Coaches and wrestlers agreed after this year's version of the Neuqua Valley Mega Dual on Saturday that if it's wanting to be tested as a team or as an individual wrestler, it's the meet to be competing in.
Out of the seven teams that took part Saturday, five are either ranked or given honorable mention in one recent poll. Besides the host Wildcats, Glenbard North and Metea Valley were the other DuPage County teams taking part. Those three schools brought 15 wrestlers either ranked or given honorable mention status in the poll.
Add the ranked wrestlers from the other schools and you have yourself one interesting meet.
"We try to get enough competition like this to get ready for the postseason," said Neuqua Valley coach Mick Ruettiger. "It's nice to be able to get that type of intensity."
The highlight Saturday was the battle between No. 4 Lockport and the No. 6 Panthers. Glenbard North edged Lockport 32-26. Glenbard North trailed Lockport 26-25 going into the 285-pound match. But Chris Edwards came through with a 7-2 victory.
Teammate Austin Gomez, ranked No. 3 as a freshman at 106, finished things up for Glenbard North with a major decision to dry the ink on the final score.
"All of our guys stepped up and got bonus points when we needed bonus points," said Jered Cortez, the No. 1 wrestler at 132, who finished the day 3-0.
The Panthers, a perennial DuPage Valley Conference and state power, are in full postseason preparation mode with just one DuPage Valley Conference regular-season dual meet left on Friday night at home against Wheaton North.
"Our bodies are beat up right now. We are in our hardest training cycle right now," Cortez said. "It's coach (Mark) Hahn's system and it works. We're progressing every day."
The Panthers started the day with a 54-21 win over the hosts and closed the meet out by beating Plainfield Central 39-15. Hahn was generally pleased with the Panthers' performance but is stressing to his team with the approaching postseason the need to score as many points possible in bouts.
"It's the time of the year to see where we are at. I told them about coming together as a team and thinking about bonus points to help the team," he said. "We came out today and wrestled pretty tough."
After losing to Glenbard North, Neuqua Valley was edged by Bradley-Bourbonnais 33-27 before beating Bolingbrook 39-21. Connor Swier, ranked No. 4 at 182, went 3-0 for the Wildcats. The senior earned two technical falls.
"I thought I wrestled well. I wrestled hard," he said.
Swier doesn't pay attention to the current honor of being ranked one of the area's best at 182.
"The only rank I'm concerned about is the one at the end of the year," he said.
Senior Brent Lindenman, No. 9 at 195, was 2-1.
"Brent is having a great year. He was at 170 the last two years. He's very good on his feet and his mat work is improving," Ruettiger said.
Metea Valley sandwiched a 40-27 win over Bolingbrook between an opening defeat to Barrington (45-18) and a 49-21 defeat to Lockport. Juniors Kenan Carter (152) and Sam Elston (160), both honorable mentions in a poll, each went 3-0. Mustangs coach Claudio Torres said he's looking for consistency from his team.
"We made good plays today. But they need to learn to make good plays for the entire six minutes," he said.
The postseason starts for Metea and Neuqua with the Upstate Eight Conference meet Friday and Saturday at Elgin.