After an 8-14 season last year, the Ranger wrestling program is looking for a huge rebound this year as they take on the 2019-2020 season. Head coach Brad Anderson is looking to build off the success this program has had in years past off of their returning talent. The team is returning many talented seniors such as Wyatt Engler and Tommy Hendricks, along with juniors Caden Jacobs, Bryce Hysong, and Isaac Gurley. The Rangers’ lineup consists of a good amount of new wrestlers, and a lot of veterans who will have to lead the team this season.
“We’re coming off a rebuilding year where we had a lot of young players, but they’ve put in a lot of work and are bringing us closer and closer to our goals for this season,” Anderson said. “Goal number one is a winning season, with another goal of 20 dual wins—which is a very good season. Overall as a team, our goal is to be selfless, tough, and disciplined every time we step on the mat.”
The Rangers’ fight adversity in their first match up at Tri-County high school, which takes place during an assembly where the whole school can watch. This will be a very high intensity opening game and will be crucial for the Rangers’ to get the quick start they want.
Caden Jacobs is one of the main returning guys for the Rangers, and will be wrestling at 119. Caden is looking for another long run in the postseason, but will have to face some of the toughest competition in the state in order to reach that point. He is also joined by his little brother freshman Blake Jacobs, who will be wrestling at 112, and dad, Assistant coach Derrick Jacobs.
“This season is looking really good,” Caden said. “We have a lot of returning talent and are looking to improve off of last years performance and hopefully make a run in the postseason. I am looking to improve off my record last year and be one of the best guys at 119 in the area, but a lot of work has to be done first.”
Another big returner is Bryce. This is his second year of being a part of the Ranger wrestling program, but wrestled in Utah before moving into the state. Last year, Bryce had a very successful season that was mainly led by mid-season winning streak. He started off strong, then got hot in the middle, and won just over 10 straight matches, putting him up in the rankings and allowing him a strong spot on the team. This year, he is wrestling at 135 and is looking to be one of the top competitors in his weight class.
“Since moving to Grand Rapids, this wrestling program has been a perfect fit,” Bryce said. “The coaching staff has been nothing but supportive, and I’ve thrived with their teaching style. This program has taught me far more than just skills to use on the wrestling mat; it has taught me to be a better character overall, which is why I’m really pumped for this season.”
On the heavier end are Isaac, Wyatt, and sophomore Will Richardson. These three have also been in the program for a while, and are going to face the biggest and strongest competition the Rangers will see. This program has been built off of mid and heavy weights for the last few years—Keegan Moore and Isaac Torrey were mid-weight wrestlers in the 2017-2018 season and each made long runs in the postseason, leaving a clear precedent for those up to the task.
Throughout this season, the Rangers are going to face adversity at many points throughout. They have a very tough schedule, as they find themselves matched up against some of the best teams in the state, which include Lowell, Cedar Springs, and East Kentwood. Lowell is by far one of the hardest competition in the state, and the Rangers meet them on the mats at least 3 separate times. Last year against Lowell, FHC struggled in just about every match, but this year, things may be a little different. With some new and more experienced wrestlers, the Rangers may be able to take down the Red Arrows in many of their weight classes.
“[In order to achieve our goals] we practice incredibly hard,” Anderson said. “We fight, we run, we scrap and spar and do everything to make us the more prepared team.”