Lakes can chalk this one up to the "it just wasn't meant to be" category as the Eagles met Harvard in the Class 2A Antioch dual team wrestling sectional Tuesday night.
Starting the meet at 132 pounds, the Hornets jumped out to a commanding 33-9 lead after eight matches on the way to a 57-12 victory over Lakes. With the outcome decided, the Eagles chose to forfeit the last four bouts, which certainly wasn't their game plan headed into the meet.
Contact information ( * required )
Harvard (22-5) advanced to the Elite Eight quarterfinals at 11 a.m. Saturday against Oak Forest at U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
After winning its first regional in school history, Lakes closed out the 2013-14 season with an 18-7 record.
In the other sectional dual meet at Antioch, 10-time state champion Montini (14-3) was able to cruise past Chicago Westinghouse 60-12 to set up a potential IHSA record seventh straight state crown this weekend. The Broncos face Washington in the quarterfinals at 9 a.m.
The odds were stacked against the Eagles from the outset Tuesday as their lone individual state qualifier, Kavan Mulloy (152), was out of the lineup due to a dislocated elbow he suffered after winning his first match downstate.
To make matters worse, Lakes still did not have the services of key wrestlers Levi Smith (126) and Jared Smith (170) for the big meet although coach Mark Stave had anticipated that they would be ready to come back from their injuries.
"I'm trying to maintain a team here and keep them together for the summer," said Stave, who just finished his second season. "Harvard is a tough team. I think we could beat them if we had our full lineup together. They did what they had to do and I wish them nothing but the best, obviously."
The Hornets have moved up from Class 1A to Class 2A for the first time and they have experienced plenty of success in the team tournament already. Harvard will be making its 13th appearance in the Elite Eight tourney and it has six top-four trophies to show for it.
"Our 138-pounder (Logan Streit) lost to them in the sectional and he pinned him today, so that was a big swing right there," said veteran Harvard coach Tim Haack, who is in his final season. "I think getting those bonus points early were big for us and the credit goes to our assistant coaches."
With Lakes trailing 15-0, 152-pounder Max Hill got the Eagles on the scoreboard with a 6-3 decision over Isaiah Rudd.
Then 160-pounder Dakota Larson suffered a concussion to put Lakes in a 21-3 deficit. At 170 pounds, Zach Fuller responded with a pin in 3:37, but the Hornets continued to pull away.
With the Eagles down 33-9, Lakes 220-pounder Austin Summers posted a 10-3 decision to cut the gap to 33-12. But that was as close as the Eagles got as Harvard 285-pounder Adam Freimund (fifth in Class 2A) won by forfeit.
Then the Eagles chose to forfeit the remaining matches at 106, 113, 120, and 126 to account for the final score. Stave was disappointed about how it all had to end, but there were many bright spots to point to looking ahead to next season.
"Everyone is coming back next season except for Mulloy, and I think we will be better next season to be honest with you," said Stave. "We are going to regroup, let them have a nice off-season, and get ready for next year."
Not only will Montini be going for a record seventh straight title, it will also be gunning for an state record 11 championships.
"We're excited, we're ready, and we're healthy," said Montini coach Israel Martinez, whose team had five individual champions and four second-place finishers last weekend in Champaign. "We just have to put three good dual meets together to set some records."