Wrestling: Hubs win twice in Senior Night finale
Senior athletes recognized as Rochelle takes down Amboy, Princeton
ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub wrestling team sent its senior athletes off with two more victories Thursday evening, when the purple and white capped off a historic regular season with two nonconference dual matches against the Princeton Tigers and the Amboy Clippers.
Seniors Jorge Driggs, Troy Papke and Josey Weber were each recognized for their contributions to the wrestling program during their time at RTHS. The Hubs continued to celebrate their Senior Night in dominant fashion, cruising over Amboy 69-10 before fending off Princeton 45-32 to end the regular season on a 13-match winning streak. Rochelle (28-1, 7-0 Interstate 8) will wrestle in the IHSA 2A Rockford East Regional next Saturday, Feb. 4.
“Troy’s a four-year wrestler for us and he’s balanced a lot of activities during his time with our program,” head coach Alphonso Vruno said. “He had some really good matches toward the end of the season. Jorge has only been with us for two years, but he’s put a lot of effort and heart into the sport. Josey’s a three-year wrestler and she came back out after taking a year off. She looks really good and we’re looking forward to watching her wrestle at the Oregon tournament.”
Rochelle scored 30 unanswered points to open the dual match against the Clippers. Sophomore Robert Stoffel and freshman Keagan Albers received forfeits for the 285-pound and 106-pound bouts before junior Tommy Tourdot overcame flu-like symptoms to earn a second-period fall against Landon Blanton in the 113-pound bout. Sophomore Xavier Villalobos took down Chase Montavon twice before recording a first-period fall to win the 120-pound bout for the Hubs.
“The kids are wrestling really well right now,” Vruno said. “We have some kids battling some illnesses, but the kids who are healthy are wrestling at a really high level right now. We’re going to give the kids a few days off and we’re going to hit the ground running on Monday so we can make a postseason push. The regional has been on our minds since the start of the season.”
Sophomore Joseph Nadig received a forfeit for the 126-pound bout before Amboy notched its first victory of the dual, with Levi Near scoring a 13-0 major decision over freshman Frank Nasca in the 132-pound bout. Amboy’s Josh McKendry then recorded a first-period fall over junior Riley Damask in the 138-pound bout to make the score 30-10 in favor of the purple and white.
Freshman Brenden Voight received a forfeit for the 145-pound bout and sophomore Grant Gensler held off Lucas Blanton for a 5-2 decision in the 152-pound bout to extend the Rochelle lead. Sophomore Erich Metzger made quick work of Austin Heath in the 160-pound bout, using a quick takedown-to-pin combination to secure the fall. Freshman Roman Villalobos (170) as well as juniors Brock Metzger (182) and Alex McBride (195) all received forfeits. Jorge Driggs capped off the win with a takedown and fall over Kole Beckham in the 220-pound bout.
The Tigers struck first in the dual against the Hubs, with Augustus Swanson notching a second-period fall over Keagan Albers in the 106-pound bout. Rochelle took the lead after Tommy Tourdot received a forfeit for the 113-pound bout and Xavier Villalobos cradled Kaydin Gibson into a first-period fall during the 120-pound bout. Frank Nasca extended the Hub lead in the 126-pound bout, totaling three takedowns and a third-period fall over Gage Nutter.
A key win for the Hubs came during the 132-pound bout, where Joseph Nadig bumped up one weight class and fought back and forth against Ace Christiansen, defending a takedown attempt in the final seconds to earn a 7-6 decision. Princeton surged back in the match during the 138-pound and 145-pound bouts, where Carlos Benavidez scored a second-period fall over Riley Damask and Augie Christiansen defeated Brenden Voight with a 19-3 technical fall.
Casey Etheridge gave the Tigers a 23-21 lead, notching a first-period fall over sophomore Jordan Bly. Erich Metzger answered for the Hubs, totaling two takedowns and a second-period fall against Preston Arkels to win the 160-pound bout. Princeton and Rochelle exchanged pins over the 170-pound and 182-pound bouts, where Carson Etheridge defeated Roman Villalobos before Brock Metzger cradled Eli Berlin to put the Hubs back ahead of the Tigers 33-29.
Princeton came within one point of the Hubs after Ian Morris outlasted Alex McBride for a 6-3 decision in the 195-pound bout. With no wrestlers to compete over the final two weight classes, the Tigers forfeited the 220-pound and 285-pound bouts to Kaiden Morris and Robert Stoffel.