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Prep wrestling: Lockport uses late rally to beat Lemont in clash of state powers

LOCKPORT – When two wrestling teams who are ranked among the top 10 in the state in their respective classes meet up, you usually can expect that there should be a lot of close matches and that the outcome likely won’t be determined until the late stages.

And that’s just what happened Friday when Lockport hosted Lemont in its first dual meet in the school’s Central Campus auditorium.

The Indians won the first four matches to claim a 15-point lead, but the Porters used two streaks where they also won four in a row to help them rally for a 38-24 nonconference victory that was closer than the score suggests.

“When we started where we did, I knew that was a pretty good spot for them, since that’s where they’re good,” Porters coach Josh Oster said. “We wrestle a lot of people and use a lot of different lineups. With Matt Ramos and Keegan Roberson getting injured a little bit, you throw someone else in there, and having Kaleb [Thompson] in the lineup was good.

“I’m glad that this came together since we know a lot of the Lemont kids from the Bears or from freestyle. I texted [Lemont coach] John [St. Clair] earlier in the year and asked him if they wanted to find a date for this meet, and this one was available, but both of our gyms were being used. So [Lockport athletic director] Mike Dwyer asked if me if we could do it on the stage, and we had a pretty good crowd, and the view from up top was pretty good. It was a fun meet.”

Lemont, which is ranked sixth in Class 2A in the rankings on the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association website, won the first four matches. But Lockport, which is fifth in Class 3A, responded with four consecutive victories to take its first lead at 19-15.

After the Indians won the next two matches to move in front again at 24-19, the Porters put together another streak of four straight victories to cap its home dual meet schedule.

Lockport concluded dual meet action Saturday in the Neuqua Valley mega duals and wraps up its regular season at next weekend’s Stagg Invite.

Lemont, which has lost once to a Class 2A team, competed at the Batavia Invite on Saturday and will take part in the South Suburban Conference meet next weekend.

“It was a good meet and we battled pretty hard against a good 3A team,” St. Clair said. “We only lost one match that I thought we were going win, but I was disappointed with us not going for bonus points in a dual like this where we were coming in undermanned. We wrestle a predominant [Class] 3A schedule with the tournaments that we go to for a reason, which is to get us ready for the end.”

Lockport started its first comeback at 160 pounds when Baylor Fernandes recorded a quick fall to make it 15-6, and then Kyle Boone captured a 12-3 victory over Connor Stomp. Malik Daghash picked up a 3-0 triumph over Mike Mussallem at 182, and Andrew Blackburn-Forst recorded a first-period fall to give the hosts a 19-15 lead.

“We had a slow start,” Fernandes said. “But there were a lot of good, close matches and they could have gone either way. Lemont has a good lineup for a Class 2A team, and they’re looking pretty solid this year. We’re still working and moving up in the rankings, and are looking to peak at the end of the year. I like the progression that we’ve had and how we’re just slowly getting better for the end of the year and looking for that right time to peak.”

Lemont countered with a second-period fall by Apollo Gothard and added a 3-2 win by Muhamad Jarad over Brendon Shin at 285 to go up, 24-19.

But the Porters responded as Tyler Bentley edged Evan Schiffman, 4-3, at 106, Kaleb Thompson won, 15-3, over Jake Zator, and Jacob Lukaszczyk got a first-period fall to make it 32-24 before defending state champion Anthony Molton received a forfeit. Matt Ramos, who was injured in the Cheesehead Invite, served as an announcer along with Ronald Tucker Jr.

In the opener at 132, Drew Nash edged Mikey Kaminski, 7-6, and Kyle Schickel followed with a 10-5 win over Jake D’Angelo. After Grant LaDuke prevailed, 3-1, over Anthony Crapia at 145, Kyle Zator recorded a first-period fall to get the Indians off to a great start.

“We’ve got a great group in the room, and that just makes us that much better,” Nash said. “We can only get better since we’re a young team with only one senior. Next year, we’re going to come back even better. Hopefully, we can maybe get some wins in the state finals.”

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