Club wrestling comes away with success at Ben McMullen Open

Evan McMillin

It’s not always an easy task to win with an inexperienced roster, but the Grand Valley State University club wrestling team, lead by head coach Rick Bolhuis, has worked hard and, as a result, have continued grinding out wins this season.

“Well, we have a young team this year, a very young team this year and so some of them are still trying to transition from high school wrestling to college wrestling,” Bolhuis said. “But the guys have worked hard in the weight room, they’ve learned to be confident in certain situations that show up and they’ve responded well to the challenges, showing great improvement in only, what, three weeks?”

This past Friday the Lakers had two separate duals at Muskegon Community College: the first against Jamestown Community College and the second against Olivet University’s “B” team.

GVSU beat Jamestown handily by a final count of 37-9 with big days from freshman Carter Augustyn (149 lbs.), Donte Stevens (157 lbs.) and Shane Crawford (174 lbs.), with Stevens winning his match by pin.

The dual with Olivet was much tighter, resulting in a one-point victory for GVSU, 25-24. The major victories came from junior Kyle Horr (141 lbs.), along with freshman Gabe Stepanovich (149 lbs.), who both gained their victories by pin, while freshman Austin Geerlings (165 lbs.) and Stevens both won close matches that played a major role in the team’s victory.

The Lakers also had open matches Saturday and Sunday at Muskegon Community College and Michigan State University, respectively.

Saturday’s match was the Ben McMullen Open where the youth of the team continued to excel. Freshman Brian Turner (133 lbs.), Tyler Dempsy (141 lbs.), Jose Tamez (197 lbs.) and Bruce Rau (165 lbs.) all piled up a victory to their names while Stevens went 2-2 on the day. Sophomores Aaron Barker (149 lbs.) and Joe Stolp (125 lbs.) also added a win each for the Lakers.

The man in charge Saturday, however, was junior Kyle Horr, who had totaled four wins before the coaching staff decided to pull him from the finals match due to a jaw injury.

“We haven’t had a lot of time together, you know, at the beginning of the year,” Horr said. “You’re trying to get out there and judge kind of where everyone is at. But a lot of people have been implementing what we’ve been working on, you know, you see it in practice, you see it in practice, then you can go out and do it on the mat. I think a lot of the young guys are good at that right now.”

The matches at MSU proved to be a bit more challenging for the Lakers, as they went up against some of the top recruited freshmen and sophomores from DI, DII, and NAIA schools.

Augustyn went 3-2 and was just one match short of placing, while Stepanovich and Geerlings both went 2-2 on the day.

Bolhuis mentioned Stepanovich as one of the youthful wrestlers who is working hard to adjust himself to everyday collegiate wrestling.

Stepanovich said he had been more consistent throughout his matches, which has contributed to his success so far this season.
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