CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake Central wrestling coach Justen Lehr was relieved – and, quite frankly, pumped up – to have one of his seniors, Michael Locascio, compete in the last match Thursday against Crystal Lake South.
Locascio, who joined varsity this year, didn't let his coach or teammates down, holding onto a 6-4 decision against South's Zander Kitchen as the Tigers beat the Gators, 39-31, in a back-and-forth Fox Valley Conference dual at Gator Alley.
"He's a kid that's just been grinding his whole career, and he's worked hard for this moment," Lehr said. "That's a big win for him. That's a program kid, he's not a big club kid or anything like that."
The match-clinching win for Locascio at 138 pounds did not come easy. Kitchen had a hard takedown in the first period, but the Tigers senior stayed composed.
"I think we're one of the hardest-working groups in the state," Locascio said. "There aren't a lot of of teams like us, who practice as hard as us and prepare as well as us. I knew that would carry me through the second and third periods.
"I haven't been in many positions like that before, but it was awesome. Who wouldn't love it?"
The Tigers (12-6, 3-2) had four pins in the win, but none were bigger than sophomore Rocco Carone at 132 pounds.
Carone earned a pin against Souths' Aidan Kitchen to give the Tigers the lead after Christian Olsen (120) and Peyton Timmons (125) had back-to-back pins for the Gators.
Olsen's pin cut into Central's lead, 30-25, and Timmons' pin put the Gators ahead, 31-30.
Lehr pulled Carone aside before his match.
"I told him that I expect nothing less of him," Lehr said. "That's a really big win for us, because momentum is huge in high school wrestling. For them to send out Christian Olsen and Peyton Timmons, sometimes, that's enough to take the wind out of a team. Rocco went out there and switched it back in our favor."
Beating a crosstown rival made the win even sweeter, Carone said.
"It's always fun going against a crosstown rival," Carone said. "Getting the win always feels good, but you kind of get the bragging rights, too."
Also recording pins for Central were Dillon Carlson (113), Stephen Bushy (170), and Julian Ryerson (182). Brenden Parks (160) won by technical fall, Brock Montford (195) won by major decision, and Austin Ernd (152) won by decision.
Amador Castro (106) picked up a pin for South, Shane Moran (145) won by major decision, Dom Collado (285) won by decision, and Jason Burburija (220) won by forfeit after an injury to Andrew Hudec.
South (15-5, 4-2) suffered its second FVC loss.
"It hasn't been much of a rivalry the last few years; they've been absolutely stellar," Gators coach Ross Ryan said of Central. "But I think there's always something to this rivalry. You could feel something in the air. It makes it fun. I don't know if there's been too many environments like today. That was awesome."
STAR OF THE MEET
Michael Locascio, sr. 138
Locascio held on for a 6-4 decision against Crystal Lake South’s Zander Kitchen to seal the Tigers’ FVC win.
7: Combined pins by Central and South.
AND ANOTHER THING …
Crystal Lake Central is No. 5 and Crystal Lake South is No. 19 in the latest Class 2A Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association rankings.
Crystal Lake Central 39, Crystal Lake South 31
106: Castro (CLS) p. Keene, 4:54
113: Carlson (CLC) p. Sadler. 0:41
120: Olsen (CLS) p. Zamudio, 3:34
126: Timmons (CLS) p. Hopkins, 4:40
132: Carone (CLC) p. A. Kitchen, 3:31
138: Locascio (CLC) dec. Z. Kitchen, 6-4
145: Moran (CLS) maj. dec. Madura, 9-1
152: Ernd (CLC) dec. Moore, 11-5
160: Parks (CLC) tech. fall Mears, 17-2
170: Bushy (CLC) p. Weidner, 1:04
182: Ryerson (CLC) p. Marchisi, 1:52
195: Montford (CLC) maj. decision, 16-4
220: Burburija (CLS) by fft.
285: Collado (CLS) dec. Fuentes, 4-0