St. Charles East maintains control of UEC River
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It was an ambivalent performance by the St. Charles East wrestling team, according to coach Jason Potter.
"We're not leaving in the best of moods today," Potter said.
On the bright side for the Saints, the team is on the brink of repeating as Upstate Eight Conference River Division champions.
Due to the extended Batavia football run, the teams' conference match was part of the Bulldogs' annual quadrangular Saturday morning in Batavia.
Deadlocked at 21-21 after the eighth match, St. Charles East swept the final six matches to earn a 46-21 victory.
But the Saints then fell to 16-3 on the season overall after dropping 36-31 and 34-33 matches, respectively, to Schaumburg and West Aurora.
"We handled (the Batavia) dual in the middle (weights), where we know we are strong," Potter said. "We didn't wrestle very well as a team, though, even against Batavia."
Jake Mende and Keone Derain had back-to-back falls to open the Saints' triumph over Batavia at 145 and 152 pounds.
Ryan Valesh and Isaiah Vela then closed out the Saints' match-closing 25-point unanswered run with pins at 132 and 138 pounds.
"I broke the school record (for fastest pin)," Vela said after needing only seven seconds to end his match. "It's definitely great to get a conference win today."
"We knew they were the better team on paper," Batavia coach Scott Bayer said of the conference match. "We missed a ton of opportunities. I give Coach Potter a lot of credit. They wrestle the right way."
Batavia is 9-15, 3-2 in the River, after dropping double-digit-point matches to West Aurora and Schaumburg.
But Connor McKeehan had a memorable day for the Bulldogs; the senior had pins in all three matches at 220 pounds.
"I do my best to deliver," McKeehan said. "Over the years my coaches have expected me to do that. Me getting 6 (points) is what they expect of me. It's my job."
West Aurora is 12-9 on the season after its wins over Batavia and St. Charles East.
Alex Gonzalez was the standout performer for the Blackhawks.
The sophomore completed a flawless day by earning a fall to give West Aurora an insurmountable 7-point lead over St. Charles East with one match remaining.
The Saints had stormed back from a 28-3 deficit with 24 consecutive points as Vela capped the run with a second-period pin.
Gonzalez, the younger brother of former state champion and current Illinois starter Mario, improved to 25-4 on the season at 145 pounds.
"I kept head pressure on top," Gonzalez said of fall a minute-plus into the second period.
Brothers Isaac and Carlos Jacquez each eclipsed 30 wins on the season for West Aurora with their perfect days at 106 and 113 pounds.
"I don't know what team we're going to be," West Aurora coach Mike DiNovo said. "We are coming off two very good showings at Hinsdale Central and Granite City (over the holidays)."
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