Rochester High wrestling makes school’s first semifinal appearance
Rochester High wrestling coach Frank Lafferty had a simple message for his squad after falling in the Division 1 semifinals Feb. 23 in Battle Creek.
“I shook all their hands and thanked them for a great season, and told them to keep moving ahead,” Lafferty remembered. “This had never happened to a Rochester team before, and we were really blessed. They did as well as they could. They did Rochester proud.”
The Falcons’ 48-13 loss to eventual state champ Novi Detroit Catholic Central marked the furthest the program had ever advanced in the postseason.
“They’re a pretty good team, pretty tough, but I think we’re tough, too,” Lafferty said of Catholic Central. “They wrestled their hearts out. On that day, Catholic Central was just better than we were.”
Rochester led after the opening match, getting a decision from Shwan Shadaia, but the Shamrocks took the next two matches, including one by pin to take control.
Along with Shadaia, Justin Kim, Josh Woods and Kaelan Richards won matches for Rochester.
“We had to have everything go well. That’s what it takes to upset a really good team like theirs,” the coach said.
In its quarterfinal match Feb. 22, the Falcons beat Temperance Bedford 37-24. Earlier in the season and plagued by injuries, Rochester had lost to the Kicking Mules by two points.
“It was awesome. We thought we were a better team, but we didn’t know for sure,” Lafferty said. “It was a great feeling winning. It was nice being around the elite teams, and I thought that we belonged. The kids loved it.”
In the quarterfinals, the Falcons trailed 15-6 before winning seven of the next 10 matches, getting victories from Kim, Wood, Joseph Gunther, Richards, Dillon Maier, Aaron Morgan, Dean Vettese, Shane Shadaia and Shwan Shadaia.
“It was nice for the kids to get their due for what they deserve. We’ve had a nice team for the last couple of years. The kids went out in a really great way,” Lafferty said.