Larkin prevails in crosstown matchup

 
By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/6/2018 10:30 PM
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  • Elgin's Brian Rea, left, faces off against Larkin's Justin Valle at 126 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Valle won the match.

      Elgin's Brian Rea, left, faces off against Larkin's Justin Valle at 126 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Valle won the match. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Natalie Gonzalez, left, battles Larkin's Gavin Clark at 113 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Clark won the match by pin.

      Elgin's Natalie Gonzalez, left, battles Larkin's Gavin Clark at 113 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Clark won the match by pin. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Ivan Gutierrez, left, battles Larkin's Mehki McClenden at 120 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Gutierrez won the match.

      Elgin's Ivan Gutierrez, left, battles Larkin's Mehki McClenden at 120 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Gutierrez won the match. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Ivan Gutierrez, right, battles Larkin's Mehki McClenden at 120 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Gutierrez won the match.

      Elgin's Ivan Gutierrez, right, battles Larkin's Mehki McClenden at 120 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Gutierrez won the match. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Brian Rea, bottom, battles against Larkin's Justin Valle during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Valle won the match.

      Elgin's Brian Rea, bottom, battles against Larkin's Justin Valle during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Valle won the match. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Chris Santana, top, battles Larkin's Jayln Clark at 132 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Clark won the match.

      Elgin's Chris Santana, top, battles Larkin's Jayln Clark at 132 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Clark won the match. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Chris Santana, left, battles Larkin's Jayln Clark at 132 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Clark won the match.

      Elgin's Chris Santana, left, battles Larkin's Jayln Clark at 132 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Clark won the match. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Ivan Gutierrez flexes after winning over Larkin's Mehki McClenden at 120 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night.

      Elgin's Ivan Gutierrez flexes after winning over Larkin's Mehki McClenden at 120 pounds during varsity wrestling at Larkin on Thursday night. Patrick Kunzer | Staff Photographer

There's nothing more exciting than a wrestling dual between two crosstown rivals.

The shouting of the fans, some fiery individual bouts, and the excitement from a big crowd cheering their heroes.

If you are a fan of Larkin wrestling, it could not be any better than Thursday night on its home floor.

The Royals extended their unbeaten start to the season over their neighbor Elgin, and in doing so kept the Crosstown Classic trophy for the fifth consecutive year.

Larkin won eight straight bouts -- four of them by pins -- to overwhelm visiting Elgin 52-17 and move its overall record to 7-0, 2-0 in conference.

"This is a big one for us to win. (It) gives us bragging rights for another year," said Royals coach Mike Hodge.

"We won a lot of big matches tonight, but the one that I am most pleased (of) was Alexander Young's win at 138 over a returning sectional qualifier. That win gave our team a lot of momentum, and we took full advantage of it."

Elgin made the short drive over with the hope of changing its fortunes against its long-time rival, and appeared to have a chance at doing so after going out to a 12-6 lead.

"We used that forfeit at 106, then got a great effort from Ivan Gutierrez (120) to give us the start we wanted, but it quickly went south for us," said Elgin coach Mark Woollard.

Gutierrez led the Maroons last year with 27 wins.

"A couple of close ones that could have swung our way and could have helped, but in the end, Mike's guys really came out strong, and they were able to reel off eight straight to put us away."

Justin Valle, a 2018 sectional qualifier, began the Royals' offensive explosion with a well deserved 9-2 decision over Brian Rea.

"I'm usually at 120 (but) bumped up to (26) tonight, and felt real good at that weight tonight," said Valle, who won 25 a year ago.

"We wanted this (one) real bad tonight -- not only to keep the trophy another year, but also to stay undefeated, and we were able to do both."

The aforementioned Young would keep the big home crowd happy with his victory, which was followed by a pin from Balthazar Ramirez (145) and a hard-fought 10-8 win at 152 by Kevin Reyes.

Miguel Flores (160) was the bridge to back-to-back pins from Alan and Diego Facio before Felipe Franco ended the 37-0 run by the homeside.

"Elgin is always a team we want to beat every year," said Diego Facio, who fell short of joining his older brother Jesus downstate last season.

The Royals star, who went 28-8 last season, likes what he sees thus far in the early going from his teammates.

"We've had a great start -- the best since I've been here, and if we continue to work hard, it could be a real good season for all of us."

Both clubs will compete at area tournaments this Saturday, Elgin at the 41st Marchese Invite at Hoffman Estates, Larkin at the 43rd Rex Lewis at host Buffalo Grove.

"It's still real early in the season, but we'll see how the guys respond this weekend (which) with the way they have been working so hard this year, should be good when we go to Buffalo Grove," said Woollard.

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