JOLIET – There wasn’t much that separated the wrestling teams from Plainfield South and Plainfield East in Thursday’s Southwest Prairie Conference dual meet.
In a District 202 showdown in the auditorium at the southside campus, the Bengals had a 7-6 edge in wins in contested matches, but the Cougars received a forfeit and won the battle of bonus points by a
16-11 margin to capture a 37-32 victory.
Both sides wrestled in challenging tournaments over the break with South competing in both Harlem’s Dvorak and Granite City’s Schmitt invites, while East participated in DeKalb’s Flavin dual-meet tournament.
And being battle tested in those events paid dividends.
“Their program is very tough and they have some high-level kids,” Cougars coach Jason Acevedo said of East. “We knew they were dangerous since they took Minooka to the last match. Whenever you have a Plainfield rivalry, there’s always a little more oomph to it. Our kids wrestled tough, and we had kids who went after back points, which was important. We have a lot of work to do to make this last push before regionals. We know that we have to coach them up and know what to fix to get them ready, and they know what they have to work on.”
While his team yielded three pins and lost two other matches by technical fall, Bengals coach Dave Early was encouraged by his team’s performance, which featured a pair of one-point wins and a pair of third-period falls in matches where they held only a one-point lead going into the final period.
“They’re tough top to bottom,” Early said of the Cougars. “We’ve got an injury that we’re still waiting on that could have helped us, and we had a guy wrestling up a weight today. I thought our guys battled well, and the guys that we bumped up like Barry Stevenson and D’Anthony Hopkins got a major and a pin. Guys who’ve been in the program and our seniors are wrestling the best that they’ve wrestled and they’ve really bought in.”
After South’s Andrew Cervantes opened the meet with a win by technical fall at 126, East won the next three matches to grab a quick 15-5 advantage.
Tyler Krause improved to 22-0 after opening up a tight match with Zach Kolb at 132 pounds to record a fall in 4:48.
Stevenson used a late nearfall to claim a 13-5 win over Noah Bickett and then Hopkins won his match at 145 by technical fall.
“We have a better lineup than last year, top to bottom,” Krause said. “But we still have to wrestle better and people have to fight off their backs since it came down to bonus points. We’re really close. On days that we don’t have practice, we’ll hit each other up to see if we want to hang out or get an extra workout in if we can. I like that we’re close.”
The Cougars used a forfeit win by Rolando Ibarra at 152 to kick off a four-match win streak that put them in front for good at 28-15 with only six matches remaining.
Jake Kendall only needed 19 seconds to get a fall at 160, Dan Caldwell won the next match by technical fall and Will Johnston recorded a pin in 1:51 to give the hosts a 13-point lead.
But the Bengals certainly weren’t done as they responded by picking up three consecutive victories to close to within 28-27 with just three matches left.
Dylan Kurzrock edged Jesus Hernandez 3-2 at 195 and then Mark-Thomas Faison broke open a tight match with Andrew Stachniak to record a fall in 5:01. Artese Gregory completed the run of victories when he rode out Andrew Bejarano in the final period to claim a 1-0 triumph at heavyweight.
However, South answered with victories in the next two matches to wrap things up. Gabe Hinkle recorded a fall in 1:21 at 106 before Enzo Silva claimed his 100th career win with a 6-2 triumph over Alex Villar in one of the night’s most-anticipated matches. In the finale at 120, East’s Anthony Zamora recorded a win by technical fall.
“If you want to be the best, you have to train hard and you have to do what you’ve got to do to win,” Silva said. “There’s a lot of good kids on our team, we just have to keep grinding and working in the room in order to be better than we were the day before. We have tons of good kids on this team and we’ve got some funny guys, but they’re also hard workers. They know when they have to work hard and what it takes to get it done.”