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Oswego grinds out first win : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Oswego grinds out first win
McFall starts 4-0 on the mat, Panther wrestling defeats Normal U-High

by Kristin Sharp


The Oswego wrestling team set the tone for a competitive season with four challenging dual meets in the opening week.

The Panthers (1-3) traveled to Yorkville on Nov. 27 to start the year and lost 52-15 to the Foxes.

Junior Andrew McFall won a 16-4 major decision at 126 while senior Nick Schultz won a 1-0 decision at 138 and senior Kushtrim Balazi won a 9-1 major decision at 145. Junior CJ Brown also gave Oswego four points with a 12-3 major decision win at 220.

Yorkville has been a top-ranked Class 2A program in recent years, but will make its debut in the Class 3A field this postseason and the neighboring teams could meet again in a regional tournament in February.

"Yorkville has a tough program and they're flat out physical kids," Oswego head coach Andrew Cook said. "You could see some of our inexperience at the varsity level come out. We pushed the pace, but they were a little more physical than we were. They're a tough program, that's for sure. It's good to get pushed and a good measuring tool to see where we're at."

Oswego spent last Saturday in Moline facing three opponents in the circle. First, the Panthers met Normal U-High and won their first meet of the year, 42-22. Luke Pradel won a 14-1 major decision at 106 while McFall won by fall in 33 seconds at 120 and sophomore Blake Huffmon won a 6-5 decision at 126. Senior Alex Clifton won a 9-4 decision at 152, senior Andrew Gillingham won a 6-3 decision at 170 and senior Mike Salamone won a 9-3 decision at 170.

Oswego lost a 42-29 match to Alton with four wins on the mat. McFall won a 17-2 tech fall and Huffmon won a 3-1 decision while Balazi won an 8-5 decision and Josh Torres won by pin at the 2:50 mark for the win at 152.

McFall and Huffmon, who both went 3-0 on the day, sealed the day with wins over Moline, but the Panthers fell 42-21. McFall pinned his opponent at the 1:40 mark while Huffmon recorded a 5-3 decision. Balazi, who went 2-0 on the day, won a 15-2 major decision and Torres won his second match of the day with a win by fall in 5:54. Brown also recorded an 11-7 win for Oswego.

"They wrestled well," Cook said. "It was nice to see some new faces wrestling against us and see some teams that are usually in our sectional now. We had opportunities to win the dual meet against Alton and we were winning two matches that we ended up losing in the last 20 seconds of both matches and that was pretty heartbreaking. That was about a nine-point swing. Again, that's just us going through some growing pains. Moline was a tough team as well. They're a solid and very physical team. That's one thing our kids have to learn in a varsity match this year. You have to battle and earn the match."

Oswego opened Southwest Prairie Conference action on Wednesday at Plainfield East, but results were unavailable at press time. The Panthers host Plainfield South today, Thursday, at 5 p.m. before entering the Wheaton Warrenville South Mega Duals on Saturday where Oswego will face three opponents in the circle.

"It's different wrestling Wednesday, Thursday, but we've changed our work ethic in the room and hopefully we see some positive results," Cook said. "We have a little bit of a recoup day before we go wrestle some tough teams at Wheaton South. There's no gimmies in our schedule. We've got to battle for everything."

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