The 45th annual Rogers Holiday Wrestling Tournament on Saturday saw some familiar faces win championships while only one Rams wrestler walked away with a title at the end.
It all came down to senior Tre Killings and match with Kentwood’s Yonas Meshesha in the 285-pound final.
By the time Killings reached his match, his teammates were 0 for 5 in their finals matches, making his match with Meshesha the only thing preventing Rogers from ending its home tournament with a giant goose egg.
After outlasting Meshesha and winning the championship with a 2-0 decision, Killings gave Rogers its only title at its home tournament.
“I didn’t even know that we didn’t have a championship yet,” Killings said. “I didn’t watch the little guys wrestle, so I wasn’t aware that we hadn’t won a championship yet. It feels good to win my first title here.”
And 45 years after the tournament began, Killings can say he was the lone Ram to walk away with a title.
There were some familiar teams that brought their talent to the tournament as programs such as 3A PCL’s Bethel, 4A NPSL’s Kent-Meridian as well as new 4A SPSL league opponent Bellarmine Prep.
“We’re very fortunate to have the support of some of the schools who have been coming to this tournament when Rogers started the tournament 45 years ago,” Rogers coach David Johnston said. “Our program has always had a very good relationship with Bethel as well as with Bellarmine and Kent-Meridian. For them to support our tournament like they have means a lot to us here at Rogers.”
Bethel took first place with 237.5 points, with Kentwood coming in second (216.5) and Rogers in third (185).
Bethel senior Dante Springsteen came in the weekend as one of the top wrestlers in the state (No. 2-ranked at 152 pounds in 3A), and after years of wrestling alongside his brother, Phillip, against Rogers’ Ty and Troy Wilson, this tournament and gym has become a familiar place for him.
“I always loved coming to face Rogers because they always have a good program,” Springsteen said. “Whenever I think about Rogers, I think about the Wilson twins and the Springsteens going at it in some tough matches. Hard-fought matches.”
Sprinsteen proved just as tough this year as the Bethel wrestler took home the 170-pound championship after picking up a 15-2 major decision over Lewis & Clark’s Schon Kyle.
Rogers had a bit of misfortune to open the tournament as the Rams faced tough matches that neutralized many of them in the finals.
After Rogers dropped its first two matches in the finals, Isaiah Calvo couldn’t keep up his momentum in his 113-pound finals match against Kentwood’s Steven Bounyavong.
“My shots were too straight at him. I started to get predicable and he just fought me off,” Calvo said.
After Calvo dropped a few points, the Ram wrestler kept trying to push for a shot to go for a double-leg takedown and grab two points, Bounyavong was able to play keep-away and swat away each attempt.
“I saw that he was trying to go straight at me, trying to get a quick few points. I knew he had to do that, so I kept blocking each shot he made,” Bounyavong said.