Written by: Kyle Hartwick Dec 17, 2019
Last season, the wrestling dual meet between Rock Island and Moline came down to the final match of the night. Tonight, the story wasn’t any different as the Rocks took down the Maroons 39-31.
Rock Island’s Aoci Bernard came away with a 9-3 decision over Alex Schmacht in the night’s final match. Before Bernard took the mat, Rock Island coach Joel Stockwell had a simple message for him: Get the win.
“I told him to wrestle for the win and to do his best,” Stockwell said. “But to tell the truth, as long as he didn’t get pinned or lose by technical fall, we won the dual. So we wanted him to stay off of his back as much as possible.”
Things looked dicey for Bernard in the third period as he was on his back and looking in rough shape, but he staved off a pin and got enough points to stay on top of Schmacht.
“I wanted to wrestle for the team,” Bernard said. “I knew it was close and I needed to wrestle hard. I went out there and gave it my all and had a lot of heart.”
The Rocks led 36-18 following the heavyweight match, but a tough group of Maroons in the lower weights turned the tide. Carmelo Cruz won a hard-fought 9-4 decision over Joe Ferguson in 106, Noah Tapia pinned Tyler Barbee in 1:51 at 113, and Charlie Farmer won a 12-3 major decision over Manny Limon in a battle of state qualifiers from last season.
Stockwell was happy that the team got the early points that they needed to come out on top.
“We knew that those weight classes were going to be tough matchups,” Stockwell said. “That’s why every team point mattered early on. We needed a comfortable win going into the final few matches, and it was enough to get the job done.”
The upper weight classes provided key points for the Rocks as Jaiden VanCoillie and Pharoah Gray each picked up six points with pins. VanCoille pinned Trystan Duyvejonck in 4:28 at 220 and Pharoah Gray pinned Nate Parker in 1:47 at 285.
With the victory, Rock Island improves to 3-3 in duals this season. Bernard wants to keep the momentum going for the team.
“We took a big team loss against Geneseo and felt down following that,” Bernard said. “But we kept putting in the work and started rolling through meets, and now we feel pretty good. As long as we keep working together as a team, we can keep this going.”