Grant turns away Wauconda
An old rivalry was renewed once again when host Wauconda faced Grant in the Northern Lake County Conference wrestling opener for both squads Friday night.
The battle of the Bulldogs saw the host Bulldogs hampered by three forfeits, but they still managed to hang tough in the dual meet despite falling behind 27-6 after five matches.
No. 17-ranked Grant (1-1, 1-0) proved to be too powerful in the end as the Bulldogs posted a 46-26 NLCC victory before a fired-up Wauconda crowd.
Starting the meet at 220 pounds, Grant's Alex Gomez won by forfeit. But Wauconda (1-5, 0-1) deadlocked the score at 6-6 when 285-pounder McGwire Landvick pinned his opponent in 2:30.
Grant took control of the meet early on at the lower weights as a forfeit win by 106-pounder Sean Rogan made the score 12-6.
Then came a huge pin by Grant junior Nolan Flores at 113 as Flores pinned 2019 state qualifier Jack Sullivan with only 17 seconds left in the third period as Sullivan could not avoid the pin on the edge of the mat. This is Flores' first year wrestling after playing hockey the previous two winters.
"I'm definitely proud of my confidence. I'm just going to keep grinding and try to make state," said Flores, who led 7-4 early in the third period. "We improved our focus tonight, we kept on rolling, and we gained the win."
At 120, Grant's Derek Akers captured a 12-5 decision over freshman Rene Terrazos before teammate Chris Lozos' pin in 2:29 boosted the lead to 21 points.
A trio of sophomores started Wauconda's big comeback as 132-pounder Colin Husko's 8-0 major decision over Justin Warmowski got the Bulldogs' rally going.
Then 138-pounder Vince Bennett recorded a pin in 3:09 before 145-pound teammate Dennis Kloss posted a 9-1 major decision over Bradley Berg to cut Grant's lead to 27-20. Berg was nearly pinned very late in the third period, but he was saved by the final buzzer.
"For a sophomore (Kloss) to go out there and get bonus points for us was great, and he came through big for his team," said Wauconda coach Mike Buhr, whose team only started one senior. "The guys did a really good job fighting tonight, they were willing to put it on the line, and they gave themselves a chance to beat Grant spotting them 18 points to begin with."
Grant turned it on with Dylan Rinkenberger's 7-4 decision over Nick Bennett at 152 boosting its lead back up to 30-20 with four bouts left.
Eddy Tregenza followed with an 11-0 major decision at 160 before a forfeit win by Brett Riggs (170) made the score 40-20.
State qualifier Justin Brown added a pin for Grant at 182 before a pin by Wauconda's Matt Merevick (195) accounted for the final score. Grant 2019 state qualifier Ethan Geist missed the meet due to illness.
"We did OK. We had some guys in the lineup who got a chance to start, and we have a lot of work ahead of us," said Grant coach Lenny Grodoski, whose team hosts a tough triple-dual meet on Saturday.
"I think they surprised us in a couple of matches, and they didn't come out like we thought they would. Sullivan is a tough wrestler and this is Nolan's first year wrestling in high school so that was a big win for him."