ROCHELLE — Rochelle Hub varsity wrestling coach Alphonso Vruno has been happy with the effort his team has shown in dual matches this week. The Rochelle grapplers turned in another solid performance Thursday evening, when the Hubs battled the Interstate 8 Kaneland Knights and the nonconference Harlem Huskies in their second triangular meet in two days.
Rochelle opened the meet against Kaneland, fighting hard but ultimately falling 43-28 for the team’s first Interstate 8 loss of the season. The Hubs bounced back in the dual with Harlem, though, defeating the Huskies 52-27 and improving to 15-4 on the season. Rochelle will close out its conference schedule against Sycamore and LaSalle-Peru at Plano on Thursday, June 3.
“The kids put together four duals with really great effort this week,” Vruno said. “The consistency they showed this week was outstanding. I thought they wrestled hard and they scored bonus points whenever they could. They also prevented opponents from bonus points.”
The Hubs and Knights split the first two matches, with Kaneland’s Cameron Philips earning a 13-4 major decision over Rochelle freshman Tommy Tourdot at 106 pounds and Hub senior Ivan Pineda beating Knight wrestler Anthony Morales with a 13-2 major decision at 113 pounds. Kaneland went ahead 15-4 after a pin at 120 pounds and a technical fall at 126 pounds.
Sophomore Wesley Brown scored a big win at 132 pounds for the Hubs, recording two takedowns before pinning Dean Baldridge in the second period. Senior Grant Thompson and junior Caleb Nadig followed with pins at 138 and 145 pounds to give Rochelle a 22-15 lead. Kaneland won the next four matches at 152, 160, 170 and 182 pounds, stringing together 22 straight points behind a major decision, two pins and a forfeit to surge ahead 37-22.
Senior Ben Harvey kept the Hubs in the match, dominating the first period against Max Pietale at 195 pounds with three takedowns, two near falls and a pin. Kaneland sealed the dual win at 220 and 285 pounds, with Miles Ripper edging Hub senior Noah Messer for a 7-0 decision and Nate Diaz outlasting Rochelle sophomore Jaden Cook in a 5-1 decision to conclude the match.
“I think we’re right there with the best teams in the conference,” Vruno said. “I know the point differential was about two or three matches, but anything can happen on any given day. If we’re able to move some kids around or score some huge pins, anything can happen.”
The Huskies opened with an 10-0 advantage, scoring a pin at 120 pounds and a 17-6 major decision at 126 pounds. Wesley Brown recorded his second victory of the evening at 132 pounds, taking down Gabe McNames twice before pinning him for Rochelle’s first points. Grant Thompson followed with a 12-2 major decision over James Nelson at 138 pounds.
Caleb Nadig and freshman Brock Metzger took forfeits at 145 and 152 pounds to extend the Hub lead over Harlem. The Huskies received a forfeit at 160 pounds before pinning at 170 and taking another forfeit at 182 pounds. Ben Harvey received a forfeit at 195 pounds before Noah Messer sealed Rochelle’s victory with a 53-second pin against Nik Cannell at 220 pounds. Jaden Cook then pinned 285-pounder Dylan Hogan in 17 seconds and freshman Riley Damask took a forfeit at 106 pounds in the final bout of the dual.