It wasn’t the full lineup for Rochester High wrestling, but coach Frank Lafferty was proud of his squad in the Division 1 regional semifinal at home.
The Falcons took on Oxford High and lost 57-18. The Wildcats then went on to beat Clarkston High 45-16 for the title.
“(Oxford) wrestled really well. No one wrestled really bad for us; they just outwrestled us and did a nice job. They hammered Clarkston, too,” Lafferty said. “I was very proud of the way they wrestled, but just with injuries and things like that, it put us behind the eight ball. We wrestled with heart out there. We were just outgunned. They gave me everything they had, and more. I was very proud of the team. I’m a coach, I want to win, so I’m disappointed, but not in the kids. They all wrestled hard.”
Rochester was missing three starters in the lineup, putting up to eight sophomores in the rotation, which the coach believes will only help for next season.
“I think the kids will be surprised how good they’ll be next year, because they are battle-tested,” Lafferty said. “They have a lot of experience that you just can’t teach in the room. They were thrown in the fire and came out OK, no damage done.”
Overall, Rochester finished the year third in the Oakland Activities Association Red Division and with the program’s second straight district title.
Lafferty’s lineup from the beginning was much different than he anticipated. He said he had six grapplers who were expected to be starters from last season not on the team due to various reasons.
“That changed the whole atmosphere — the heartbeat of our room. We had a lot of young guys step up and have pressure on them that they wouldn’t have normally had,” Lafferty said. “They did well, though, but they didn’t have time to prepare for it, but they always gave their best and never backed down.”
The coach added that his senior class was a great example for the younger grapplers.
“They knew going in that it was going to be tough, and they stuck with the team and taught the kids about loyalty, about caring about your team, not giving up and realizing there is something more important in life than yourselves,” Lafferty said.
Individually, three Falcons still have time on the mat left. Shwan Shadaia, Shane Shadaia and Cameron Daniels qualified for the state final Feb. 27 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.