ROCK FALLS — Zack Capes stepped into the ring against Rock Falls heavyweight Tristan Shaw with an opportunity to clinch the dual match victory for Rochelle when the Hubs and Rockets squared off in nonconference action Wednesday night.
Rochelle trailed Rock Falls by one point entering the 285-pound match, but Capes could change all of that with any sort of victory against Shaw in the final bout. The senior was wrestling his first match of the season, but he delivered when it mattered most, pinning Shaw in the second period to seal a 38-33 win over the Rockets.
“I was really nervous since it was my first match of the season but I stayed focused and I was able to win,” Capes said. “It felt pretty great to get that win so we could win the dual. I think I’m faster and a much better wrestler now. I need to continue working on my stand-up game and getting off the bottom.”
Rock Falls was the first of two opponents Rochelle faced Wednesday, with the third team being Erie-Prophetstown. Sophomore Caleb Nadig continued his strong start to the season, defeating Payhton Smith by 19-4 technical fall at 126 pounds. The Hubs trailed for the first half of the match, however, as Rock Falls won five straight matches to take a 33-11 lead.
Rochelle rallied to save the match though, responded with four unanswered victories including the pin from Capes. Senior Bryan Garza stayed solid with a pin against Dylan Williamson at 182 before junior Noah Messer held off Josh Woodard by 3-0 decision at 182. Junior Ben Harvey stepped up next for the Hubs, making easy work of Nolan Roberts with a first-period pin at 220.
“I think we’ve started the season off pretty well,” Harvey said. “Everybody’s working hard and we’re wrestling with much more pace this year… I think we can do well this year. We’ve had some injuries but everything will fall into place.”
Rochelle needed another late surge to defeat Erie-Prophetstown, as the Panthers led the Hubs 18-16 before the purple and white dominated the upper weights to score 24 unanswered points. The strong spurt allowed Rochelle to survive two late pins from Erie-Prophetstown and win 40-30 over the Panthers to sweep the triangular meet.
Nadig put Rochelle on the scoreboard with a decisive 12-3 major decision against Jayden Grunder at 126 pounds. Junior Grant Thompson converted on a third-period takedown to pin Jack Ruff at 132, but the Panthers scored a forfeit and two wins soon after to hold a slim lead. Senior Zeke Horn pushed the Hubs ahead, outlasting Jacob Otten with a third-period pin at 160.
Leading 22-18, Rochelle kept going after Garza survived Tyler Smith by 4-1 decision at 170 and Messer earned a 7-2 decision over Logan Wheeler at 182. Making his season-debut from a serious ankle injury, senior Gavin Ansteth delivered a key pin over Mack Foy at 220 to clinch the dual victory for the Hubs. Rochelle stands at 3-1 on the season.