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Busy week for wrestling includes induction of first two hall of fame members

by Justin Scott

contributing reporter

499 wins is an impressive statistic, but it only scrapes the surface of the legacy left by the late Lowell wrestling coach Gary Rivers. He was one of the first two members inducted into the newly created Lowell wrestling hall of fame. Rivers, fondly called “Chief” by many, coached the Lowell program from 1960 until his death in 1998. He amassed 20 conference titles, 14 district titles and many other accomplishments during his time at LHS.

Gary Rivers and Joe Mendez were inducted into the hall of fame Friday night at LHS in the intermission of the program’s “wrestlemania” event.  In front of nearly 100 Lowell wrestling alumni, Rivers, represented by his son Mike, was presented with a quarter-zip jacket by current head wrestling coach R.J. Boudro. A plaque is being created for those inducted in the hall of fame where both Rivers and Mendez’s names will be etched.

“It was a really powerful night for the Lowell wrestling program,” Coach Boudro told us. “The turnout was great and the environment was electric. We had alumni in the house from the 1960’s and we had 6-year-olds wrestling next to the varsity wrestlers, just an all-around cool event.”

Joe Mendez, Lowell’s first four-time individual state champion and a two-time team state champion was also inducted at the event. He earned 211 wins during his four years as a Red Arrow.

“Joe Mendez and Gary Rivers are names that will live on forever in Lowell and that is a well-deserved honor,” added Coach Boudro.

The program’s “wrestlemania” event was a celebration of the sport of wrestling as three duals would go on at the same time involving Lowell’s high school and youth programs against Clinton’s. In the varsity match, the Red Arrows coasted through Division 4’s number one-ranked program by a score of 52-12.

The dual started with wins by Derek Mohr, Keegan Nugent and Tyler DeLooff giving LHS an 11-0 lead. Clinton would strike back with a pin at 103 in a match that was in double overtime. The Red Arrows would go on another run including wins by Ramsy Mutschler, Nick Korhorn, James Link, and a void awarded to Cole Huisman before Clinton would score again. Zeth Strejc was leading for LHS at 135 before being caught in a headlock and pinned. 

From there it was all Lowell who closed the match on 23-0 run thanks to wins by Will Link, Austin Boone, James Fotis, Doak Dean and Jacob Lee. Lee’s win was especially impressive, a 12-3 major over the highest-ranked competitor in his weight class in Division 4.

Saturday was more difficult for Lowell as they faced Division 3’s Dundee and Division 2’s Davison. Both programs, nationally ranked, defeated the Red Arrows with Dundee winning 36-21 and Davison winning 41-21. Nearly every match over the weekend featured ranked wrestlers. 

Lowell would continue their quest toward an OK White championship by beating Northview 64-15, Ottawa Hills 75-6 and Greenville 51-24. Several wrestlers were able to rotate in for conference duals from a Lowell B squad who beat a state-ranked Leslie team on Saturday to win the Charlotte Duals title. 5-0 or 4-1 wrestlers from the day on Saturday included Nate Cleaver, Dom Peplinski, Carter Blough, Carson Crace, Grant Pratt and Jacob Hough. Several B team members who posted wins in the OK White duals included those mentioned previously as well as Steve Skinner, Easton Lyons, Bryce McCune, Jacob Cutler, Bryson Vandermeulen, Terrick Stewart and Josh Meier.

The varsity team will host yet another highly-ranked opponent in Brighton at their annual assembly dual this upcoming Friday in the Lowell Performing Arts Center.

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