By John Bumbales – Daily Herald Correspondent
The 55th Annual Rus Erb wrestling tournament turned out to be a real dogfight Saturday afternoon at Glenbrook South.
Oswego took a narrow lead over Sycamore and Hersey heading into the final round of the historic tourney with the host Titans still in the mix for a top-three finish.
And with a scrappy effort, the Panthers did manage to hold off Sycamore by a 182 to 174.5 margin to take home the first-place trophy on the pre-Christmas weekend.
Glenbrook South barely edged Hersey 141 to 140 in a tough battle for the third place hardware while Lake Park (123 points) placed fifth.
Hersey’s push for fourth place was led by 285-pound champion Austin Korba, and a second-place finish from Vinny Lazzara at 126. The Huskies got thirds from Zach Joyce at 132, and Daniel Mukhamedalyev at 160.
“We just talked to the kids about learning how to close a tournament, and we’ve been in some tough tournaments,” said Hersey coach Joe Rupslauk. “All we’re trying to do is build to win a regional eventually. The kids are really excited to be here, and we’re on the way.”
Lake Park’s solid effort was started by Dominik Mallinder (13-1), who got a pin with just three seconds left in the second period to take home the 126-pound crown for the Lancers, who had a total of four wrestlers in the final round.
“I just kind of wanted to finish the match off,” said Mallinder following the late-period pin. “I want to place at state, I just need to go on a healthy diet and keep wrestling well.”
Besides Mallinder, Lake Park also got second-place medals from Joey Olalde at 138, and Ryan Riser at 152. Victor Rodriguez placed third for the Lancers at 220.
“He (Mallinder) is only a sophomore, he’s really been putting in a lot of work, and it’s made a big difference with his wrestling this season,” said Lake Park coach Mark Cameron. “It’s a pretty good tournament, we’re still not where we want to be, and we had two starters who were not able to be here today due to injuries.”
Batavia’s troops were led by second-place finishes from freshman Cael Andrews (14-3) at 113 and teammate Alex Richards at 220. The Bulldogs also got thirds from Kaden Fetterolf (106), Riley Woods (138), and Jack Brozny (160).
“He (Andrews) is wrestling pretty well overall, and I think he’s just starting to learn what he is potential-wise,” said Batavia coach Scott Bayer. “I feel like Riley Woods could have gotten to the finals, and we’re a really young team this year so we’re trying to find our competitive footing.”
Buffalo Grove 220-pounder Gio Jackson (20-0) remained unbeaten with a 10-5 decision over Richards in the finals. The Bison also got a title from Alejandro Mejia, who won a narrow 4-3 decision over Riser.
“He (Jackson) remained undefeated, he’s doing what he needs to do, and he’s sticking with his plan,” said Buffalo Grove coach Kurt Kutska. “Alejandro has had a really good season, he’s wrestling with a lot of confidence, and he got certified at 145 (Friday).”
Wauconda sophomore Colin Husko rolled to the 132-pound title with a pin over St. Patrick’s Delano Walker while teammate Jack Sullivan took second at 120.
“That was the same kid (Walker) who beat my brother at the Antioch sectional so I came out hungry, and I knew who this kid was,” said Husko, who is ranked 10th in Class 2A. “I’m looking forward to state, it’s not guaranteed, and I just have to keep working towards my goal and see what happens.”ADVERTISING
Carmel Catholic’s Yovaniel Garcia got a pin for the 182-pound title while Round Lake’s Ender Kongkaeow placed second at 145. Carmel’s Vince Swindell placed third at 145.
“He (Garcia) is just wrestling well, he wrestled some tough matches here, and he’s a tough competitor,” said Carmell coach Bob Kuykendall. “We brought six guys to the tournament so we’re just waiting for guys to get healthy and get back on the mat.”