If the Huntley vs. Jacobs dual wrestling meet Friday night were an amusement-park ride you can bet everyone on board would have gone back on -- over and over again.
On a night when a big Senior Night crowd saw just about everything, it was the visiting Red Raiders (14-1) who would prevail in this Fox Valley Conference match by a final score of 36-25 and deal the host Golden Eagles a second consecutive heartbreaking defeat.
"Well it wasn't very pretty, and you saw us not wrestle the Huntley way, but we still were able to come out of here with a victory, and that's what it is all about," said Huntley head coach B.J. Bertelsman, who like his coaching counterpart Gary Conrad, spent as much time at the scorer's table as the P.A. announcer on an evening when several calls or non-calls by the officials only helped fuel a fired up audience.
"There were a few calls that I certainly didn't agree with, such as that pin at 160 against our guy, but (Jacobs) is an opponent in which a lot of our guys know their guys, so there's a lot of emotion involved in a dual like this. The fans really got their money's worth tonight," added Bertelsman, whose club is in the midst of its best dual-meet record in its short history.
Following a brief ceremony honoring the 5 Jacobs seniors, two of the best big men in the FVC showed why they are so highly thought of when Brandon Mabry (195, 22-3) opened the night with an impressive 18-8 major decision victory for the visitors, with Mark Mamola (26-3) following with a pin at 5:59 at 220 pounds to give the home side a lead it would hold for the next 6 bouts.
The strength of both sides has been at the lower weights, and after an 8-7 decision from Zach Lehman at 285 put the Golden Eagles up 9-4, the focus turned to the bottom end of each lineup.
The No. 3 rated 106-pounder in the state, Austin Ryan (26-1), got the hosts off flying with a pin, but it was little more than give-and-take after the Jacobs junior recorded his fall at 1:57, as the two clubs canceled out each other's lower weight success.
Ryan, and Cody Ferencz (126, 20-9) put 10 points on the scoreboard for Jacobs, as did Zach Stenger (20-3), Ricky Vigil (19-7) and Chris Gamboa (21-8) at 113, 120 and 132 to keep the score close, but in favor of Jacobs (19-14) until a forfeit at 138 put the Red Raiders ahead for good.
"Kenny's (OT) loss at 120 was a tough, and one that we didn't agree with, that's for sure," said Conrad, who went straight to the table to meet with officials after Vigil's takedown winner came at 34 seconds of the first extra session.
"I thought the officials had a rough night on both sides, but hey they sure helped give the fans something to get up off their seats to cheer about."
"We gave up three pins last night, and didn't get any for ourselves, and lost a tight one with Crystal Lake South by 34-31, but came back tonight and wrestled hard against a very good opponent in Huntley, but our inexperience, and inability to win some of those close matches likely cost us again."
Trevor Symbal (145) held on to defeat Michael Ricks 6-3 to increase the Red Raiders' lead to 23-19, but it was a fall by Austin Schofield (152) which dealt the harshest blow to the hopes of the home side.
Melvin Pepin did his part in keeping the Golden Eagles close with is pin at 6 minutes, however Mike Walker iced the victory with his strong effort in a 14-5 major at 170 pounds to put the match out of reach at 33-25 with just one bout remaining.
"We lost some matches we shouldn't have, and got pinned in others that we need to stay away from, but we'll hopefully be back to full strength (today) when we go to the Warren duals and we'll see how it goes there," offered Bertelsman, whose club finishes up next week when it hosts FVC leading McHenry, before a trip to the Antioch mega-duals on Saturday.
For the Golden Eagles' first-year head coach, his post-match comments remain as positive as they where during the early part of the season.
"We're getting better, but we're so young with just two seniors in the starting lineup, and a bunch of sophomores, who we will continue to build around, knowing that there's some talented youngsters on the way from our Junior Eagles club program which should begin to arrive next year," Conrad said.
"It was fun out there tonight, and even though we fell a little short, the effort was there, and that's important for us to do each time out."
The Golden Eagles are at Dundee-Crown for their regular season finale next Thursday.