ROCHELLE — The Rochelle varsity wrestling team earned its first victory under head coach Alphonso Vruno when the Hubs hosted Dixon and Burlington Central for a nonconference triangular meet Tuesday evening.
Rochelle began the three-team meet with a 48-18 win against Burlington Central behind five consecutive pins from 152 to 195 pounds. The Hubs fell to a tough Dixon squad 54-21 to end the night with an overall record of 1-1.
“It was a real team effort,” Vruno said. “The kids are working their butts off during every practice… There’s a lot of hard work going on in there so it was nice to see them get their first dual win tonight. I think that we’re in shape but we were struggling to get away from the bottom. We had a lot of big pins tonight.”
Burlington Central began the dual against Rochelle win a victory when Michael Dubanowski edged junior James Rodriguez by 4-2 decision at 285 pounds. Sophomore Ivan Pineda got the Hubs on the scoreboard with a 21-13 major decision over Justin Genenz at 106.
After Rochelle freshman Nate Burdin earned a forfeit at 113 and the Hubs forfeited at 120, sophomore Grant Thompson dominated Sayf Afeef by 17-0 technical fall at 126. Freshman Ethan Tooley fell against Tom Zettyl by 14-10 decision at 132 before junior Keegan Davis-Carter won by 9-4 decision over John Sanders at 138.
“Grant wrestled a lot of varsity matches last season and seeing him go 2-0 tonight… Our young wrestlers really stepped up for us,” Vruno said. “It means a lot for me to see them progressing, and I think they can produce some varsity wins for us this year.”
Senior Eddie Villalobos squared off against state champion Nick Termini at 145 pounds, nearly going the distance before falling by 3-1 decision. With the match tied 15-15, Rochelle won five straight matches by fall courtesy of senior Jacob Fore (152), junior Zeke Horn (160), sophomore Noah Messer (170), sophomore Ben Harvey (182) and junior Gavin Ansteth (195). Senior Nick Henson fell by 9-3 decision to Josue Ferro at 220 to conclude the match.
Rochelle fell behind 18-0 after Dixon began the match with two pins from Hakeem Banks and Will Weidman over Ivan Pineda and Nate Burdin. The Hubs conceited a forfeit at 120 pounds before Grant Thompson’s strong effort against Beau Evans, winning by fall at 126. Ethan Tooley earned a forfeit at 132, and Keegan Davis-Carter battled hard in a loss by 3-1 decision to Isaac Sanchez at 138.
Eddie Villalobos picked up an 11-4 decision against Bryce Christensen at 145 to cut Dixon’s lead to 21-15. But the Dukes pinned three straight Hubs including Jacob Fore (152), Zeke Horn (160) and Noah Messer (170) to extend their lead by 18 points. Trailing 39-15, Rochelle bounced back when Ben Harvey rallied to pin Clint Schielein at 182.
“We had a lot of good matchups against Dixon,” Vruno said. “We pulled out a few wins, but we’re also wrestling a team with kids who are ranked at many weights including 160, 170, 182 and 195. That shows us what it takes to compete at a high level, and now we know where we’re at against a quality team like Dixon.”
Gavin Ansteth (195) and Nick Henson (220) each lost by fall before Riley Riggen edged James Rodriguez by 1-0 decision at 285 to seal the match for Dixon. Rochelle will host Rock Falls and Erie-Prophetstown on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 5 p.m.