Even 30 minutes after Neil Crawford had earned a hard-fought pin of Dundee-Crown's Jim Justrowski at 126 pounds, the Crystal Lake South senior was still dripping sweat from the exhaustive match.
Crawford's exhilarating pin with 47 seconds left in the match put the finishing touches on South's 47-22 Fox Valley Conference win over Dundee-Crown in Crystal Lake Thursday night.
"All the hard practices and conditioning paid off tonight," said Crawford. "It was a very intense match. We both were very aggressive and it was a very hard-fought match. We both wrestled with the same temperament. I was glad to get the win and help the team win."
Crystal Lake South coach Ross Ryan had nothing but praise for his 126-pounder.
"Neil is a very tough kid who always overcomes adversity," said the South coach. "He has the picture-perfect mindset for the wrestler. He is so intense and he just battles until he wins. His win was huge and came at the right time."
With the match starting at 145 pounds, D-C (8-4, 1-2) led 22-18 after 8 matches with Jarod Raap (182) and Jeremy Marshall (285) recording pins and Claude Bird, Tim Schanmier and DaShan Lloyd registering wins by decision for the Chargers.
Scoring the final 29 points, the Gators won the final 6 matches with Crawford's pin and decisions by Joey Fetherling (113), Nick Gil (132) and Eric Barone (138).
Garrett Dziedzic (106) and Casey Callahan (120) won by forfeit for the victorious Gators (5-7, 1-2).
"We are very strong in the lower weights and really finished strong," said Ryan. "Dundee-Crown is a perennial power in the Fox Valley so this was a nice win."
Dundee-Crown coach Bob Skillman was happy with his team's effort.
"Jarod Raap is a sophomore and he belongs on the varsity," said the second-year D-C coach. "Jarod wrestled very well tonight. We had some kids really wrestle well and step up. We are even younger and more inexperienced than last year. I didn't think that was possible. South is a very good team and they are especially tough in the lower weights. That is where they won the match. We have some injuries to get through, but we are getting better."