Rochester Adams senior ready to compete at individual state finals

By: Timothy Pontzer | Rochester Post | Published February 28, 2017

 Rochester Adams senior Ben Petersmark poses in front of the Highlanders logo on Feb. 23 in the school’s auxiliary gymnasium. Petersmark has compiled a 23-3 record this season and is heading to the individual state championships as a heavyweight.

Rochester Adams senior Ben Petersmark poses in front of the Highlanders logo on Feb. 23 in the school’s auxiliary gymnasium. Petersmark has compiled a 23-3 record this season and is heading to the individual state championships as a heavyweight.

Photo by Timothy Pontzer

ROCHESTER HILLS — For the first time in a dozen years, Rochester Adams will send a heavyweight to the individual state championships.

Senior Ben Petersmark will have the honor, representing the Highlanders at The Palace of Auburn Hills March 2-4 in the 285-pound class for the first time since Steve Thatcher did in 2005.

“Since I was a freshman, I’ve had the goal of making it to The Palace,” Petersmark said. “I’ve come really close a few times, but fallen short. To do it my senior year means a lot, and I definitely could not have done it without all of the help that Adams has provided me.”

As a sophomore, Petersmark was defeated by the ultimate tiebreaker in the third overtime in the blood round, losing out on a Palace trip by a single point. That and other close calls served as motivation for his senior campaign.

“Losing that way definitely gave me motivation,” Petersmark said. “It also taught me to really work at getting better. I love the competition, but at first I used to kind of rush things and pin people really fast. Now I’ve learned how to wrestle smart.”

Adams coach Mike Holtz praised Petersmark, citing his mental game on the mat as a huge reason for his success.

“Ben really understands the chess-not-checkers approach,” Holtz said. “He’s fantastic mentally and very methodical. He goes in like a surgeon, having a game plan for every match. Our team motto is “Believe in yourself,” and he is big on that, and you can see it in his game.”

“I’m very confident every time I go out,” Petersmark added. “Coach Holtz has really helped me with that. When I was younger, I didn’t understand as much and didn’t always believe in myself. He has helped me to grow up, and when I listened to him, many things started to click.”

In addition to his mental prowess, Holtz pointed to Petersmark’s physical abilities as another reason for many of the victories, especially the way his heavyweight stays in shape.

“His cardio is second to none for heavyweights,” Holtz said. “He’s a 6-foot-3, 245-pound, put-together heavyweight, definitely not a normal heavyweight wrestler. He’s lean, strong and has great cardio, which makes him hard to score on, especially with his quick feet.”

“I’ve always taken pride in my fitness,” Petersmark added. “I work really hard to stay in shape, because it helps with the endurance. At the end of a long match, when I can see the other guy is tired, I don’t have to worry about that.”

Petersmark started wrestling to help with football, serving as a linebacker and offensive guard for the Highlanders for three seasons.

“I thought wrestling would be able to keep me in shape in the offseason, but soon I fell in love with wrestling,” Petersmark said. “I’m really glad I joined.”

Petersmark initially eyed potential college opportunities on the gridiron, but his grappling success — including a 23-3 record and an Oakland Activities Association Red Division individual championship this season — have earned looks from the next level for wrestling.

“Ben’s passion had been football, but when one door shuts another opens,” Holtz said. “With his athleticism and size, there are definitely opportunities for him in college.”

He led a senior class that has captured three straight team district championships, a feat that Holtz said would not be possible without a consistent threat in Petersmark.

“With Ben at upper weight, he is someone we can always rely on,” Holtz said. “That is so valuable to have in that spot, knowing we never had to void or simply give away points.”

In order to advance to The Palace, Petersmark had to top rivals from Rochester High and Clarkston High, besting the same two heavyweights in the league championship and regional finals. To prepare for the top flight competition, he has been sparring with Matt Hart, a 2010 Adams graduate who placed twice at states before wrestling at the University of Michigan. He hopes to follow in Hart’s footsteps, earning All-State honors by placing in the top eight of his class.

“I’m healthy and feeling good heading to The Palace,” Petersmark said. “I really think I have a chance to place, and it would mean a lot to do it for myself, my coaches and Adams.”