Boys wrestling concludes its season with a 10-12 record and memories to last a lifetime


Over the winter sports season, teams have all been tested in all sorts of ways—mentally and physically. However, the boys wrestling team has grown and proven the most during its long season in the Ranger wrestling room.

“This season, I didn’t quite know what to think after our short season last year and graduating almost ten seniors out of the varsity lineup and the limited training in three off-season; however, our squad of 32 wrestlers exceeded their expectations,” head coach Brad Anderson said. “We had a handful of wrestlers post 20-win seasons, we won a tournament, we were runners up at Forest Hills Eastern, we posted ten team dual victories, and won the Division II district championship.”

The Rangers started off their season slowly, falling short to Tri-County and Belding. FHC was just getting started, though, as the boys boasted an impressive 3-1 record at the Forest Hills Eastern Kickoff Duals following those back-to-back losses to Tri-County and Belding. FHC then took down Oakridge, Forest Hills Eastern, and Muskegon, making it look easy. Although they put up a fight, the Rangers fell to Holland and fell to 3-3 on the season.

“I think we did well; we fought in tight matches and duels and, in the end, did better than expected,” senior Will Richardson said. “And we improved daily, which helped us a lot.”

Next on the team’s schedule was the Kent County Championship. At this championship competition, seven Rangers placed in their respective weight classes; sophomore Ashley Schneck and senior Remmie Gavle got second and third, junior Michael Campbell placed fourth, sophomore Josh Elzinga got fifth, juniors Landon Cooke and Blake Jacobs got sixth, and senior Arash Kordbacheh placed seventh. Overall, this was a very successful day for the team, with some of its more reliable wrestlers placing in the top ten and making a name for themselves on the mat.

“We improved across the board,” Will said. “We were young, so we needed to learn the basics. The older guys worked on cardio and their own moves.”

After the Kent County Championships, the team traveled to the Coopersville Military Appreciation Tournament to take on Sparta, Wayland, Zeeland West, Kent City, and Coopersville. The Rangers took down Zeeland West after a tough battle, yet sadly for them, they couldn’t pull the victory out against Sparta, Wayland, or Coopersville. As a result of the multiple losses at the hands of Sparta, Wayland, and Coopersville, the boys held onto a record of 4-7. Nevertheless, they stayed positive and continued to work hard as the pressure in the wrestling room was heating up. 

Bouncing back from the three losses, FHC competed at home in the FHC Quad against Sparta and Hudsonville. The boys beat Sparta by a sliver, scoring two more points than the Spartans in a 39-37 nail-biter. Still, the Rangers ended up falling by twelve to the Eagles, with the final score being 42-30. This left the team at 1-1 for the day and 5-8 for the season. 

“The team was truly tested during that quad. To me, that competition tested us in a way the team needed and proved that all of our work paid off,” sophomore Josh Elzinga said. 

Kenowa Hills was FHC’s next opponent, and the Knights came ready to show the Rangers who ran the gym. The two teams battled it out at the FHC Middle School, and after a long hard fight, the Rangers lost by two in a 38-36 contest. Even though the Rangers weren’t sitting where they wanted to at this point in the season, that doesn’t mean the fight was over for them yet; their previous misfortunes gave them one more reason to practice and work until they mastered their technique. 

The Rangers’ next matchup was against five of the toughest teams in the area, but that didn’t stop the boys from coming out of the two-day competition with a well-earned 3-2 record. Thanks to a valiant effort from every wrestler, FHC boosted its record to 8-11.  The boys won against Caledonia 42-31, Northview 61-15, and best of all, Allegan 69-12, proving they have what it takes to pull off anything. Although the team won against three of the teams, it fell to Forest Hills Northern and Grandville after a few hard-fought battles. 

“I was also proud of the fact that we beat some of our rivals—FHE, Sparta, and Caledonia—and each came down to the last match. We fell short against Forest Hills Northern, but hopefully, we can improve and be battling with them again next year,” coach Anderson said. 

Coming off some strong wins, especially against their rivals over at Caledonia, the Rangers took home the Kelloggsville Individual Tournament title, along with a boat-load of confidence. The Rangers placed 57 points above the second-place finisher, Zeeland East, with a whopping 217.5 points. Going down the list, Northview finished with 105.5 points, Kelloggsville with 96.0, Grand Rapids Christian with 85.0, Big Rapids with 81.0, and lastly Godwin Heights with 61.0 points. 

Next up on FHC’s schedule was a senior-night battle between FHC and Montague under the spotlight. Both teams went head to head with no light but the one above them, adding to the intense scene of power and the will to win. In the end, the Rangers won 57-24 and improved their overall record to 9-11.

Things started to heat up during the season when FHC went up against Grand Rapids Christian for the district title. Both teams battled it out, but Grand Rapids Christian crumbled under the weight of pressure and lost to the Rangers 81-0. To put it into perspective, 84 is the highest score you can get in wrestling. So, the team nearly swept Christian right out of the gym on its way to a district championship.

Despite all of the challenges that the Rangers overcame this season, they lost in regionals against Middleville Thornapple Kellogg 61-15 in the team competition. The final hurrah of the season was when Remmie Gavle, Ashley Schenck, Will Richardson, and Evan Elzinga competed for a spot at states, and after many long, brutal fights, Remmie, Will, and Evan were all sent home. 

“More importantly, our wrestlers trained with discipline, toughness, and grit,” coach Anderson said. “We showed heart and fight in every match.”

Although her teammates didn’t make it all the way to the state tournament, the lone sophomore on the girls team, Ashley Schenck, punched her golden ticket to states, where she will compete for a highly-coveted state title. 

“We also have Ashley Schenck competing at the state tournaments and hopefully finishing all-state again,” coach Anderson said. 

With its impressive season record of 10-12 and many other incredible individual performances from its wrestlers, one of the more inexperienced boys wrestling teams in the last few years deserves a round of applause for all of its hard work and dedication this season. Although the boys team is losing five seniors, all of whom will be missed dearly, the future of FHC wrestling is bright. Sophomore Greyson Ripmaster and others will look to pick up the torch and improve upon this year’s success in the district championship against Grand Rapids Christian.

“For the coaching staff, the highlight was seeing the improvement from day one to the last day,” coach Anderson said. “If we put in a good off-season and make a regular commitment to getting better, there’s no reason we can’t have a fantastic championship season next year.”