Glenbard North yields to Oak Park
Glenbard North had the momentum and the numbers.
Oak Park-River Forest had the superior odds.
The Panthers' bid for an 11th state trophy in team dual wrestling appeared very much in their grasp when star Abe Assad punctuated his extraordinary high school years by pinning the Huskies' Daemyen Middlebrooks at 182 pounds to expand his team's lead to 11 points with three matches remaining.
Glenbard North's dream season ended on a bittersweet and melancholy note when Oak Park-River Forest rallied for the 33-31 victory in a Class 3A DeKalb sectional on Tuesday night.
Trailing 31-27 entering the final match, Oak Park-River Forest standout Ashford Hollis recorded a pin against Glenbard North freshman Paulie Robertson at 5:16.
Hollis finished in third place in the individual state meet last weekend at the University of Illinois.
Glenbard North (22-5) showed tremendous resilience, toughness and skill in battling the Huskies (22-3), ranked No. 2 in the team rankings of the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association.
With one state championship, legendary Panthers coach Mark Hahn seemed on the verge of one of his greatest coaching jobs.
His voice weathered and drawn, Hahn was stoic about his team's inability to finish off the 31-20 lead following Assad's victory.
"I thought our kids really wrestled well," Hahn said. "Our guys were right there. Oak Park is a great team. They knew what they had to get and they did it when it counted."
Glenbard North won six out of the 14 matches. Ronan Schuelke (106 pounds) and Ani Zaimi (132) also recorded pins. David Gilliam (126) scored a major decision with a 15-1 victory over David Deyro.
In one of the most competitive matches, Anthony Pennington recorded three takedowns in pulling out the riveting 7-4 victory over Danny Lingen at 170 pounds.
Ryan Wahrman (160 pounds) was awarded a forfeit victory.
The most scintillating match occurred at 195 pounds. Mershad Bashang, a late replacement, recovered from a 3-0 deficit in executing a reversal and takedown for a 6-4 advantage late in the third period against the Huskies' Brian Ziech.
Ziech forced overtime with a takedown with 18 seconds remaining and secured the 8-6 victory.
Glenbard North showed great mettle and toughness given its lineup featured four sophomores and two freshmen.
Assad, a two-time state champion, finished a remarkable 46-1. Schuelke, George Marre (150 pounds) and Pennington also finished the year with top state places.
By any standard Glenbard North had a superb year.
"There were other places we could have won it," Hahn said. "It didn't necessarily come down to the last three guys. It is unfortunate it ended this way. (OPRF) was ripe for the pickings.
"I am very proud of our guys and the season we had."