NEW LENOX – No one can say that the wrestling teams from Lincoln-Way West and Plainfield South were taking it easy as they approached the upcoming holiday break.
Both teams that are included in the IWCOA Class 3A rankings had big events scheduled for Saturday, with the Warriors hosting Sandburg and the Cougars beginning a two-day visit to Harlem’s Dvorak Invite. But before those events, they also squared off Friday to compete against each other in a nonconference dual meet.
The teams each won seven matches, and while No. 18 South pulled out two close decisions and got some key bonus points in the late going, No. 11 West captured wins in three of the final four matches to rally for a 36-31 home victory.
“I knew right from the first match that it was going to be close,” Warriors coach Brian Glynn said. “After losing one I thought we’d win, you know that you’re in for a battle. I thought we wrestled tough in the next couple of matches and picked up some bonus points, but we also gave up a couple of pins, and you just can’t do that. It was a good dual, and luckily, we snuck it out. They’re a good team, and we’ll see them again in the sectional. I was happy for Kenner Guzman, who hasn’t seen much varsity time, but he really stepped up.”
South (7-5) led, 26-20, after Lexi Janiak took an early 2-0 lead and then maintained that edge for a 2-0 win over Josh McLean at 106 pounds. But West (13-3) tied it up when Johnny Buell collected a forfeit win at 113, which was the only uncontested match of the night.
After Enzo Silva got a last-second two-point nearfall to clinch a win by technical fall at 120 to give the Cougars a 31-26 lead, Javen Estrada recorded a fall in the opening minute to put West up, 32-31, which set up a winner-take-all match to decide the dual meet.
Kenner Guzman, competing in only his third varsity match of the season, jumped out to an early lead and kept building on it to pick up a 10-2 victory over Andy Chaplin at 132.
“Sure I liked the challenge and it was a big step for me,” Guzman said. “This win was a lot of fun, and our team is awesome and being on it is a lot of fun. We’re all friends, and we’re all close. We’re also all very encouraging to each other and help each other out.”
In the opener, Zach Kolb got an escape in the final period to edge Garrett Geigner, 3-2, at 138, and Payton Geigner followed with an 8-3 win over Noah Bickett. South’s James Pierandozzi used a late takedown to win 10-2 over Chris Kennedy at 152 and Jake Kendall added a 12-4 victory over Brock Pfeifer to put the Cougars ahead, 11-3.
The Warriors responded as Josh Pakula got a win by technical fall at 170 and Jacob Cronk recorded a fall in 20 seconds to give the hosts a 14-11 lead. After South’s Will Johnston got a pin in 1:58 at 195, Griffin Ketelaar answered with a fall in 1:16. But South’s Andrew Bejarano only needed 28 seconds to record a fall at 285 to make it 23-20.
“I think the biggest thing about this was just people stepping up and getting extra bonus points where we needed them, or people fighting off and not getting pinned or getting wins that they shouldn’t have gotten,” Cronk said. “I think with us doing good every year, it kind of builds on the confidence of the people who are starting for the first time. We just need people being tough and wrestling the whole match.”
While the Cougars fell a bit short, coach Jason Acevedo was pleased with his team’s effort and hopes that he’ll see more of the same in upcoming weeks.
“It was real exciting since they’re a top, quality program,” Acevedo said. “It was a 7-7 split, and we gave away a forfeit, but I don’t want to take anything away from them. Our kids stepped up and I want to see this top local competition to get us ready for regionals and the rest of the state series. The kids got up for it, and we want to see the high level, so we schedule our toughest time in the middle of the year to see where are and what we need to work on. I’m really proud of our guys and how they battled.”