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Tough Saturday : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Tough Saturday
Oswego wrestlers net two SPC champions and place fifth, Wolves settle into sixth

by Kristin Sharp


The Southwest Prairie Conference meet was a tough go for area wrestlers, with Oswego and Oswego East settling into the middle of the pack last Saturday in Oswego.

Plainfield South clinched the title with seven wrestlers in the finals to score a grand total of 158 points. Plainfield Central placed second with 148.5 points while Minooka rounded out the top three at 128 points and Plainfield East was fourth at 126.5.

Oswego placed fifth overall with two individual champions and nine total placewinners for 112.5 points, and Oswego East was fifth with four placewinners and 60 points.

Although Oswego had previously finished 3-4 in SPC dual meets, the Panthers were at one point tied with Minooka and holding on to third place until the final round.

"We should have finished higher, but we went 2-7 in the final round," Oswego head coach Andrew Cook said. "We went 0-5 in the third-place matches, and that's not going to get you to sectionals next week. We talked about our focus and now we get a full week to practice."

Oswego East's finish is indicative of its 2-5 finish in the SPC dual season, with wins over Plainfield North and Romeoville, which finished seventh and eighth, respectively.

"I think probably the team race is about where we'd finish. I thought we'd have a few more points and finish closer to Oswego, but based on how we saw everyone this year and what kind of teams they had, I figured sixth was where we'd end up," Oswego East head coach Mike Jezioro said. "I think we started the day off well. Mason Miller avenged a loss he had earlier against Kushtrim from Oswego in the first round, so that was big. I think it gets tough wrestling the same guys so many times during the year. The scores get tighter and scores get reversed the other way where we beat them the first time and they beat us the second time. You see a Minooka kid you just saw last week. That part of it is tough. Overall we would have liked to have done better, but the conference tournament is done and all we can do is look forward to regionals. Now it matters what you do on Saturday."

Oswego and Oswego East shared a mat once in the championship finals, with Oswego senior Nick Aguirre (32-4) taking on Oswego East freshman Andrew Okayama (26-8) in the 138-pound title match. Aguirre, the top seed, reached the finals by virtue of his pinfall over Romeoville's Gio Dekire in 1:30 and a 10-3 decision over Plainfield Central's Clayton Ledbetter in the semifinals. Okayama won a 5-0 decision over Plainfield East's Abanob Bebawy and won a 9-0 decision over Minooka's Nate Vaught to face Aguirre in a rematch from a Dec. 12 dual.

"The Plainfield East and Minooka kids are both good wrestlers and to hold them to zero points, we were happy, especially with the second one because he beat that kid 1-0 last time," Jezioro said of Okayama. "In the finals match, Aguirre is a good wrestler. He knows how to win those championship matches. For Andrew, it's just about getting him to believe in himself and learn how to win those tight matches. It's good to get him there as a freshman and now it's time to learn from that and do better next week."

Aguirre put himself on the scoreboard with a first period takedown, and scored on a reversal in the second period for a 4-0 lead. Okayama scored on an escape in the third period, but Aguirre advanced his lead with a takedown for the eventual 6-2 victory.

In order to combat the falling snow outside, two championship mats were used at the same time.

On the adjacent mat from his Oswego teammate, senior Nick Schultz (18-4) battled for the 132-pound championship. Schultz, the No. 1 seed, pinned Romeoville's Alex Garza in 5:12 to open the bracket before winning a 6-2 decision over Minooka's Shane Mart in the semifinals.

In the finals, Schultz faced Plainfield Central's Jared Elingwood and won a 4-0 decision for the title.

"Both Schultz and Aguirre had real nice days," Cook said. "They were real consistent, active and wanted to go out and score some points and wrestle tough. This is where you want to be wrestling your best."

At 106, Oswego freshman Luke Pradel placed fourth overall. He won a 6-5 decision over Romeoville, but lost to Plainfield North by major decision to move into the wrestlebacks. He won a 4-3 decision over Plainfield South, but lost by pinfall to Minooka in the finals.

At 113, Oswego junior Andrew McFall (29-5) placed second overall. He won a 10-1 major decision over Minooka in the semifinals to set up a rematch with Plainfield South's Miguel Silva, but lost a 9-4 decision.

At 120, Oswego sophomore Blake Huffmon placed fourth overall. He won a 5-2 decision over Minooka, but moved into the wrestlebacks with a loss to Plainfield Central. Huffmon won over Oswego East's Tavares Carrington by tech fall in 5:39, but lost a 9-3 decision to Plainfield South in the finals.

Oswego junior Jack Pradel (26-7) placed second at 126. He pinned Plainfield South in 3:56 before winning 5-2 over Minooka in the semifinals, but lost a 3-1 decision to Plainfield Central's Nick Nasenbeny in the finals.

At 145, Oswego East senior Mason Miller finished 1-2 with a 6-4 overtime win against Oswego's Kushtrim Balazi. At 152, Oswego sophomore Victor Aguirre placed fourth, battling back from a first-round loss to Oswego East's BJ Hill by a 3-0 decision. Victor Aguirre won a 5-3 decision over Plainfield Central, but lost to Plainfield East by a 9-4 decision in the finals.

At 160, Oswego East sophomore Jordan Watson went 1-2, winning his first round bout over Plainfield North by a 10-4 decision. Oswego East freshman Kendall Elfstrum went 1-2 at 170 with a wrestleback pinfall over Plainfield East.

Oswego East junior Dan Moran and Oswego junior Arian Osmani met in the third-place bout at 195. Moran had earlier pinned Minooka in 3:10, but lost in the semifinals to Plainfield South. He pinned Plainfield East to face Osmani in the circle. Meanwhile, Osmani won a 1-0 decision over Plainfield East, but lost in the semifinals to the eventual champion from Plainfield Central. Osmani won a 7-4 decision over Minooka before pinning Moran in 1:59 for the win.

"I think Dan probably wishes he would have had his semifinal match back against Plainfield South because we were winning 6-2 at the time when we got pinned," Jezioro said."He got caught in a position that he's not comfortable in, but at this time of year you have to force positions that you're comfortable in and not let someone else dictate the match. It was nice to see him bounce back to take two pins."

At 220, Oswego East junior Ryan Ingalls (22-13) battled his way to the championship bout, winning a 7-3 decision over Oswego junior CJ Brown (23-12) but was pinned by Plainfield East in the finals. Brown went on to pin Plainfield Central in the wrestlebacks, but lost a 10-9 decision to Plainfield South in the third-place match to finish fourth.

"CJ Brown is a good wrestler from Oswego," Jezioro said. "Ryan got into the finals, and took a little bit of a break against Plainfield East."

At 285, Oswego East senior Steve McMahon placed fourth overall. He won a 2-1 decision over Minooka to start, but lost by major decision to the eventual champion from Plainfield North. McMahon moved into the wrestlebacks where he won a 1-0 decision over Oswego senior Blake Patton, but lost by pinfall to Plainfield Central. Patton went 1-2 in the bracket with a wrestleback pin over Plainfield East.

"Steve gutted it out and got some stitches after he was all done. He got cut in the Plainfield Central match pretty good, but he was able to keep it together and take fourth," Jezioro said. "It was a gutsy performance out of him."

Oswego and Oswego East will now enter the Class 3A Bolingbrook Regional with four other SPC teams - Romeoville, Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Plainfield Central - in addition to Bolingbrook, Neuqua Valley and Yorkville. Sectional qualifiers advance to the Normal West Sectional Feb. 14-15.

"The biggest thing we talked about is that some of the guys who took losses that maybe shouldn't have, they need to forget about it and move on," Jezioro said. "It doesn't matter what happened before; it matters what happens now."

"It's a tough regional," Cook said. "The regional will be won on the third and fourth-place matches and what happens in the wrestlebacks. Everyone is going to be consistent. Every team is going to have a couple champs and seconds, and it's all going to be won and lost in that wrestleback and where you get the bonus points."

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