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Young grapplers shine at Geneva Invite : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Young grapplers shine at Geneva Invite
Okayama, Elfstrum enjoy winning weeks in the circle

by Kristin Sharp


Mistakes are bound to happen on the mat when you have young, inexperienced varsity wrestlers in the circle, but Oswego East head wrestling coach Mike Jezioro would like to see those minimized in the upcoming weeks.

Oswego East entered its final tournament of the season last Saturday at Geneva's 35th annual Newbill Invitational and had a strong opening round before settling into 14th place overall with seven placewinners.

That tournament finish came on the heels of a 1-1 finish in Southwest Prairie Conference dual action, with a 39-33 win over Romeoville and a 56-12 loss to Plainfield Central. Oswego East is now 10-13 overall and 2-3 in the SPC.

"It's always nice to win a conference dual," Jezioro said. "We didn't wrestle our best and Romeoville was in the same situation with two days not practicing because of the school closures. We were off before that as well before break, so we were rusty. It's still good to come out of there with the win and guys did some good things. You could tell we hadn't been on the mat in awhile though."

Against Romeoville last Thursday, freshman Andrew Okayama pinned his 138-pound opponent in 1:54 while senior Mason Miller won by pin at 145, ending his bout in 2:44.

Freshman Kendall Elfstrum also pinned his 170-pound opponent in 2:52 and junior Ryan Ingalls won by fall in 1:37 for the win at 220. Senior Steve McMahon won a 4-3 decision at heavyweight.

Oswego East faced Plainfield Central on Friday and the No. 18 Wildcats handed the Wolves a lopsided score with just three winners in the circle. Okayama won a 9-6 decision, Elfstrum won by fall in 1:44 and Ingalls won a 9-2 decision for the Wolves.

"Plainfield Central is a good program and I'm a little disappointed with how we wrestled. I would have liked to see a couple matches closer than what happened," Jezioro said. "They took it to us and unfortunately some of the guys didn't respond and we lost a couple that maybe we shouldn't have lost by a pin. They caught us in some bad situations. When you wrestle a good team and you don't wrestle your best, it's going to show on the scoreboard."

Last Saturday in Geneva, Alton won the 16-team tournament with 152.5 points, finishing ahead of runner-up Dundee-Crown (129.5) and Geneva (125).

"We only brought 10 that day - we lost Jason Fountain to an injury and Anthony Bryson was hurt against Plainfield Central. We were a little light going in," Jezioro said. "I like going to Geneva because we see a lot of teams that we don't normally see and won't see until the state tournament. It's nice to see a different mix of teams. We had a real good first round and I was happy to see our guys were ready to wrestle.

"As the day went on, and wrestling Thursday, Friday and Saturday, it started to take its toll. We lost a few matches based on mistakes and put ourselves in bad situations. It's things to learn from. We had some guys take medals, so that was nice to see and it was our last tournament before the conference tournament. Hopefully we can fix some things in the tournament situation so when we get into regionals, we're ready to go."

For Oswego East, Okayama had the highest finish on the day as he placed third at 138. He pinned Lincoln-Way North in 2:13 to start the bracket before winning a 5-2 decision over Carmel. He dropped a 1-0 decision to No. 8-ranked Phyllip DeLoach in the semifinals to move into the third-place match. He won a 1-0 decision over Rockford Boylan.

Elfstrum placed fourth at 170, starting the day with a 9-8 overtime win over Fenton before dropping a 4-3 decision to Alton's Quentin Lawrence in the semifinals. Lawrence went on to win the championship and Elfstrum lost a 2-0 decision in the finals.

"(Okayama's) having a real good season being a freshman in the lineup, and the kid he lost to from Alton was ranked sixth in the state," Jezioro said. "He has all the ability in the world. Right now it's a matter of him being a freshman and him believing in himself that he can win those matches. We've got a young 14-year old boy trying to teach him to grow up real quick and believe he can.

"Same thing with Kendall at 170; he's wrestling a man's weight and he sees a lot of big juniors and seniors who have been in the game for awhile. Kendall really only has one year of wrestling experience before this year so he's learning a lot as he goes. He lost his third place match 2-0, and it's a learning thing," Jezioro continued.

At 220, Ingalls placed fourth overall. He pinned his Harvard opponent in 3:54 to start, but lost by pinfall to Dundee-Crown in the next round. In the finals, he dropped a 3-1 decision to Geneva.

Miller placed fifth at 145, opening his bracket with a win by pin at 1:59 but lost by major decision to Alton to move into the wrestlebacks. He won a 3-1 decision over Dundee-Crown and won an 8-2 decision over Geneva in the finals.

At 160, senior CeCe Schaefer placed sixth. He won a 7-4 decision in the opening round against Stillman Valley, but was pinned by eventual champion Joe Robinson of Oak Lawn. In the wrestlebacks, Schaefer won a 5-1 decision over Marian Central, but lost a 5-2 decision in the finals against Lincoln-Way North.

Senior Joey Torres placed sixth at 195 by injury default. He started the day with a 4-3 loss to West Chicago, but bounced back with a 4-1 win over Fenton to reach the finals.

Senior Steve McMahon placed fifth at 285. He won a 2-1 overtime decision against Stillman Valley, but was pinned by Dundee-Crown to move into the wrestlebacks. He won a 5-0 decision against West Chicago, and pulled out a 5-2 win in overtime against Geneva in the finals.

Oswego East will host Plainfield South today, Thursday, at 6 p.m. before entering the Wheaton Warrenville South Quad on Saturday at 9 a.m.

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