ROCHELLE — Head coach Alphonso Vruno wasn’t thrilled with the Rochelle varsity wrestling team’s effort during its triangular meet with Rock Falls and Erie-Prophetstown. Vruno was much happier with the team’s energy on Thursday, but the Hubs ran into a buzz saw known as the DeKalb Barbs.
With only sophomore Ben Harvey and junior Gavin Ansteth picking up victories, points were hard to come by for Rochelle. DeKalb won nearly all of its matches by fall, and the Barbs took over the auxiliary gym inside Rochelle Township High School, winning 65-6 over Rochelle and dropping the Hubs to 1-4 overall.
“I felt that our effort was very poor against Erie and Rock Falls,” Vruno said. “I knew those were going to be tough matchups for us but I didn’t feel that we wrestled very hard. I thought we wrestled hard tonight, but we were wrestling against DeKalb and they have a very good program. The effort was better tonight, and that’s all I ask for from the kids.”
The match started at 138 pounds, and Rochelle fell in an early hole when junior Keegan Davis-Carter and sophomore Osiris Lenker were each beaten by fall at 138 and 145. Senior Eddie Villalobos was handed a stunning loss by 6-5 decision at 152, and both junior Zeke Horn and sophomore Noah Messer fell by fall at 160 and 170.
With the Hubs trailing 27-0, Harvey took the mat against former state qualifier Logan Roach at 182. The two grapplers traded escapes over the second and third periods after a scoreless first period, leading to overtime. Roach reached for a takedown on Harvey, but the sophomore maneuvered his way around and scored in the first overtime period to win by 3-1 sudden victory.
“It was very exciting,” Vruno said. “We knew Roach would be very conservative and he’s very good at that style of wrestling. We knew the match would be close, and it wasn’t a surprise to me that the match went into overtime. It was nice to see Ben capitalize on Roach’s bad shot and get the win.”
Ansteth then entered the ring at 195 and built a sizable 7-0 lead over his opponent. But Ansteth was reversed before being nearly cradled into submission during the second period, breaking away after the official ruled an illegal hold in favor of DeKalb. With a slim 7-6 lead, Ansteth managed an escape and two more takedowns to hang on by 12-8 decision.
“Gavin showed a lot of improvement last year and we wanted to get him into the varsity lineup however possible,” Vruno said. “When I asked him about wrestling at 195 pounds, he didn’t hesitate. I was really excited, especially since he’s been battling some sinus issues over the last week or so. He fought through and got the win tonight.”
DeKalb received forfeits at 220, 113, 120 and 132. Rochelle senior James Rodriguez and sophomore Ivan Pineda each fell by 6-1 decision and fall at 285 and 106, respectively, while sophomore Grant Thompson lost by 19-3 technical fall at 126.