Leyden stays undefeated
When John Kading took over a struggling Leyden wrestling program three years ago, the 1996 NCAA national champion told his team wins and losses will take care of themselves as long as they work hard, commit themselves to the team, trust the process and buy into what he and his staff are selling.
It appears his team has listened well to their head coach.
The Eagles (6-0-0) remain undefeated in the early going after sweeping all three of their opponents on Saturday inside famed Farina Field House in Franklin Park to cap a successful week of work.
"The message has remained from the first day I took over right on through to this season and although it's a long season, it's good to see the results we have thus far, and to see then improvement each day we're in the room," said Kading.
The Eagles' man in charge points to a strong quartet of team leaders -- seniors Erik Aguilar (160), Fernando Corona (285) and Ryan Jaffray (220) as well as junior Daniel Uribe (132) who have been key figures in the turnaround of this once proud program.
"Those four have led the way, as has the coaching staff. Everyone is on the same page of the book," says Kading. "Jaffray and Corona are great athletes for their size -- and getting Fernando back after he missed almost all of last year with a staph infection makes our upper weights so much better."
Jaffray, 34-7 a year ago, and 30 seconds away from advancing to the state tournament, continues to shine as one of Kading's original guys from when he started.
"My/our success comes from coach who has really revved up the workouts, making us so much tougher than ever before, which all of us are in it together as a team," said Jaffray.
Two days after defeating conference rival Downers Grove South for the first time in recent memory (37-26) the Eagles spent this annual early season quad with a 53-18 victory over Buffalo Grove, then overwhelming New Trier (69-3) to set their final dual of the day against another rising club, Crystal Lake South, which has been unable to get back on track after the 2015 state championship run by Eric Barone, now starring at Illinois.
"There's been a surge in our numbers resulting in a lot of excitement from a good group of returning wrestlers, two of which were state qualifiers, as well as quality newcomers into our program, so our expectations this year are much higher than they have been in quite awhile," said Crystal Lake South coach Ross Ryan.
Peyton Timmons (126) and Christian Olsen (113), the face of the Gators' rebuilding project, led their team to a pair of impressive victories over New Trier (57-21) then Buffalo Grove (51-22) before the host Eagles dealt South (6-1-0) its first loss of the season, 49-18.
"Leyden is a very good team, but I am really liking what I see from our team so far, because we support each other like family, and I know we're going to get better each time out," said Timmons, who went 39-5 a year ago, joining Olsen (45-3) in Champaign, and cheering on the-then freshman who finished fourth overall at state.
"The effort was very good today, but what some of the guys need to learn is to battle hard for the entire six minutes, because when you don't then we lose those tight matches we can win just as we did today against Leyden," added Ryan.
Buffalo Grove, coming off an exciting 39-35 win over MSL East rival Elk Grove on Friday, went 1-2 on the day, but finished on a high note with a 46-18 victory over New Trier.
"It was great to get a big conference win last night but today you saw us having six matches in the last 48 hours kind of catching up to us a little bit," admitted Buffalo Grove head coach Kurt Kutska. "We're banged up here and there, but we still received another terrific performance from Alejandro (Mejia) as well as our other two leaders, Andy Polk (160) and Michael Goubine (182) who fought hard to give us five wins out of six matches."
Polk, who was out of the lineup on Thursday with the flu, recorded two falls with the junior Goubine adding a 5-3 decision, plus a forfeit against New Trier.
Mejia stayed perfect on the season at 8-0 with three impressive victories, one coming when he bumped up to 152 earning a 10-1 major over Leyden.
The junior, who began at BG as a freshman before moving to Kentucky for his sophomore year, has beaten 2A state-ranked Jeremiah Duty (North Chicago) and 3A state-ranked Jack Lingle (Schaumburg) already.