HFC wrestler grapples his way to the podium
HFC wrestler Donte Rivera-Garcia emerged victorious at the Ben McMullen Open, held at Muskegon Community College earlier this month.
“It was a pretty tough tournament. The bracket’s stacked with good wrestlers,” said Rivera-Garcia, of Allen Park, a 2017 alumnus of Southgate Anderson High School who’s in his first year at HFC.
The McMullen Open hosted several college and university teams. Rivera-Garcia’s weight class (125 lbs.) included top-ranked National Junior College Athletic Association wrestler Tommy Russell of Triton College in River Grove, IL, as well as Jacob Bell of Niagara County Community College in Sanborn, NY. Bell was ranked No. 7 in the NJCAA.
Both Russell and Bell were defeated by the opponents Rivera-Garcia faced. In the semifinals, Rivera-Garcia defeated Austin Wieczorek of Alma College, who defeated Bell. In the finals, he defeated Kameron Kempker of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, who defeated Russell.
“I was looking forward to wrestling those two other guys, who were major contenders, but my opponents beat them and I had to wrestle them instead. I had to change my focus and approach it one match at a time. I knew it would be tough,” said Rivera-Garcia.
Rivera-Garcia beat Wieczorek in overtime and Kempker 10-2 by a major decision.
“I felt good to able win in that bracket with that caliber of wrestlers,” he said. “Now, I can keep the ball rolling for the rest of the season.”
Proving his worth
Rivera-Garcia is the second Hawk to win at the McMullen Open, said HFC wrestling coach Grant MacKenzie. Diallo Matsimela won in 2016.
Rivera-Garcia is the first Hawk to win the Adrian Invitational at Adrian College.
“We’re really building the wrestling program here at HFC. Downriver’s a hotbed for wrestling. We’re trying to get more Downriver guys to consider our program. It's a good program, and we’re focused on improving it even more,” said Rivera-Garcia.
“Donte is proof that local wrestlers do not have to move away from home to wrestle at the collegiate level,” said MacKenzie. “I’m grateful he chose HFC. I am impressed with his leadership skills on this young team.”