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O’Brien’s debut a highlight in Geneva wrestling team's win

GENEVA – St. Charles North starts seven freshmen or sophomores on its wrestling team, a healthy figure that would be smaller without a pair of offseason transfers in the lower weights.

At one time, juniors Jordan Scalice and Thomas O’Brien were North Stars with growing Upstate Eight Conference River Division credentials. Then one headed for Wisconsin, the state with Lake Geneva, while the other picked the Geneva along the Fox River.

O’Brien’s 132-pound debut bout with the Vikings offered an early highlight during Geneva’s 48-16 dual win over the North Stars on Friday. In his first action since his transfer ineligibility expired, O’Brien pulled away from a tight start and defeated Eric Conrad by fall in 4:48. Make O’Brien 1-0 in his new blue.

“I was just kind of looking for openings and everything. Being the first match of the season, I was a little bit nervous before,” O’Brien said. “I just started trying to wrestle my way, my style, and control the match, and it ended up turning out my way when I got that arm.”

Geneva (3-2 UEC River) notched six falls overall, with heavyweight Jake Anderson’s 56-second pin of Zack Greiter coming as the quickest.

North, which finished the conference duals season at 2-4, pulled within 21-16 with sophomore Ethan Fredericks’ first varsity victory, a 10-4 decision against Kyle Munsayac at 152.

In the next bout, 160-pounder Alex Kunkel opened a Vikings run of three falls in five matches, putting the result out of reach.

“North, they fought and they battled at the lower weights,” Kunkel said. “When it kind of hit me, I knew that the rest of our lineup was real strong and that we could get the job done.”

North Stars coach Pete McNamara said “that’s as well as we’ve wrestled in some spots all year.” Still working through injuries, illnesses and ineligibility, North enjoyed arguably its biggest breakthrough with Fredericks, who was competing as a 138-pounder with the JV before Friday.

When regular 152-pounder Mike Moungros learned his family would be moving to Florida at the end of the year, McNamara looked to Fredericks to step up. On Friday, he did, withstanding a late Munsayac charge after taking a 6-0 lead into the final period.

“I shook Mike’s hand today at noon. He was our 52, and he was a legit 52,” McNamara said. “We’ll miss him, but the good Lord smiles on you in a lot of ways. That little man went out there. Next year, he’ll be a full-blown 45 or 52.”

A major decision from Conrad Noverini at 113 and Anthony Perrilli’s decision at 120 staked North to an early 7-3 lead.

Wrestling up one weight class, senior Brad Martens gave the Vikings the lead for good with a 1:14 fall at 126. That brought up O’Brien, who said he transferred due to a family issue. O’Brien was an all-UEC River selection as a freshman 125-pounder before missing most of last season with injuries.

“I wish him all the luck in the world,” McNamara said. “Don’t hold any ill will. Life’s way too short to worry about little things like that. He’s a fine wrestler.”

The North Stars’ Kevin Deisher followed O’Brien with the visitors’ lone fall of the dual at 138. Deisher was controlling Mike Huck, 11-2, when he got the pin with 53 seconds remaining in the third period.

The Vikings’ flurry to close the dual included a decision win from senior Jake Boser, whose move from 195 to 182 is one of a handful of ongoing lineup developments for the team.

“I thought we’ve wrestled pretty good. We’ve had some tough outcomes with kids being injured and not eligible, but I feel like we’ve wrestled well,” Kunkel said.

On Friday, O’Brien added to that assertion. Even though they might have missed him, the North Stars sensed more confidence, too.

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