DeKALB – Going 1-5 over the weekend was not necessarily a bad thing for Crystal Lake South’s wrestling team, which has only one senior in its lineup.
But the manner in which the Gators dropped their final match in the 15th annual Don Flavin DeKalb Dual Wrestling Invitational on Saturday stung a little bit.
South built a sizable lead on Harlem through the lower weight classes, only to see it slip away. The Huskies took a one-point lead with a pin at 160 pounds, then the teams traded forfeits at 170 and 182, giving Harlem a 41-40 victory.
“It was a hard one to swallow,” said Gators sophomore Peyton Timmons, who was 6-0 at 113 pounds for the tournament. “I know with the guys on our team we definitely could have won that one. A lot of it was guys who got caught or didn’t wrestle smart the whole time. I know we could beat them again if we had them.”
The tournament format had four eight-team brackets Friday, with teams wrestling three times. After that, they were split into eight four-team pools for Saturday and again wrestled the other teams in their pool. South, wrestling in Pool C (seventh-place teams) lost to York, 48-27, and to Rochelle, 45-30, before the narrow loss to Harlem.
“Every single point matters, and that’s the tough [thing] to get across to the team in general,” Gators coach Ross Ryan said. “Whether it’s stopping a pin, stopping a tech fall, getting a major [decision] or a tech fall or a pin. Every single one of those points comes into play. Unfortunately, for the kids, they don’t see that until the end when it’s too late. From my position, you’re sitting there playing it in your head all the time.”
Timmons, a sophomore, and 106-pounder Christian Olsen, a freshman, led the way for the Gators, each going 6-0 for the tournament.
“It was a good effort,” said Olsen, who is 28-0. “I just take all these wins, and it is a learning experience. Now, I know what I need to work on, take that and look into the weeks going ahead. A record’s just a number. It’s a good feeling, but it really matters in regionals, sectionals and state.”
South was unable to cover three weight classes for the tournament, but Ryan sees potential with his lineup, where 152-pounder Cameron DeLeon is the lone senior.
“We have some talented, quality young guys trying to develop leadership,” Ryan said. “At the same time, we’re trying to iron out some of the tendencies on the mat, the technique, that gets us in trouble. Growth’s occurring. The biggest thing we’re lacking right now is just pure grit, that want to push through adversity rather than bow down to it.”
With Olsen and Timmons (27-2), the Gators are tough in the lower weight classes.
“Depending on where we start [in weight] in a dual, if we start with the upper weights, like 182 or 195, we can get on a roll with Jimmy Moore (195), Jason Burburija (220) and Alec Natrop (285), then we get into Olsen and Timmons. Alex Picchi (126) has done real well.”
Hampshire and Johnsburg wrestled in Pool D (eighth-place teams) on Saturday. Hampshire finished third, and Johnsburg was fourth in that pool.