The Reeths-Puffer wrestling team made history on Wednesday night, capturing the program’s first regional championship with a 40-31 victory over Allendale in the finals of the Division 2 regional tournament at Forest Hills Eastern High School.
The Rockets will next wrestle in the Division 2 state quarterfinals on Feb. 28 at 6:45 p.m. at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo, against an opponent to be determined after seeding.
Reeths-Puffer defeated Greenville 56-18 in the regional semifinals on Wednesday, before taking on Allendale in the finals.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Reeths-Puffer Coach Matt Brink, whose team had won district titles for five previous years, but always lost in regionals. “Once you fall short, it leaves a bad feeling, and we finally got it done tonight. It feels awesome, but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet.”
Jacob Blawat (119) won the opening match of the finals by technical fall, giving the Rockets an early 5-0 lead.
After Allendale grabbed a 9-5 lead, R-P’s Alex Chipman (135) won his match 20-8 to tie the match at 9-9.
Allendale took a 13-9 lead before Thade Radosa (145) won his match via pin, giving Reeths-Puffer a 15-13 advantage.
The Rockets extend the lead to 24-13 when Jimmy Rozycki (152) defeated his opponent 13-2 and Caleb McNeil (160) picked up a technical fall.
After an Allendale pin made the score 24-19, Reeths-Puffer’s Colby Stephenson (189) got the Rockets back on track with a technical fall, making the score 29-19.
Allendale cut the deficit to 29-25 via pin before Hunter McCall (285) pinned his opponent to stretch the Rocket lead to 35-25.
A technical fall by Greg Maynard (103) extended the Rocket lead to 40-25 and clinched the regional title. Allendale won the last match by pin, but it was too little, too late.
“We’ve basically got tonight,” said Brink about how long he’ll let his team celebrate. “We’ll get back at it tomorrow and start thinking about individual regionals and the 10 guys who have to wrestle on Saturday.”