ROCHELLE — The Rochelle wrestling team celebrated its seven seniors with one of the program’s best performances of the season Thursday evening, when the Hubs battled the Princeton Tigers on Senior Night for the team’s final dual meet of the regular season.
Rochelle won 12 of the 14 varsity bouts in the match, with eight of the victories coming by either fall or forfeit. All seven seniors (Gavin Ansteth, Zack Capes, Keegan Davis-Carter, Diego Escobar, Bryan Garza, Zeke Horn and Hezekiah Jefferson) recorded wins for the Hubs, who blew out the Tigers by a score of 62-12 and improved to 18-4 overall. Rochelle will compete in the IHSA 2A Sycamore Regional on Saturday, Feb. 8 beginning at 9 a.m.
“I told the kids that it would be an exciting atmosphere tonight,” head coach Alphonso Vruno said. “We had a really nice crowd tonight and the kids treated the match like it was a big deal. They wrestled like every point mattered, and I thought the kids wrestled hard tonight.”
Junior Ivan Pineda (17-16) scored first for the Hubs, defeating Steven Benavidez with a first-period pin during the 106-pound bout. 113-pounder Josey Weber and 132-pounder Grant Thompson (19-17) earned forfeits, and Davis-Carter (26-8) extended Rochelle’s lead with a dominant 24-9 technical fall over 138-pounder Carson Etheridge that included 11 takedowns.
Sophomore Ethan Tooley (21-17) started strong before holding out to earn a 7-4 decision against 145-pounder Braden Boyles. Princeton forfeited the 152-pound bout for Horn (21-18), and Escobar (9-7) followed by scoring a near fall in the third period to defeat Jimmy Kurth 8-5 in the 160-pound bout. Garza (25-12) and Harvey (35-2) put the Hubs ahead 47-12 with pins against 170-pounder Jesse Wright and 182-pounder Drew Harp, respectively.
Three seniors wrestled the final three bouts for Rochelle including Jefferson, who went into overtime and outlasted 195-pounder Isaiah Franklin with a 9-7 sudden victory. Ansteth (22-9) won by fall over Matt Cihocki in the 220-pound matchup, and Capes (18-15) sealed the Rochelle victory with a big-time throw to pin Cole Reynolds in the 285-pound bout.
“We’re looking to rest up before going into next week,” Vruno said. “We’re going to work hard next week and we know the competition at the regional will be tough. We can’t control that, but we can control how we prepare, and that’s the mindset I’ve been pushing to the kids. They’re excited about next week and they’re excited about hosting the sectional here.”