INDIANA, Pa. – The end of Devin Schroder's wrestling season has definitely been better than the start.
The Grand Rapids Catholic Central sophomore has had an incredible March and April, winning his second straight MHSAA individual state championship, when he took first at 119 pounds in Division 3 early last month.
And he followed that up by becoming Michigan's only champion at the brutal Flonationals tournament, which was wrestled this past weekend at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
Schroder won the title at 113 pounds when he beat nationally ranked Vito Arujau in the finals, 7-3.
“It was a grinder,” Schroder said. “(Flonationals) was the toughest tournament I ever won.”
At the start of the year it didn't look like Schrdoer was going to win his second state title, let alone win a national championship.
His season started at the Grappler Fall Classic, and there he went 3-2 and didn't even place.
“I definitely wasn't ready for the Grappler Fall Classic,” Schroder said. “I was still in football (he played defensive back for GR Catholic Central's junior varsity team), but it was still an eye opener.”
And when the high school season rolled around, GR Catholic Central made a trip to Ohio to take part in the Brecksville Invitational.
There he lost twice again, and then some doubt started to creep into the confidence Schroder showed when he went 53-0 and won the 112-pound title during his freshman season.
“I had been 66-0 in high school, and then I lose two matches,” Schroder said. “I had some doubt, because it was not what I was use to. I was worried that I wasn't progressing, and people were catching me.”
So Schroder tapped into the work ethic that made him such a great wrestler to start with – a wrestler that won a middle school title at Super 32, one that earned All American status at Flonationals two years ago as an eighth grader and one that had a stellar youth career, both in the state and nationally.
“I pushed myself to work even harder,” Schroder said. “I put more time in it that I did before. I got in top shape, and at the end of the season I felt a lot better about myself.”
It showed on the mat, as he won his state title at The Palace last month with an impressive win over Leslie's Kanen Storr, 5-2.
And then this past weekend he went 6-0, with wins over kids from Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, including Arujau in the finals.
“He had a really solid tournament,” said former four-time Michigan state champion Kyle Waldo, who along with former Rockford teammate J.J. Johnson, served at Schroder's coach for the weekend. “He was consistent every match.”
And a work in game planning.
“He came out on top because Devin wrested his match,” Waldo said. “He didn't go out and worry about who he was wrestling, he just wrestled his match.
“I told him before every match that he was the best 112-pounder in the country, and he was in control in every match and proved it.”
One person missing in Schroder's corner this weekend was his father, GR Catholic Central coach B.J. Schroder, who stayed home with his family and watched his son's matches on their computer.
“We are at a point now, at these national meets, he can wrestle without me,” B.J. Schroder said. “We talked and text all weekend.
“I have a wife and two more boys at home, and it was neat sitting with my wife (Jenny) and watching him win,” he added. “And he had Kyle and J.J., so he had everything he needed.”
Now what for Devin Schroder?
“Next for em, I want to qualify for state in the pole vault,” said Schrdoer, who is on the Cougars' track team this spring. “And I want to get ready for football. As far as wrestling, I'm going to take a little break, but I may go to the Disney Duals in June.”