Rochester High wrestling making gains

By: Christian Davis | Rochester Post | Published January 26, 2016


ROCHESTER — In his 12 years at Rochester High, last year was wrestling coach Frank Lafferty’s hardest.

After an appearance in the team state semifinal just three seasons ago, the program was seemingly coming apart at the seams.

From injuries and illnesses to wrestlers leaving the team, Rochester struggled. Lafferty said he only had six wrestlers to bring to last season’s county meet and finished 33rd, the worst showing of his career.

“Last year, we had been good all of those years before, and I was pretty impatient, a little gruff with my coaching, because I was living in the past,” he said. “After I settled down, and you battle with what you have, we had a really good end of the season.”

It was a lesson in facing adversity, and one that Lafferty and his grapplers that stayed remember.

“You’re never too old to learn,” the coach said. “If you don’t learn something every year, it’s time to go.”

At press time, the Falcons were 12-10 overall and 3-2 in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division. In the Oakland County Tournament this past December, the Falcons finished seventh, 26 places better than a year before.

Lafferty is quick to credit his current class of seniors — like captains Chris Russell, Sasha Wilson, Brandon Jones, DeMarco Howard, Noah Ternes and Kyle Birchmeier — for keeping the program together.

“Every bit of adversity we had last year, they went through it too. It wasn’t just me,” he said. “When the team collapses, it’s hard on everybody, but it made us a better team this year. I’m proud of the kids. They held it together.”

The senior class had inspiration to draw from. When they were freshmen, the Falcons made it to Battle Creek for the state finals.

“That’s always been the goal: to make it back there, because we saw how great it was,” Russell said. “So now that we’re seniors, we’re trying to set that same expectation for the freshmen to work for … not just accepting mediocrity.”

Ternes and Russell said the program is making a comeback.

“Going through the losses last year and all the people that left the team, it’s really rewarding to see everyone stick around (this season) and push through,” Ternes said. “It’s paying off.”

“We knew if we stuck together, we could be something special,” Russell added. “It’s starting to work out. We’re not at our full potential yet, but we’re definitely showing signs of what we can be.”

For more on wrestling, visit