ROCHELLE — The ebb and flow between the Rochelle and Sandwich wrestling teams culminated in the 113-pound bout between Weldon Nay and Indian grappler Dougie Taxis.
With fans from both schools cheering loudly Thursday night, Nay and Taxis traded points throughout the first and second periods. An escape from Nay tied the match 3-3 before a takedown and back-to-back reversals pushed the Rochelle freshman ahead 7-5. But the building erupted in applause when Nay took and pinned Taxis down at the 3:41 mark to win the bout, a critical victory for the Hubs who narrowly escaped Sandwich with a 39-30 victory.
“That was great,” Nay said. “I felt like I shouldn’t have won that match but I tried my hardest and I was able to get through and beat him… Coach [Alphonso] Vruno told me before break that it’s about time I start winning my matches, and sure enough, I’ve won most of my matches since then. We support each other through the wins and it motivates us to do better.”
Senior Keegan Davis-Carter opened the match for Rochelle, defeating 138-pounder Aidan Linden via 7-2 decision. After Sandwich standout Cael Schindlbeck pinned Wade Samp in the 145-pound bout, the Hubs (13-2 overall) evened the match when sophomore Ethan Tooley wrestled up and outlasted Nolan Reilly with a 7-5 decision in the 152-pound bout.
“It feels really good to win,” Tooley said. “Coach Vruno told me I was going to wrestle up and I went with the flow. I played defense for most of the match and I had one good move to get him on his back. I was really hyped. I think I’ve improved my defense a lot and I’m keeping my weight down to prevent my opponents from getting shots on me.”
Sandwich won both the 160-pound and the 170-pound bouts behind Eddie Brown’s fall over Zeke Horn and Jackson Murphy’s 9-2 decision against Bryan Garza. The Indians extended their lead when Alex Alfaro pinned Noah Messer in the 182-pound matchup. Ben Harvey delivered in the 195-pound bout for Rochelle with a 7-1 decision over Sammy Dale.
With his team trailing 21-9, senior Gavin Ansteth stepped up with an enormous win in the 220-pound bout against Connor Holly. Ansteth led 2-0 after a first-period takedown, but a reversal in the second period led to Rochelle’s first fall of the match. Zack Capes took a forfeit in the 285-pound matchup for the Hubs, tying the match 21-21.
A back-and-forth tilt between Rochelle’s Ivan Pineda and Anthony Sparti highlighted the 106-pound bout. Pineda trailed 4-3 before earning an escape in the third period to even the match. With roughly 15 seconds remaining, Sparti scored a takedown to claim the bout by 6-4 decision. Nay’s fall over Taxis pushed the Hubs ahead 27-24.
The Indians forfeited the 120-pound bout for Rochelle’s Josey Weber, leading to sophomore Caleb Nadig’s dominant fall over Evan Reilly in the 126-pound matchup that sealed the team victory. Sandwich closed the dual with Braulio Flores pinning Grant Thompson at 132 pounds.