Kaneland knocks off old rival
The fabled Western Sun Conference held a mini-reunion Saturday morning in Maple Park when the Geneva and Kaneland wrestling teams squared off during the Knights' annual quadrangular.
"When I was a freshman, (the Vikings) were in our conference," said Kaneland returning Class 2A state qualifier Danny Goress. "It's a good confidence boost for us to beat a 3A school."
Despite forfeiting three weight classes, Kaneland had a series of dramatic pins to overcome Geneva 42-38 to highlight its day.
Adam Mish (106 pounds), Stephen Gust (113), Dane Goodenough (126), Esai Ponce (132), Goress (138) and Sonny Horn (145) all had falls against Geneva to offset the 18 forfeited points the Vikings received.
"A great win," Goodenough said of the Knights upping their longtime conference rival in several different league configurations. "I started off losing (my match against Geneva). (My opponent) made a mistake, and I was able to capitalize on it."
Brad Martens (120) and Alex Kunkel (152) had pins for the Vikings, who also received a technical fall from Mike Villanueva at 145 pounds.
Kaneland (6-7) began its day by plowing through first-time participant Belvidere North, 51-21, and the Knights were looking to go perfect on the day when matching up with fellow top-20 ranked Class 2A power Rock Island.
The Knights could not have asked for a better start as senior heavyweight Zach Theis had a fall to propel the squad to an early 12-3 lead.
The Rocks (10-2) would answer with a 12-0 run between 120 and 132 pounds to take a 15-12 lead, but the Knights' two senior leaders — Ponce and Goress — earned hard-fought wins over equally state-ranked opponents to go up 18-15.
"Every day I'm looking to get better," Goress said. "(As a team) we're looking to February (the state series)."
Unfortunately for the Knights, it would be the last points they would score against their No. 12-ranked foes from the Quad Cities.
Rock Island had back-to-back pins at 152 and 160 pounds for a quick 12-point burst, and the Knights' ensuing three forfeits turned a once-promising 9-point lead into a 45-18 defeat.
"Those were the two matches we were worried about," Rock Island coach Joel Stockwell said of the Rocks' pivotal falls at 152 and 160. "They both went our way."
Kaneland was collectively pleased with its showing, especially considering its current short-handed status.
"To win two duals was kind of a rarity with three forfeits," said Ponce, also a returning state qualifier.
"The kids came out today to wrestle," Kaneland coach Monty Jahns said. "We corrected some things (after a recent dual-meet loss) against Yorkville. (The seniors are) about where they need to be (at this stage of the season). They have to keep improving."
Geneva (11-6) dropped a 45-18 verdict against Rock Island.
"That was a big swing," Geneva coach Tom Chernich said of Goodenough prevailing at 126 pounds during the loss to Kaneland. "And at 106 pounds I thought that was going to be a close match, and we ended up getting pinned."
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