Wrestling: Hubs cruise in Interstate 8 tourney opener

Sophomore Troy Papke nearly pins LaSalle-Peru's Gage Swiskoski during the Rochelle Hub varsity wrestling meet against the Cavaliers on Wednesday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Harvey sets new career wins record as Rochelle tops LaSalle-Peru 62-9

ROCHELLE — When Ben Harvey started his wrestling career at Rochelle Township High School, he was a freshman while his older brother Alex was a senior. The two brothers competed side-by-side for the varsity team, helping the Hubs reach the IHSA 2A State Dual Championships.

Alex finished his career with several RTHS wrestling records including the career pins record, which Ben successfully surpassed earlier this season. The younger brother broke another one of the older brother’s marks on Wednesday, when Rochelle defeated LaSalle-Peru 62-9 to open the Interstate 8 Conference dual tournament. Ben received a forfeit at 182 pounds, netting him 140 career victories and snapping Alex’s old record of 139 set during the 2017-18 season.

“I’ve been able to perform consistently throughout my career,” Harvey said. “Alex has helped me focus more on the little things during the wrestling season. He’s helped me learn how to work on small improvements that make a big difference. He’s helped me improve my practice habits and my pre-match routines. I even wear the same colored head gear as he did."

The Hubs (20-5) scored 17 straight points to open their dual against the Cavaliers on Wednesday. Freshmen Riley Damask and Tommy Tourdot scored pins against Sylvester St. Peter and Zach Znaniecki at 106 and 113 pounds, respectively, while senior Ivan Pineda followed with 17-0 technical fall over Kaleb Volk at 120 pounds. LaSalle-Peru avoided a shutout with its first victory at 126 pounds, where Gunnar Skoog won by fall for six Cavalier points.

Rochelle received consecutive forfeits at 132, 138, 145, 152 and 160 pounds, with sophomore Wesley Brown, senior Grant Thompson, junior Caleb Nadig, freshman Brock Metzger and junior Matt Eyster all earning freebies. At 170 pounds, sophomore Troy Papke outlasted Gage Swiskoski with a 7-5 decision before Harvey’s forfeit put the Hub grapplers ahead 56-6.

After a double forfeit at 195 pounds, LaSalle-Peru’s Connor Lorden earned an 8-4 decision over Hub senior Noah Messer at 220 pounds. Rochelle sophomore Jaden Cook closed out the dual with a victory at 285 pounds, taking down and pinning Cavalier heavyweight Rylan Poole. The Hubs will advance to wrestle in a quadrangular meet at Sycamore on Friday at 5 p.m. Rochelle is now two dual victories away from tying the single-season dual wins record of 22.

“We need to wrestle hard and keep the same energy we had today,” Harvey said. “We need to wrestle really well and do everything we can… The teammates and the coaches I’ve worked with throughout my career are people I’d consider some of my best friends.”

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