LOCKPORT – Two of the state’s top wrestling teams met Thursday evening and it was as good as advertised.
Host Lockport, ranked fourth, and Lincoln-Way West, ranked sixth, battled back and forth, and in the end it came down to the final match at the heavyweight division.
That match pitted senior Nick Skentzos of West and the Porters’ Brandon Baker, just a sophomore. The two were scoreless after the first period and Skentzos pulled ahead, 1-0, after the second period. He gained two more points with a takedown midway through the final two minutes and won, 5-2, to give West the victory, 34-30.
“It was great to be in that position to seal the win, but our team won tonight,” Skentzos said.
“We have a bunch of new guys in our lineup this year, and it was great how they responded tonight after leaving some things on our plate at Barrington last weekend,” Warriors coach Brian Glynn said. “Lockport is a good program, and we had great matches up and down the lineup tonight. I’m extremely pleased with where we are at this point of the season.”
The match started at the first weight class of 106 pounds and after four matches, Lockport held an 11-9 lead. But at 132, the Warriors’ Nate Dluzak earned a tough 7-5 decision over the Porters’ Anthony Crapia to give the Warriors a 12-11 lead.
“Tonight was a big match and my mindset was to just wrestle my best and try and dominate,” Dluzak, a senior, said. “Coach told us before that we just need to take care of the match we wrestle and the team score would take care of itself. We warmed up with Lockport in their wrestling room, and that shows you the respect our two programs have for each other.”
The Warriors then received a 4-2 overtime win from Josh Pakula at 138 and Chris Kennedy got a fall to give West a 21-11 lead.
But Lockport came storming back as Baylor Fernandes got a quick fall at 152 and Zach Reese received a major decision at 160 to knot the match at 21-21.
“I knew the situation when I went to the mat,” Reese said. “Coach [Josh Oster] keeps us prepared, he holds nothing back in preparation so that we can get mentally and physically ready to perform. We have to do our job and execute because we knew this would be a tough dual match.”
The teams split the next two matches as the Warriors’ Kyle Quinn got a major decision, and the Porters’ Malek Daghash earned a decision to pull Lockport to within 25-24.
The Porters’ Yousif Salah and the Warriors’ Jimmie Olds each got a fall to keep the Warriors up 31-30 heading to the finale at heavyweight.
“They’re a good team and tonight was a great dual meet,” Oster said. “The fans like to see these come down to the final match like tonight, and I’m proud of how Brandon Baker has progressed since last year. He has progressed and learned a lot being just a sophomore and he took the senior down to the last few seconds. Some will look and see it was the final match that he lost.
“We are getting healthier and I expect West and us to win regionals again and perhaps we will see each other down the road.”