SYCAMORE – The Kaneland wrestling team is built for tournaments.
With holes at several weight classes, the Knights don't match up well in dual meets. But with several elite wrestlers, Kaneland thrives in meets such as Saturday's Northern Illinois Big 12 championship.
After winning just two conference dual meets this season, the Knights tied for fourth with DeKalb on Saturday behind Dan Goress' 145-pound title and second-place finishes from Connor Williams (120) Esai Ponce (132) and Zach Theis (285).
“We have so many good, talented individuals that we come together in tournaments, we do well,” Goress said. “The atmosphere in the room the last couple of weeks has been really good because of the tournaments. This is the time to meet [individual goals] with regional, sectional, state coming around. Everyone is working really hard. It's a positive attitude out there. Everyone's on a roll.”
In some ways, having a small team of elite wrestlers isn't a bad thing, because the top Knights are motivated by wrestling alongside each other every day.
“The leaders in the room, the senior leaders that we've got, we feed off of each other,” Goress said. “You work harder to motivate them. We don't talk, we just work.”
Goress beat Sycamore's Dylan Foster in the final by major decision to notch Kaneland's only individual championship of the day.
St. Charles North 77, Larkin 36: At Elgin, North (6-15, 3-6 UEC River) rolled on the road to snap a three-game skid. Alex Silverman (16 points) paced the North Stars, who led, 48-12, at halftime. Morgan Rosencrants (14), Sam Novak (11) and Nicole Davidson (10) also finished in double figures.
LaSalle-Peru 49, Kaneland 47: At Maple Park, Ashley Prost scored 19 points and Allyson O'Herron had 12 but the Knights (12-9) dropped the Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover after being outscored, 19-14, in the final quarter. Emma Bradford added nine points, six rebounds and five steals for Kaneland.
Kaneland 34, LaSalle-Peru 32: At LaSalle, Matt Limbrunner scored 14 points and John Pruett added 12 as Kaneland (10-6) prevailed in the low-scoring NI Big 12 crossover.
Wheaton Academy 82, Aurora Christian 59: At West Chicago, Wheaton Academy drained 16 3-pointers, four each from Collin Roy and Gordon Behr, to bury Aurora Christian. The Warriors (13-5, 5-1 Suburban Christian Conference Blue) were led by Roy's 22 points. Aurora Christian (9-9, 0-6) was led by Zach Singer (14 points) and Ryan Suttle (13).
East's Garza advances to state meet: At Habetler Bowl in Chicago, St. Charles East senior Alex Garza registered a 1,120 total pinfall over six games, finishing fourth in the St. Patrick Sectional to advance to next weekend's state meet at downstate St. Clair Bowl as an individual.
East narrowly missed a team berth to state, as its third-place pinfall of 5,299 was five pins shy of second-place St. Patrick. The Saints led through the first four games before sectional champ Lake Park took a 40-pin advantage entering the final game. East still had a 10-pin cushion on the host Shamrocks at that point, but fell short down the stretch.
"We had a really great year. I feel for those other four seniors we had on the team that their bowling season is now done," Saints coach Steve Dessauer said. "But we're all there to root on Alex, so hopefully we can have the individual state champion. That's what we're looking at now."
Garza is the first Saint to advance to state since CJ Logue in 2010.
Geneva (fifth, 4,996) and St. Charles North (sixth, 4,954) also competed at Saturday's 15-team tournament.
Geneva's Kyle Kallhauge and North's Isaac Marshall both rolled 1,067 series to merit consideration as possible at-large berths, a field that will be determined after all sectional scores statewide are analyzed.
North second at own invite: At St. Charles, runner-up North (206 points) challenged Barrington (252) for the overall title in the eight-team event. The North Stars' highlights included David Chokran's title in the 100-yard breaststroke and a second-place effort from the 400 freestyle relay of Nick Kowaleski, Kevin Leavy, Spencer Gray and Kyle Gannon.
• Anthony Zilis contributed to this report.