Kaneland is in the proverbial hole prior to its wrestling team taking the mats in its dual-meet schedule.
Forced to forfeit consecutive weight classes between 145 and 160 pounds, the Knights -- assuming their foes have a healthy body at the three classes -- have an 18-point deficit to overcome.
"You just can't give up 3 weights and expect to win very many (dual) meets," Kaneland coach Monty Jahns said.
But Saturday morning and early afternoon at their annual quadrangular with Larkin, Geneva and Rock Island in Maple Park, the Knights (4-8) were able to compensate with bonus points of their own to double their win total on the season with victories over short-handed Larkin and former conference rival Geneva.
Rock Island (12-1) was a different matter, though, as the Class 2A state power earned the maximum 6 points in seven of the first eight bouts en route to a 42-27 triumph in the final match of the day.
Upstate Eight Conference River members Larkin and Geneva did not wrestle each other.
"When you're on a team that has to forfeit 18 points, you know you have to score as many bonus points as you can (to compensate)," said Kaneland three-year stalwart Esai Ponce, who improved to 12-1 on the season with a clean slate at 126 pounds. "That has to be your mindset."
Ben Kovalick was the true star on the day for Kaneland as he readjusts to the winter sports season after the Knights' extended football run.
"I had about two days of practice before the first meet," the senior 220-pounder said.
Kovalick had a simple task in the final match of the day against Geneva: a major decision, technical fall or pin would deliver the hard-fought match to the Knights.
"I was thinking pin the whole way," Kovalick said.
With Geneva, which dropped a one-sided verdict to Rock Island in the first round, holding a tenuous 36-33 lead, Kovalick needed less than a period to secure a fall and reverse the Knights' 3-point deficit in their 39-36 victory over the Vikings.
"(I had to) stick to the stuff I have been working on all year," said Kovalick, who also had a fall against Rock Island to match Ponce for team-best individual record at 12-1.
Steven Gust, Connor Williams, Ponce, Sonny Horn and Dan Goress all had falls for Kaneland against its former Western Sun rivals Geneva to take a seemingly commanding 30-9 lead.
But Geneva, which fell to 5-8 on the season with its twin losses, stormed back, not only from the 18 forfeited points but also a pin from Mark Henriksen at 145 pounds.
The Vikings' 24-point unanswered run made it 33-30 in favor of Geneva; the spread was still in favor of the Vikings when Jake Boser had a 7-point run, including a takedown in overtime, at 195 pounds.
"A few more inches, and it could have been (a fall)," Geneva coach Tom Chernich said of Boser rebounding from a 7-2 deficit with a near-fall in the third. "We gave up a lot of pins (against Kaneland). That was pretty much the big difference in the match."
Heavyweight Jake Mills joined Henriksen as the only undefeated athletes for Geneva.
Larkin was forced to forfeit half of the 7 weight classes in dropping lopsided meets to Kaneland and Rock Island.
The one bright spot for the Royals was senior Hugo Gonzalez, who had pins in both of his matches at 145 pounds.
"I have pins on the year -- all cradles," Gonzalez said.