DIXON — It was quite the debut for Rochelle sophomore Caleb Nadig when the Hubs began the 2019-20 season with their annual triangular meet with Dixon and Burlington Central on Tuesday.
Nadig needed only 36 seconds to record his first Hub victory, pinning Burlington Central’s Sayf Afeef during Rochelle’s dual with the Rockets. His second opponent was Dixon’s Hakeem Banks, who won a regional championship for the Dukes last season. While Banks was a far more formidable foe, Nadig wasted no time scoring an early takedown before controlling the match all the way through and finishing with an 11-3 major decision.
“I was defending my legs well,” Nadig said. “We knew before the match that he was going to be really quick, and I needed to be strong on offense so he wouldn’t get any shots on me. The Rochelle team has really great camaraderie and the guys really pump me up. We’re excited to be here and we have a great team atmosphere.”
The Hubs defeated Burlington Central 52-24 to open the season 1-0 overall. The match started with five consecutive falls from both teams, as the Rockets totaled three pins and Rochelle notched pins from senior Bryan Garza at 170 pounds and junior Ben Harvey at 195 pounds. Forfeits for senior Gavin Ansteth at 285 and junior Ivan Pineda at 106 put the Hubs ahead before Burlington Central answered with Michaela Kruse’s pin at 113.
“I was wrestling really well on top but I need to keep working on my shots,” Garza said. “We still have plenty of time ahead to get better. I know that if I can go out there and wrestle well, my teammates will follow me up. It’s my senior year and I want to give it everything I have.”
Freshman Weldon Nay earned a forfeit at 120 to give Rochelle the 30-24 lead before pins from Nadig at 126 and junior Grant Thompson at 132 extended the advantage over the Rockets. Sophomore Ethan Tooley closed the match out with a forfeit win at 152, but that wasn’t before senior Keegan Davis-Carter dominated Burlington Central’s Nathan Kim in a 14-4 major, scoring multiple hard takedowns early in the match.
“My shots were working really well tonight,” Davis-Carter said. “I’ve worked really hard on getting off the bottom and I’ve become stronger on the top. I need to focus on my turns and I have to keep working hard in the weight room and at practice. We want to place at state and we’re going to work hard until we get there.”
Rochelle fell 45-25 against Dixon to finish the evening 1-1 overall. Garza got the Hubs started on the right foot, defeating Cameron Vardez by 8-2 decision in a hard-fought opening match. Dixon’s Quinn Staples outlasted junior Noah Messer by 3-1 decision at 182 before the Dukes claimed three consecutive forfeits to take a 21-3 lead.
A forfeit for Pineda at 106 led to a pin at 113 and a forfeit at 120 for the Dukes, who led 33-9 before Nadig stopped the bleeding with his decisive victory over Banks at 126. Thompson took a forfeit at 132, but Dixon responded with a pin at 138. Davis-Carted edged Dixon’s Owen Brooks by 5-2 decision at 145 before the Dukes iced the win with a pin at 152.