After the opening weekend of the wrestling season, Prospect coach Tom Whalen said he would take a wait-and-see approach to his team's chances in the upcoming season, preferring instead to answer the question after his team would meet Wheeling.
Well, on Friday night, the Knights were victorious over the Wildcats, thus clinching at least a share of the Mid-Suburban's East Division crown. And Prospect added to its big weekend by going 3-0 at Dundee-Crown -- including a thriller against the host Chargers, who happen to be one of the best teams in the Fox Valley Conference this season.
Against D-C, Whalen watched varsity newcomers Alex Preissing and Chris Rivera put the Knights (21-4-0, 4-0-0) in control for good with a late pin and technical fall to give the defending MSL East champs a 30-24 victory in their second dual of the day. Prospect finished the day by rolling past Rockford Boylan 60-17.
"If you're asking now, I am proud of the effort (Friday) night in our (45-18) win over Wheeling to help us reach one of our goals of the season," said Whalen, who saw his team roll past Lane Tech 68-9 in its first match of the day. "But as far as today is concerned, it was good to beat a very solid Dundee-Crown team.
"We have been very good at earning bonus points in most of matches this season, but I thought we kind of settled for points and wins instead of going out and trying to get those extra points, which not only help put distance between you and your opponent but also can be the difference when we're after a regional title in a couple of weeks."
The Knights' see-saw contest with the host Chargers (18-4-0) was a low-scoring affair, as nearly each match ended in a decision and 3 points for the winning team.
There were six lead changes, with the hosts holding the advantage through 160 pounds until Brian Maigler earned a 6-1 victory at 170 pounds to put Prospect ahead 13-12 until D-C super-soph Christian Brunner (29-3) claimed a 7-5 win over Tanner Strobel.
"It was a hard-fought match, which we all thought we could have wrestled better, but we won the close matches and got enough majors and pins to be the difference in the end," said Maigler (23-7), who won 30 times last season on his way to an appearance in the Barrington sectional.
After back-to-back decisions from Jackson Wrede (195) and James Ford at 220 to push the Knights ahead 19-15, D-C big man Jeremy Marshall lowered the boom on his opponent to record a pin at 5:37 to give the Chargers the lead at 21-19 once again.
Diamond Flynn's 4-3 victory stretched the Chargers' advantage to 5 at 24-19 before Preissing and Rivera came through to seal the deal for Prospect.
"Two years ago when a lot of us were sophomores, everyone wanted to wrestle us because we were so bad," Marshall said with a wry smile. "But not anymore. The attitude in the room has taken a complete 180, and a lot of that has to do with our coaching staff and a group of seniors who lead by example , which is something we didn't have here two years ago because we the team was so young.
"It's exciting to be a part of a season like this, and all of us are eager to make a serious run at the FVC tournament in two weeks, then regionals after that."
Marshall (28-5) is one of three D-C competitors closing in on 30 wins this season, and nine have reached 20 wins already.
Four-year veteran Tim Schanmier had a pair of wins Saturday to improve to 27-6.
"It was pretty bad around here for awhile, but this year, I think a lot of us knew we could be better," said Schanmier. "But after beating McHenry in a dual, I knew we were finally a team that could compete at a higher level,"
The Chargers opened with a 39-27 victory over Geneva, then finished up by defeating Lane Tech 46-31 with coach Robert Skillman resting most of his regulars.
"That was a good one with Prospect, which I thought we had a chance to win," said Skillman, "but I feel like we're ready for our FVC finale this coming Thursday with Huntley, which should be a good one. And maybe with a little help, we can perhaps tie for first in the division with Crystal Lake South if McHenry can beat them."
Geneva (22-4-0) coach Tom Chernich was happy with the effort of his club after the Vikings came back from an opening-round defeat against D-C to roll over Boylan 51-23 then Marian Central 53-17 (which is coached by former Jacobs coach Chris Taylor).
"We were in a tight one with Dundee-Crown until we went through a rough stretch and couldn't climb out of it," said Chernich, "but I thought we still wrestled hard against them, and for the most part had a very good day all the way around to help us get ready for the UEC tournament."
Geneva has one final postseason tune-up after conference, with a meet featuring Addison Trail and host Burlington Central.
After Michael Huck (145) gave the Vikings a 12-9 lead with a 4-0 win over Elijah Velez of Dundee-Crown, the club went on a scoring drought, falling behind 27-12 until Nate Montgomery (195) and Jack Anderson (220) put (10) points on the board for the Vikings.
But consecutive pins from Jeremy Marshall and Diamond Flynn put D-C in command.
"I came in figuring we could come away with a win over D-C, but we gave away a couple of matches that I didn't think we would," said Chernich. "But we also weren't at 100 percent, either, which we hope to be for conference."
"Michael Huck had a very good day, however, going 2-1, and giving the Marian kid (Nick Remke), who was a 2A state medalist last year, all he could handle, so good for him. And Austin (Chacon), whom we bumped up to 182 twice, handled it very well."
An undermanned Boylan had a long day as it gave away five weights for 30 points throughout the competition. Thought his team struggled, Alex Butler, ranked No. 1 at 132 in Class 2A, looked ready to go for the postseason after dominating his opponents in all three bouts.
Dundee-Crown will end its regular season at the Wauconda duels next weekend, while Prospect looks to put the finishing touches on its division crown with a dual against Elk Grove.