For the Morris wrestling team, ending 2013 with three straight losses was not ideal. Add in the fact that each of those matches came down to the final bout, and the Redskins were certainly ready for the new year and the season to restart after the break.
On Thursday night at MCHS, Sycamore came to town and again the match came down to the final bout. This time, however, the Redskins emerged victorious, beating the Spartans by a 38-33 score.
“It was nice to come out on top of one that we knew was going to be a barn brawl,” Morris coach Jon Lanning said. “We just lost three to LaSalle-Peru, Pontiac and Ottawa, and all three of those came down to one match here or one match there. If one of those results gets changed the score gets switched around. So, it was nice for us to come out on top in this one.”
The match started at the 120-pound bout where Sycamore’s Kyle Akins won by fall in 2:44 over Jared Bernard. The Spartans then went up 12-0 when Logan Mathey pinned Dominic Byerly in :24.
Morris got on the board when Kenny Baldridge won by fall in 1:13, and the Redskins crept within one when A.J. Vota won by a technical fall against Jesus Renteria.
However, Sycamore began to separate itself in the match and at one point had opened up a 33-14 lead before Morris closed out the night with four straight wins to claim the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East dual.
“We had some good matches. There were some close ones. We do have a couple of guys out, but that’s all right, though,” Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. “I thought Patrick Mathey stepped in there and got a big pin at 170. But there were a couple of other matches, I thought, we needed to fight a little bit more, where we could have gotten a little bit better effort. But the team battled. It was a close dual. A fun dual to be part of. Tonight, there were a lot of good things, but there are obviously other things we need to work on.”
Sycamore (7-9) got a win from Andrew Larsen in :46 over Cody Decker at 145 pounds, and Michael Ernster beat Emmet Chouinard 4-0 at 152. Trevor Allbert outlasted Michael Beaudoin for Morris at 160 by winning 6-2, but then Sycamore got two wins (Mathey and Christopher Malone) around a double forfeit at 182 that gave the Spartans that 33-14 lead.
“I knew this was going to be a close one on paper,” Lanning said. “There were matches tonight where they were clearly better than us and there were matches where we were clearly better than them. Then there were matches that were dead even. We hung in there and then our freshman Andrew Smith finished if off for us.”
Dalton Ness got things going in the right direction for the Redskins (8-6) by winning at 220 by fall in :27 over Sean Brinkman, and Mason Dryfhout (285) and Tony Menozi (106) got forfeit wins to leave the scoreboard emblazoning a 33-32 score favoring Sycamore.
“It was tough – 33-32 before my match and we were losing,” Smith said.
“I knew I had to come through with a win. That I had to be on offense the entire time.”
Lanning went up to Smith with five bouts left on the night and basically told him he had better be ready because he was going to have the chance to win it for his team.
“I knew it was going to be on him,” Lanning said. “I told him it was going to come down to him in a one-point match and that’s what it was. He came through in the end.”
Smith led 2-0 over Tegan Norris after the first period and then moved out to an 8-2 lead before winning by fall in 5:03.
“We were in a rut there for a little bit, so we had to win this one,” Smith said.