2-Sport All-Stater Ringler Eyes Repeat

January 23, 2019

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

CEDAR SPRINGS – Ryan Ringler’s wrestling journey has spanned nearly 14 years and included countless miles on the road traveling to tournaments, practices and college recruiting visits.

These experiences came with costs, both social and monetary, and the Cedar Springs senior standout has done what he could to help fund his dream.

Mowing lawns, roofing, painting and installing sprinklers are some of the odd jobs Ringler picked up to earn money.

“I do whatever jobs I can get to raise money because these trips are very expensive,” Ringler said.

All of Ringler’s hard work on and off the mat was rewarded as he recently committed to wrestle at Central Michigan University.

A dream was finally realized, and it took the help of a small town community to make it a reality.

“I’m really happy for him and his whole family because it’s been a goal he’s had for a long time,” Cedar Springs wrestling coach Nick Emery said. “The goal was to get Ryan to a Division I school to see what he could do and to prove that all the hard work and time and money and his parents driving all over the country was worth it.

“Just everyone coming together, and going out of their way to raise money. A lot of people were involved, and it was a community project at times.”

Ringler’s passion for wrestling started at age 3 when he would go to practices with his older brother, Jordan.

He started competing himself shortly after and quickly developed into a young talent.

For Ringler, traveling to various tournaments is fun.

“I like to travel around, and just getting to know the different guys from different schools and getting to see different styles and techniques of wrestling intrigued me,” Ringler said. “That’s what made me fall in love with the sport.”

Ringler competed in MYWAY wrestling and earned five state championships on the circuit. He garnered attention the summer before his freshman year – he took part in several national tournaments, and went unbeaten at the prestigious Virginia Beach duals.

Ringler’s success continued at the high school level.

As a freshman making his first trip to the MHSAA Individual Finals, Ringler lost his first match but rallied to win the next five en route to a third-place finish.

He also placed third as a sophomore, but broke through last season and won a Division 2 crown at 171 pounds with a 9-4 decision over Holly’s Cade Dallwitz to finish the winter a stellar 53-1.

“I was really expecting to be at the top my sophomore year, but that loss really motivated me and I wanted to be at least a two-time state champion,” Ringler said.

As a senior, Ringler is eyeing a repeat performance at the Finals. He’s currently 31-0 and nearing 200 career wins.

“Right now it’s more about getting ready for college wrestling,” Ringler said. “As a senior it would be cool to win another state title to end my career.”

Ringler has another talented teammate beside him this season. Sage Serbenta, a junior, finished fifth at the Finals last season competing for Grand Rapids Christian and wrestles at 189 pounds.

“He’s gotten bigger and he’s pushing me with his speed and strength,” Ringler said. “It makes us both better with conditioning, and we push each other mentally and physically.”

Emery has high hopes for both wrestlers.

“Sage has pushed Ryan in practices, and I think both of those guys could win state titles at either 171 or 189 pounds,” Emery said. “They have as good a chance as anybody else.”

Ringler’s wrestling prowess matches his elite skills on the football field.

A four-year varsity football player, he helped lead the Red Hawks to a 10-2 record in the fall. As a fierce linebacker, he racked up 110 tackles while rushing for nearly 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. He received all-state honors to go along with his all-state accolades in wrestling.

“Ryan has been a very successful multi-sport athlete, and his success on the field and on the mat is not by accident,” Cedar Springs athletic director John Norton said. “He’s a tireless worker, always doing extra to gain the competitive edge. The most exciting thing is that he is showing a generation of athletes that it is possible to be a standout in multiple sports at the highest level and earn a college scholarship without specialization.”

Achieving all-state status in multiple sports is another level of accomplishment, and Ringler is humbled by the honors.

“It’s very unique, and a lot of people don’t get all-state in both wrestling and football,” he said. “It’s a tough thing to do in two very difficult sports. It’s a nice accomplishment, and something I can put on my wall when I’m older.”

Dean Holzwarth covered primarily high school sports for the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years and more recently served as sports editor of the Ionia Sentinel and as a sports photojournalist for WZZM. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Cedar Springs’ Ryan Ringler prepares to make his first move during last season’s Division 2 championship match at 171 pounds at Ford Field. (Middle) Ringler (24) pushes ahead this fall against Saginaw Swan Valley. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

May 26, 2023

Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.

The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).

Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.

See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:

8-Player Football

Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.

On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.

A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.

Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.

Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.

Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.

Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).

Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.

Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.

Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.

PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)