NEW LENOX – Lincoln-Way Central’s Mega Duals have been a great way for local wrestlers to come back from the holiday break during the years and it was no different when the latest chapter took place Saturday.
Minooka, Plainfield South, Lincoln-Way East and Bolingbrook joined the host Knights and seven others as the teams moved on from the first month of their schedule with the focus shifting to the next few weeks leading up to the IHSA postseason series.
It was a good day overall for the two area teams who took part in the event and are ranked among the top-25 Class 3A teams in Illinois in the latest rankings that appear on the Illinois Coaches and Officials Association website: Minooka and Plainfield South.
The Indians, who are ranked 14th in Class 3A, capped a 3-0 day by beating St. Rita, 43-20, Bradley-Bourbonnais, 72-12, and Lincoln-Way East, 59-12.
And the Cougars, who are ranked 20th in Class 3A, also turned in a 3-0 performance after winning, 40-21, over Warren, 49-20 over Hinsdale Central, and 59-19 over St. Patrick.
Veteran Indians coach Bernie Ruettiger knows the importance of this particular mega duals since he’s been bringing his teams to this event since he was coaching at Bradley before he took over the program at Minooka.
“I’ve been in these mega duals for a long time,” Ruettiger said. “We’ve got a little bit of depth, which helps us a lot. We’ve gone through some injuries and sickness and all of that stuff, and we’re wrestling tough when you’ve got to do it – in the second half of the year. We have some kids who can do some individual things this year, I do believe, so we’ll see what happens. I’m happy with how we’re doing and hopefully, things will keep getting better for us.”
The Indians, who were coming off of a first-place finish in last week’s Palatine Berman Invite, got 3-0 efforts Saturday from Nathan Berta, Michael Carey, Jack McClimon, Jake Mensik, Caden Arlis, Nick Daniel, Noah Boles, Connor Colbert and Drew Gutknecht.
Plainfield South has also faced a tough schedule thus far, even though it hasn’t ever been at full strength. That gives coach Jason Acevedo plenty of confidence that his Cougars will be ready when they need to be once the postseason kicks off.
The Cougars followed up trips to Harlem’s Dvorak Invite and DeKalb’s Flavin dual tournament by going 3-0 to improve to 15-9. Acevedo likes what he’s seen from Andrew Bejarano, Jake Kendall, James Pierandozzi and Enzo Silva, who are state-ranked. Others who went 3-0 included Noah Bickett, Zach Kolb and David Plata.
“I’m happy since we’re battling, but the most frustrating thing is that we haven’t had our full lineup yet,” Acevedo said. “We’ve been without one to three people each time out, but I’ll give the kids credit since they’ve stepped up. When you’re wrestling against good schools, it’s hard to have pieces missing. We’ve got guys like Andrew, Enzo, Jake and Jimmy, who are starting to put it together. We just need to clean up on our mistakes.”
The host Knights went 2-1 in their meet after opening with a 47-19 win over Buffalo Grove, falling, 51-16, to Warren and then beating Fremd, 57-18, in their finale. Among Central’s leaders Saturday included Justin Brauer, Mason Sargent and Chris Pasowisty.
After leading Lincoln-Way East’s program for many years, coach Tyrone Byrd is excited to try to get the Knights back among the top teams in the area. However, he realizes that doing that will require a lot of hard work on everyone’s part.
“Up and down the lineup, I’ve been happy with the kids’ progress,” Byrd said. “As coaches, we want more and also want them to improve and are looking at the things that they need to fix, but that doesn’t take away from that things that they are doing.”