BY DAVID PEDERSEN
Rockford’s wrestling team needed all the wins and bonus points it could get in the final round to secure the championship at Saturday’s Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Invitational by a half of a point over the host team.
Earlier in the week HLWW defeated Rockford in a dual meet. It helped the Rockets had wrestlers in 11 of the 14 weight classes compared to having to forfeit at several weights early in the season.
Ty Griffin won the championship at 132 by a technical fall. Tommy Reinking earned his first varsity championship by pin at 170. Dylan Graunke earned his first championship at 160 in thrilling fashion by pin. Coach Larry Hunter said Graunke was sent to collect the team trophy for his hard work at the tournament and in the wrestling room.
“Hayden Roehl, a first year wrestler with outstanding athletic ability, showed his future promise when he pinned all three opponents en route to his first championship at 126,” said Hunter.
Brad Johnson lost a tight one-point decision in the title match at 138, in what Hunter calls the toughest bracket of the tournament. Johnson lost to a ranked opponent from Albany, who was named tourney outstanding wrestler from Albany.
Making their first visit to the finals at a tournament, Nick Selly placed second at 195 and heavyweight Max Gulsvig also finished second.
Third place finishers were Griffin Ekberg, Fordy Thorson and Sasha Galka, who had three pins on the day. Ekberg and Thorson both had two pins.
Lucas Klonne, an eighth-grader, placed fourth at 106 and Daquerio Kano was fifth.
In a prior match, Rockford recorded eight first period pins to go with forfeits in the other three matches in a 66-18 win over Irondale. Pins were by Klonne, Roehl, Griffin, Johnson, Graunke, Eric Dahl, Cano and Gulsvig, closing out the match with a pin with one second remaining.
Rockford goes to face Kimball Jan. 30.