While Dundee-Crown wrestler Ray Griggel continues to deal with an injury he sustained blocking a kick return during football season, it's not stopping him in his quest for state.
The Chargers' lone senior says it's taken him out of rhythm this season, a year in which he's only wrestled in 6 matches.
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But nights like Thursday, where emotions were high in his final match at Dundee-Crown (11-7, 2-4) on senior night against District 300-rival Jacobs, it can only be of help in reaching that state goal.
Griggel was able to defeat Mark Mamola 5-2 in the 220-pound weight class to get his fifth win while he watched his underclass teammates help him leave D-C in style by staving off the Golden Eagles 36-24 in the final Fox Valley Conference meet of the season for both teams.
In front of a raucous crowd, the 106 matchup between Diamond Flynn and Michael Pepin concluded matters as Flynn pinned Pepin at 1:07 after Griggel's victory gave D-C a 24-21 key edge with 2 matches remaining.
"I had to go up there, get my win. I've been out for a while and I really need to start working hard in the wrestling room," Griggel said. "When I shoot, I have a pretty powerful shot. Just need to get my setups and everything in a row again."
The shot he went with late in period two was indeed full of power, as he and Mamola stayed upright throughout until Griggel made his move. Griggel sealed it in the third after he broke Mamola's single and Tim Schanmier (160), Martell Thompson (138) and Jeremy Marshall (285) garnered pins in their wins.
"Going out there and beating those Jacobs kids, it's the greatest feeling in the world," said Schanmier, who has been getting into a groove of sorts, working on his footing. "(The) coaches all week were telling us to wrestle tough, and just keep on wrestling. Just go to one move and I took it all in, put it in my match and came out with a pin."
Schanmier pinned Marvin Pepin at 3:10, and in Flynn's match, Flynn went into an all-out attack mode, putting his neck and shoulders into Michael Pepin's side from the get-go after not having to wrestle two-time sectional qualifier Austin Ryan, who was having his a bout with the flu.
"For him its just a matter of confidence, he's just a sophomore," Chargers' head coach Robert Skillman said. "He was thinking he was going to have to wrestle one of the best kids in state tonight and he was pretty jacked he didn't have to wrestle Ryan tonight and didn't need any motivation. He was fine. He was going to go after him and I wasn't worried about that one at all."
The flu has been a recurring theme for the Golden Eagles, who also dealt with other injuries. Jacobs was 9-3 before the flu bug and has gone 1-7 in team duals since.
"Fighting sickness and skin diseases is half the battle in wrestling," said first-year Jacobs coach Gary Conrad. "Dundee-Crown came out, you've got to give it to them, they came out and wrestled tough and got the win. They did a nice job and now it's time to think about the state series."
Jake Orth (132), Michael Ricks (145) and Carson Shoemaker (195) did their best to help Jacobs (10-10, 4-5) get the team victory in their matches. Shoemaker and Cody Ferencz (126) came away with pins while senior Kenny Thompson (17-8) battled cramps during his win at 120.
"If I would have stopped, I would have lost the match," said Thompson after getting an 8-7 win over D-C's Jequan Flynn. "I wasn't feeling the greatest, my legs were burning. I just kept going, stayed on top, not let him escape, that won me the match."