Downers Grove North wrestling coach Chris McGrath doesn't believe his squad is supremely talented. But the Trojans are headed in the right direction with toughness.
A 3-0 day at the South Elgin quad Saturday morning will help guide that toughness even more after they defeated Round Lake, Geneva and the host Storm to improve to 4-2 overall.
"We have to work really, really hard to be good," McGrath said. "We have a very tough schedule so we can learn how to be tough. We're in the process of learning how to be tough.
"I'd give us a B- today but we were a C- yesterday."
Returning state finalist Cullen Commins was his usual self. He earned a pin against South Elgin's Lucas Davis at 1:58 at 138 pounds.
"He's learning how to dominate," McGrath said. "Cullen's a great athlete, an elite level soccer player. He's learning to be dominate."
South Elgin's day was quite the opposite. Losing to Round Lake 42-33, Downers Grove North 45-23 and 44-34 to Geneva wasn't what South Elgin coach Mark Cameron wanted to see coming in. But aside from Friday's loss to Waubonsie Valley, which Cameron proclaims is the team to beat in the Upstate Eight, the Storm (2-5) looked much improved.
"We wrestled better today than (Friday), Cameron said. "It was not what I was hoping for. We threw a lot of our younger guys out there. Our seniors haven't been stepping up and I figure if the seniors aren't stepping up I'd give the younger guys a chance so it will hopefully light a fire under the seniors and it'll get them going again this year."
Storm senior Cory Pych, however, was his usual self. He improved to 11-1 by winning all three of his matches at 126, a day that was highlighted by his pin of Round Lake's Daniel Hernandez.
"Everything that my coaches teach, they were working well," Pych said."It's just the basics: singles, doubles, work for a few turns. Definitely trying to improve my shots. I didn't really shoot much last year so my coaches told me when I take kids down, take kids down and let them up just so I can get shots in during the match so by the end of the year my shots are better. They were working well."
South Elgin heavyweight Nick Kowalski (9-3) wrestled twice, winning both matches after a forfeit but had problems in his final match against Downers Grove North's Renel Phillips.
"He was shorter than I was. I kept getting into bad position for myself, didn't really hit the shots that I wanted to," Kowalski said. "When I got down I tried to get back up as hard as I could work for them, may be get a turn if it was possible. Nothing really came but held it down at the end to get the win."
In his 13-3 victory over Round Lake's Tomas Rangel, Kowalski took his shot really well and was able to get on top of Rangel for the pin.
At 220, South Elgin's Jacob Bergroschtje (8-6) also earned a pin against Downers North's Cody Rudnick at 4:35 of the second period when he ran a half nelson. But Bergroschtje was more reflective of the team's output of recent weeks.
"(Friday) night we got demolished by Waubonsie Valley and coming back it was a re-cooperation day. This is going to help us on our technique," Bergroschtje said. "Days like this it helps us out a lot. Say we mess up in our first match, the second match we work on it.
"Our work ethic isn't the best at times but it's getting better week by week. At the beginning of the year we all messed around, all goofed off but we're starting to get our heads on straight,"
Geneva only wrestled the Storm and the Trojans after facing off with Round Lake last week. The Vikings earned a 44-34 victory over the Storm but lost to North. In the win, Brad Martens (120), Mike Villanueva (152), Alex Kunkle (160) and Tony Castelvecchi (170) all earned pins. Round Lake (6-6) also split, losing to North as well, 43-17.
"You're living vicariously through these guys whether they're winning or losing or doing good or bad," Panthers coach Mike Hruska said. "We ride the emotional wave through all of that,"
Nick Moore (145) was so frustrated in Friday night's match after getting arm-barred so much he was a bit nervous on Saturday but tried to stay focused in his first match.
"All I wanted to do was dominate the guy," Moore said. "He kept trying to headlock me so I kept trying to yank the arm down."
In his second match, Moore needed just 2 more points to earn a tech fall but both competitors kept sweating so much that Moore went to the Steiner and it kept on, working for a major, putting his record to 9-3 overall after a 2-0 day.
The Arteaga brothers of Juan, Danny and Vidal were scrappy as always. Juan and Danny had their matches forfeited against the Storm and Vidal earned a pin in 27 seconds.
"One and one isn't that bad. Downers Grove North is really really tough," Hruska said. "You're never totally satisfied but you're never totally displeased. We're young. Half of these guys are freshmen and sophomores. We have a good future ahead if they keep working hard."