Antioch takes 4th; Grant drops quarterfinal
BLOOMINGTON — The odds did not favor the Antioch wrestling team making a second consecutive Final Four appearance at the Class 2A dual-team wrestling state tournament on Saturday.
But Kyle Nichols, Nathan Dlugopolski and Briley Schultz answered the call against Chicago Public League member Bowen at U.S. Cellular Coliseum during the morning quarterfinals.
The triumvirate erased a 27-19 lead by triumphing in all three weight classes — between 285 pounds and 113 pounds — to get the Sequoits into the semifinals.
"Our six-pounder (Schultz) had to beat their 13-pounder," Antioch coach Wilbur Borrero said.
But the Sequoits' reward for their razor-thin 29-27 victory was a date with Geneseo.
Chris Ruth, Mike Gussarson and Johnny Denikas opened the semifinal match in grand style as three straight wins — highlighted by a Gussarson fall at 132 pounds — translated into 13 quick points.
Unfortunately for Antioch, though, it would be the last win of the afternoon against Geneseo.
The Maple Leafs were unmerciful over the next 11 matches, amassing 58 straight points to win going away 58-13.
"Everything was going according to plan," Borrero said. "We knew we needed to win seven matches (to win) the dual. I knew we were in trouble after (Joey Medina lost at 152 pounds)."
For the second straight year Antioch had its season end in the major-consolation bracket.
Once again, too, the Sequoits would have to settle for fourth place; Sycamore had too much firepower in a 45-19 victory.
Schultz was one of the few bright spots for Antioch (17-16) as the junior moved back to his customary 106-pound slot to register a first-period fall.
"I got my arms across his back and threw him to his back," Schultz said. "I felt like we had a better chance this year to get to the finals."
Gussarson won all three matches for Antioch.
"I was hoping (our team finish) would have been better," Gussarson said. "We're all pretty humble. We didn't go too crazy (after beating Bowen)."
"I think that we did the best that we could (against Sycamore)," Borrero said. "We're excited for what we can do next year."
Johnny Denikas and Kyle Nichols were the other Antioch wrestlers to win against Sycamore in the third-place match.
Grant was also seeking a Final Four berth in the Class 3A morning session.
But the Bulldogs ran into a hungry crew from Lincoln-Way Central in dropping a 31-24 verdict in the quarterfinals.
The final score was misleading as Lincoln-Way Central forfeited the final two matches once they were mathematically assured of victory.
"We felt the pressure," Grant coach Ryan Geist said. "We had some kids step up. We had a great season. It was a great experience (to make the Elite Eight)."
Connor Haran had the outstanding performance for Grant (25-2) with a second-period fall at 220 pounds.
"It was good to have my wrestling career close with a win," said Haran.
Troy Parent and Noah Drabek had simple decisions at 120 and 126 pounds for the Bulldogs' only other wins on the mat.
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