.
“You really saw that intentional improvement we want with Jamie Holt today,” Robinson said. “Every weekend we see more and more out of him. He just made one mistake in the last 30 seconds. He put his arm out where it shouldn’t have been and got caught.
“He was doing things we have been working on right until the end and proved that in the big picture he was doing the right things. Sure, we lost the match, but the stuff we have been working on worked on the mat. That’s what I want the guys to see right now.”
The “no wasted time” approach isn’t lost on the athletes. Holt has seen improvement in his craft over the course of the season and is already prepared to take another step in his next match.
“I definitely have improved on my positioning this year,” he said after his Wednesday match. “I’m setting up shots instead of just try to go for stuff without setting it up, getting my arms out of the way and stuff.
“Going into the match today, I knew he was pretty good. I just knew that I needed to go harder, push the pace in the match and not let him control me. It’s about a tough mindset and breaking through walls. In the end, I could have let him up and gone for my takedown again, and I think I just could have pushed harder, that’s what got me.”
While Holt was able to hone his skill over a six-minute match against proven competition, the Lakers’ top wrestlers didn’t have much to work with Wednesday, but the time wasn’t wasted.
“With guys like Jack Parker, his match was only 25 seconds, but he still got some good work in,” Robinson said. “He hit a takedown we have been working on, then hit a cradle and then finished it with something we have been working on — a special finish, one that is a little nastier than normal, I would say.
“It’s all about the work and making sure that every match there is something you worked on. It’s all setting up for the postseason for guys like Parker and Max Montgomery, I can’t say enough about them. For them, it’s time to start tightening the screws on everything. For the younger guys, it is time to learn by watching these guys put it all together.”
With just three outings left before the conference tournament, every match is an opportunity. The Lakers will return to action to continue honing their craft Wednesday as they take on the Reeths-Puffer Jamboree.