ROCHELLE — Eighty-four points are the maximum amount that any high school team can score in an IHSA wrestling dual. The only way that many points can be obtained is through winning every bout by either fall or forfeit, and the Rochelle wrestlers did exactly that during their dual against Marquette Academy on Saturday.
The short-handed Crusaders fielded only four varsity wrestlers, forfeiting 10 bouts to the Hubs and giving Rochelle a 60-point advantage right away. The four Rochelle grapplers who did compete took care of business, though, recording pins to help the Hubs top Marquette Academy 84-0 to close out their quadrangular meet with Rockford Jefferson and East Peoria. Rochelle improved to 10-2 overall with the three dual wins.
“The kids are continuing to show progress and this meet was a sneak peek of our full lineup,” head coach Alphonso Vruno said. “We have Diego [Escobar] down to 160 pounds now, Keegan [Davis-Carter] made it down to 138 pounds and we have Gavin [Ansteth] down to 195 pounds… We were really excited to see what this team will look like in action, and we think the kids are wrestling really well. We’re becoming a good team.”
152-pounder Zeke Horn recorded Rochelle’s first pin of the dual with Marquette Academy, dominating Branden Sampson in only 1 minute and 3 seconds. 170-pounder Bryan Garza fared equally as well against Jake Mitchell, pinning him in 1 minutes and 17 seconds. After 126-pounder Caleb Nadig won by fall over Easton Kent in 48 seconds, 132-pounder Grant Thompson stepped into the ring with Rochelle ahead 78-0.
Thompson fought a tough match against Logan Petre, but the junior slowly built up a lead after a strong performance in the second period. A near shoulder injury fired Petre up in the third, but it wasn’t enough, as Thompson recovered from a quick reversal to pin his opponent and complete Rochelle’s sweep of the Crusaders.
“I feel like I’ve improved my shots a lot,” Thompson said. “I felt that I wasn’t very confident in my shooting before this season, but these last few duals have really helped my confidence. I feel that we have another chance to go to state this year, and everyone needs to come together so we can make that happen. Everyone needs to be at their weights and go 100 percent.”
Rochelle opened the quadrangular meet with an easy win over Rockford Jefferson, topping the J-Hawks 77-6 behind seven forfeit victories and five falls. The varsity freshmen stepped up for the Hubs in their dual with Rockford Jefferson, as 113-pounders Josey Weber and Weldon Nay each had excellent performances against their J-Hawk opponents. Weber pinned Jadin Spicer in less than 45 seconds at 113 pounds, while Nay moved up to 120 and took down Mick Fasino with an 18-2 technical fall that featured several strong takedowns and near falls.
“The freshmen were really intimidated about wrestling on the varsity level right away, but we told them we were going to put them out there this season and help them be successful,” Vruno said. “They have bought into that and they’re starting to trust the coaches. They’re working stuff they know and they’re doing it at a high level right now, which is really nice to see. Josey took an awesome shot in her match today and got the pin.”
160-pounder Diego Escobar managed to turn Ethan Pope for a pin late in the first period (1:50) before Bryan Garza followed with a fall victory at the 38-second mark in the 170-pound bout. Caleb Nadig and Grant Thompson each notched pins for the Hubs, who only dropped one head-to-head bout in the dual with the J-Hawks.
The Hubs faced East Peoria second in the quadrangular meet, compiling another solid team performance to win 55-15. Rochelle create a 9-0 lead after Grant Thompson pinned his opponent in the 132-pound bout and Keegan Davis-Carter held off Levi Robison to win by 8-7 decision in the 138-pound bout. State-ranked wrestler Tristen Westbay put East Peoria on the scoreboard with a 9-3 decision over 145-pounder Ethan Tooley.
Rochelle rallied off 35 straight points to emerge with a 44-3 lead entering the 285-pound bout. Zeke Horn and Bryan Garza both pinned their opponents, while Gavin Ansteth moved up to the 220-pound weight and turned Luke Brooks over for a fall at the 1:10 mark. Ben Harvey went up to the 195-pound weight and cruised over Jonah Ziegler, winning by 19-3 technical fall.
State-ranked East Peoria heavyweight Caleb Collins broke the Rochelle scoring streak, netting the Raiders six points with a fall over 285-pounder Zack Capes. 106-pounder Ivan Pineda nearly earned a major decision for the Hubs, winning 11-4 against Curtis Stage before Weldon Nay compiled a 14-8 victory in the 113-pound bout. Caleb Nadig iced the win by recording 11 takedowns in his 23-8 technical fall against Kortney Atchley in the 126-pound bout.