With Another Big Finish, Delton Kellogg's Ferris Can Match Dad's Finals Feat

By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com

February 24, 2022

DELTON — Nearing the end of a stellar four-year wrestling career, Caden Ferris has just one complaint: Not enough mat time.

That is not a knock on his coach, but a nod at his record.

The Delton Kellogg senior will take a 45-0 record into next weekend’s MHSAA Division 4 Individual Wrestling Finals at Ford Field.

Of those wins, 32 came by pins with just one match making it to the second period. The other 13 were by forfeit.

Although he talks of “more mat time,” he will definitely take the pins as he works toward repeating at 215 pounds.

If that happens, he will become just the second wrestler in school history with two Individual Finals titles.

The other one? His dad, Rollie Ferris, who won in 1992 and 1993.

In fact, wrestling is the Ferris family’s legacy at Delton Kellogg.

Ferris’ brother, Tyden, was a two-time Finals runner-up (2016, 2018), and his uncle, Billy Ferris, has one championship (2001).

“It’s always been in the family, and I’ve always been going to my brother’s practices and tournaments,” said Caden Ferris, who started wrestling in sixth grade.

“I sometimes wrestle my brother in the backyard, but not a lot. He’s four years ahead of me.”

Wrestling his dad has a different spin. 

“He tried once. It didn’t work out in his favor,” he added laughing.

During his freshman year, Ferris posted a 36-19 record, and those losses fueled his desire to win even more.

His sophomore season he improved to 38-3, and last year, 33-2. Total, he’s 152-24 heading into his final weekend of high school competition.

Following a familiar path

Rollie Ferris began wrestling in third grade, but honed his skills early, growing up on a farm with five brothers.

“We’re just always competitive,” he said. “When I had the chance to start wrestling in third or fourth grade, it was just a natural for me.

Delton Kellogg wrestling“I always enjoyed competing, then you get your hand raised, and then you get medals. It was awesome.”

Rollie Ferris’ journey did not start out “awesome.”

“My very first time wrestling (as a third grader), I got thrown on my back in a headlock by a kid I didn’t know at the time,” he recalled. “I was crying.”

His skills improved immensely from that first pin to his two Finals titles in high school.

Although he attended Central Michigan University on a football scholarship, he wrestled for coach Tom Borrelli for two of those years.

Borrelli is still coaching at CMU, where Tyden is a senior on the football team.

Because of that connection, “I’ve always been up at CMU and wrestling with them and getting to know the coaches since I was real little,” Caden Ferris said.

So when Coach Borrelli called to offer his son a four-year wrestling scholarship, “I was in awe because I know that wrestling doesn’t always get all that,” Rollie Ferris said. “Caden was offered before he even got a state championship last year.”

Having Ferris on the Delton Kellogg team is a tremendous asset, coach Dan Phillips said.

Delton Kellogg wrestling“You can always count on six (points) from him when he goes on the mat.” he said. “He’s a great leader on our team and vocal on the bench.

“He’s a pretty good physical specimen. He’s tall, he’s strong, he’s lanky. He’s well-coordinated. He’s very athletic.”

As for so many pins, “He’s relentless. If you make a mistake on the mat, he’ll capitalize on it. Plus he’s strong.

“The kids aren’t trying to get pinned. They can’t help it. That’s his attitude when he gets out there. He’s going to take them down and pin them. There’s no question about that. That’s his attitude.”

Full family effort

With several young, inexperienced wrestlers on the team, Phillips said this is a rebuilding year.

While the Panthers did not qualify for Team Regionals, four other wrestlers competed individually including junior Joelle White (110) in the MHSAA’s first-ever girls tournament. Junior Gage Vincent (119) will join Ferris at Ford Field.

To prepare, Ferris has followed his dad’s advice.

“I do a lot of running, bike, weight training, a lot of mat time, drilling with anybody I can find to throw around,” he said.

“I’m wrestling seven days a week including Grand Rapids, with all sorts of coaches.”

Delton Kellogg wrestlingHis dad said that takes a lot of dedication.

“I’m extremely proud of him, not only for the wins but he wants to put the work in,” he said. 

“We live in Delton, which is an hour to anything so you have to be willing to be in the car and go places to do things. He’s willing to do all that.”

Caden Ferris’ mother, Marie, has been witness to it all.

“I call her my kids’ free agent,” Rollie Ferris said. “She’s just out there pushing for them, talking to people and setting up stuff constantly.

“She’s been with me since I was 16, so she watched both me win state twice and Billy win.”

She has also been there to cheer on her sons and daughter, Faith, in their sports endeavors.

One thing their father has learned is “not to be mat side with them so much,” he said. “The coaches do a good job with them.

“I’ve learned with my three kids to let other people coach. I want to be their dad, although I still probably am a little bit more intense than I should be.”

Once his son graduates in the spring, there will be a lull in the Ferris family wrestling tradition at Delton Kellogg until Rollie’s nephew Mason gets to high school. A sixth grader, Mason is also a wrestler.

For Caden Ferris, before the pomp of graduation, there are a few hurdles to face to go with next week’s big opportunity.

Rollie Ferris knows, in spite of his son’s success, nothing is guaranteed.

“As a dad, I’m always nervous there’s somebody in the closet that we don’t know,” he said. “Just like I tell these kids all the time, to be somebody, you’ve got to beat somebody.

“If I’m somebody out there wanting to wrestle Caden, if I’m his dad, I’m telling him we’ve got to beat this kid. He’s gonna be sitting up there not hungry. He’s got to beat the guy in the mirror.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at pamkzoo@aol.com with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Delton Kellogg’s Caden Ferris, in maroon, works to control his opponent during last season’s Division 4 championship match at 215 pounds. (2) Caden Ferris and his father Rollie Ferris. (3) Panthers coach Dan Phillips. (4) Caden Ferris holds up his chart during last season’s medal ceremony. (Action shots by HighSchoolSportsScene.com; head shot by Pam Shebest.)

'Bigger, Stronger, Faster' Greenville Climbing Among Wrestling's Elite

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com

January 19, 2023

GREENVILLE – Several factors have contributed to the current success of the Greenville wrestling team.

Mid-MichiganHowever, one aspect of the program has been quite noticeable.

“I’ve received compliments by referees and other coaches just about how much bigger, stronger and faster they look now,” Yellow Jackets wrestling coach Brett Peterman said. “Greenville athletics, and the culture with Rick Court and our strength program, has changed. He has done an amazing job of getting the kids into lifting, and we have a great coaching staff."

“A lot of the sports are getting better now because of it, and our strength programs are loaded with kids now lifting, including at the middle school level.”

The Yellow Jackets recently jumped into the top 10 of the Division 2 state rankings after winning their fifth invitational of the season last week at Hudsonville Unity Christian. 

An enhanced strength program, coupled with a diligent work ethic by a relatively young group, has signaled a turnaround for the better.

“We just have a great group of kids,” Peterman said. “The kids are coachable, they work hard and we are just seeing the results of that.”

Junior standout Nayte Dobson, who’s currently unbeaten at 24-0 wrestling at 157 and 165 pounds, said Court is a valuable piece to the winning puzzle that has been constructed.

“He always has good enthusiasm and good energy no matter what,” said Dobson, who placed seventh at last year’s Division 2 Individual Finals.

Yellow Jackets coach Brett Peterman guides one of his competitors. “He gives us time to work out, whether it’s zero hour, or after school. Whenever you want to work out, he’s there. He will come from his house to unlock the doors.”

Court’s workouts are specifically designed to help the wrestlers reach their full potential and give them an advantage.

“He puts us through good workouts that involve speed and acceleration training,” Dobson said. “You can definitely see the bursts we have out on the mat.”

The list of accomplishments so far this season has included wins at the Greenville Invitational, the Hudsonville Invitational, the Unity Christian Invitational, the Fruitport Invitational and the Pinckney Duals.

“There have been some good teams in those tournaments and good challenges for the kids,” Peterman said. “Winning is good, but the work never stops.”

Peterman anticipated success this season, despite the departure of key seniors.

The addition of a large incoming freshman class has boosted numbers and anticipation for the future.

“I thought we could have a good year,” Peterman said. “We had a lot of returners, including a few state qualifiers and some who fell just short.

“They worked hard in the offseason, and with the freshmen coming in, I figured we would be pretty good. I was amazed that we had 23 freshmen come in. That’s a big group.”

The Yellow Jackets possess talent up and down the weight classes, with several wrestlers posting impressive records.

Another Greenville grappler takes down an opponent.Sophomore Caleb Lewis, a backup last season, has emerged and is 26-0 at 106 pounds.

Other top performers include junior Liam Dailey (23-2) at 138/144 pounds, sophomore Case Johnson (24-2) at 215 pounds, sophomore Kamden Witte (23-3) at 113 pounds and freshman Alex Buskirk (26-1) at 126 pounds.

“We are a very young team, but they’ve come in with a chip on their shoulder and they are working hard every day,” Dobson said. “How they work in the wrestling loft is showing out on the mat right now, and we are just giving them guidance and helping them out when we can.

“I expected this, and I knew this was going to be a good year for us because of the guys coming back and the freshmen.”

The Yellow Jackets will wrestle at the Ottawa-Kent Conference White championships, against a field that includes eight-time reigning team champion Lowell.

“It’s tough when you have a powerhouse like Lowell in your conference,” Peterman said. “There’s a possibility that we will see them several times in the upcoming weeks, and it will be a big challenge. We are going to do what’s right for the team on Friday and see how the results come about.”

The Red Arrows provide Greenville with a measuring stick, and they are eager to see how they fare against the best in the state.

“Lowell is just stacked all around and it’s going to be tough, but we also have to get through Byron Center, which has gone both ways this season,” Dobson said. “If we can see improvement from last year’s Districts to now against Lowell, then it gives us a good checkpoint of where we are at.”

Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at dream100@comcast.net with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties. 

PHOTOS (Top) Greenville wrestler Isaac Daily celebrates a win during a match this season. (Middle) Yellow Jackets coach Brett Peterman guides one of his competitors. (Below) Greenville's Troy Courtney takes down an opponent. (Photos by Jamie McNinch Photography.)