Head coach Brad Anderson has been building up the Ranger Wrestling program for the last decade and has found great success within. Following a rebuilding year, the 2019-2020 season was full of records, clutch pins, and huge wins. The team ended the regular season 18-9 with three Regional qualifiers and a third-place finish in the conference.
“This season, our wrestlers embodied selflessness, toughness, and discipline,” Anderson said. “Everyone worked very hard in the practice room, left it out on the mat in every competition, and exceeded expectations for the season. Going from 8-12 last season to 18-9 this season with essentially the same schedule is really cool, and I’m excited for next season.”
The season started out with a very unusual match; this match was at Tri-County High School in an assembly match. The Rangers faced off during these school hours, causing a very chaotic and energetic environment. The day opened up with a huge win for junior Isaac Gurley at 145. Next up was senior wrestler Wyatt Engler, who went face to face with a state-qualifying competitor. This match was by far the most exciting of the day, as Wyatt went down 7-3 early. After a long battle back, Wyatt managed to get around his opponent and force him into overtime, which he later won in. This match was a huge win for the Rangers, as it fueled the rest of the team to gut out the 36-31 victory.
The Hawk Duals were next up on the Rangers’ schedule, and the Rangers ended it with a 4-0 record. Led by junior Bryce Hysong and sophomore Will Richardson, FHC managed to fight off FHE, Holland, Northview, and Muskegon. Bryce was one of the most experienced wrestlers on the squad, coming from a tough wrestling state in Utah, and he proved himself time after time. Will is a second-year veteran, and he showed his strength on the mat against other highly talented heavyweights.
“These matches were essential for the rest of the season,” Will said. “[Forest Hills Eastern] is always a huge rival every year, and it was really cool to beat them this early in the season. I think it really gave us momentum and showed that we could go against some really good wrestlers.”
Kent County holds many of the most talented and experienced wrestlers in the state and even in the nation, holding the Kent County Classic to high standards. Many teams throughout the area come to FHC’s gym to participate, which makes it a highly anticipated event.
“The Kent County Classic is really special because of how long it has been going on,” junior Cam Roth said. “The 23 teams that compete decide its tradition, which makes the competition even more exciting. The fact that Caden managed to get three pins against some of the best wrestlers in the state really shows his abilities.”
Although the Ranger wrestlers competed in every match and were very successful, junior Caden Jacobs took all of the glory in the Kent County Classic. He battled the whole day and had three pins en route to the first-places victory. Only a select few Ranger wrestlers have ever won this event, including coach Anderson. This achievement was huge for both Caden and the program, as they also had Bryce who finished in fifth place at 135 and Isaac who fought for bronze before his unfortunate knee injury forced a forfeit.
“I have been working super hard to get a win like the Kent County Classic,” Caden said. “Getting that third pin was one of the best feelings of all time. The wrestler I went against was from Lowell, who is known for their wrestling, so it was really cool to get a win over him.”
Caden also went undefeated with his teammate in junior Mason Childers at the Mount Pleasant Invitational where the Rangers beat Shepherd but lost to Mount Pleasant 42-40. Shortly after was a thrilling match against Forest Hills Northern where FHC won in a sixth criteria tie-breaker.
Later on, the Rangers had a few disappointing losses to Shelby and Grant, but they avenged it with a huge win over Cedar Springs, who is known to have a very talented program. Senior night followed this match, which the Rangers ended 1-1 with a loss to Lowell but a win against Northview. They finished their regular season with wins against Shelby and Mona Shores, which brought them into the postseason events.
Juniors Mason Corcoran, Bryce, and Caden all made it through to Individual Regionals where they were unfortunately knocked out. After a long and hard-fought season, these three managed to compete in events that many dream of; this opportunity stemmed from their disciplined practices and competitive spirits. As a team, the Rangers were knocked out of districts by Caledonia 44-22, which ended their season.
“A few of our goals at the beginning of the season were to have 15 or more dual victories, place top two at Rangerbrawl, and beat our rivals,” Brad said. “Fortunately, we were able to win the FHE tourney, have a 19-9 varsity record, obtain a second-place finish at Rangerbrawl, and we had wins over most of our rivals. All of these were direct results from the resilience of our wrestlers and togetherness we hold as a team, and I can’t wait to see how these young men grow up.”