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 dream100@comcast.net 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.)

For Their Teams, For Each Other, St. Mary Seniors Team Up 2 More Times

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

March 17, 2023

Shawn Bramer and Dylan Barnowski, as middle schoolers, attended the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals every year.

Northern Lower PeninsulaLast year, they nearly played in the Division 3 title game – falling in a Semifinal but almost making a dream come true for the then-juniors and their Lake Leelanau St. Mary coach, Matt Barnowski, also Dylan’s father.

That dream began for some when the boys were coached by Matt as third graders, and they made serious strides last season. Before last winter, the last time the Eagles had won a Regional championship was 1950 – and no St. Mary boys basketball team had reached the Semifinals. Bramer and Dylan Barnowski – along with current seniors Jack Glynn, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar – had high hopes of making more history this winter.

The dream ended Wednesday night with a Regional Final loss to Frankfort, which St. Mary had defeated 54-41 during the regular season. This time, the Eagles were faced with a large number of K-12 students succumbing to illness – with all five of its starters at least somewhat sick – as nearly a third of the school’s tiny enrollment was out of school the day after the loss to the Panthers.

But you won’t hear any of the players or coaches making excuses. They give all the credit to Frankfort, and they’re ready to move on. And many in the LSM family know reaching the Regional Finals this season and Breslin Center in 2022 had absolutely no probability had Bramer and Barnowski not made an iron-clad agreement last summer. 

Eagles coach Matt Barnowski coaches up his team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick.The two friends vowed to help each other despite their personal, opposing challenges.

Barnowski and Bramer, through LSM’s cooperative agreement with Suttons Bay, went 3-for-3 playing in 8-Player Division 1 Football Finals during their first three years of high school. But through last summer Barnowski, who quarterbacked the Norseman, had no interest in football.  

Bramer, meanwhile, had been nursing a quad tendon injury since his sophomore football season and battling two bad knees but was thinking he could suffer though football and sit out the basketball season to recover. The all-state running back experienced training difficulties and even had his strength training severely hampered.

Football was king for Bramer, and he also loved basketball too. Basketball is number one to Barnowski. The longtime friends decided cut a deal to help each other — and their teammates — out.

“I was kind of on the edge,” said Bramer, who plays with braces on both knees. “After talking to each other, we both ended up just playing. 

“I really shouldn’t be playing sports, but I couldn’t miss out playing with my friends,” he continued. “We just figured it was our last season so we might as well just do it.”

Dylan Barnowski and Brammer also teamed up during successful football careers. Barnowski had been considering ending his football days immediately after the Norse fell short in their third-straight trip to the Finals, at Superior Dome in Marquette in Fall 2021. That loss was at the hands of Adrian Lenawee Christian 31-20.

The Norseman graduated most of their offensive and defense lines last spring and expected to be small in numbers. Until this fall, they had lost only one regular-season game on their way to three straight title game appearances. This year they finished 3-5.

The big linemen losses — Barnowski’s protection — was forcing him to weigh his injury risk against having a senior basketball season.

“We did it for each other,” Barnowski said. “I talked with Shawn, and we knew we had a big community behind us and it would be hard for them if we just quit. 

“I knew we weren’t going to have the same powerhouse team we had,” he continued. “We weren’t very good this year, but we still had a blast.”

This week’s loss put an end to the possible Breslin championship finish, but it left the friends happy with the decision to play both sports. The Eagles finished 20-4.

Barnowski led St. Mary in scoring. He averaged better than 20 points a game with more than seven rebounds and five assists. Bramer averaged just under 15 points per game, and almost 10 rebounds.

The two big men each scored 11 in the season-ending loss. Thompson scored 14. This year’s senior-dominated team likely will be remembered for its basketball success for some time. Barnowski, Bramer and Glynn experienced only one loss in District play over their four seasons.

“It’s a really special groups of kids,” Coach Barnowski said. “These kids kind of transformed St. Mary’s basketball.  

St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Brammer, Jack Gwynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. “They’ve really built the program,” he continued. “It’s been a roller coaster ride.”

Bramer and Dylan Barnowski also played baseball in the past for the Eagles, but that likely won’t happen this spring. Barnowski plans to golf, and Bramer expects to sit the spring season out and heal.

“We’ll never forget these last four years of varsity we played,” Barnowski said. “I‘ve decided to go a more relaxing route, and I’m going for some golf.”

With their Breslin dream over, the friends are ready to enjoy the St. Mary’s community support and move on. They’re bummed so many were sick in the end but won’t use it as an excuse.

“Hats off to Frankfort,” Barnowski said. “They did an incredible job of shutting us down.”

Bramer agreed.

“They just played their game better than we did,” he said. “They took the lead at the end of the third quarter, and it was a battle from there.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at tomspencer@chartermi.net with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) St. Mary’s seniors Dylan Barnowski, left, and Shawn Bramer hold up the team’s District championship trophy last week. (2) Eagles coach Matt Barnowski, center, and assistant Sander Scott coach up their team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick. (3) Dylan Barnowski and Bramer also teamed up during successful football careers. (4) St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Bramer, Jack Glynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. (Sideline photo by Tom Spencer; player photos by Emmerson Lamb Photography.)