MAPLE PARK – Win or lose, home team wrestlers routinely scurry to roll up the mats at the end of each dual.
The act felt partially like penance for Kaneland athletes Thursday night. While DeKalb coach Mike Pater admitted “you’re never really comfortable wrestling Kaneland because they’re always coming at you pretty hard,” the compliment was far from enough salve for the Barbs’ 44-18 win.
“Usually we’re pounding more and going at them a little, but tonight we were kind of slacking some,” Knights’ senior 138-pounder Dane Goodenough said. “We are a team that will keep going, keep driving, and we won’t stop. And we will, at the end of the year, if we were to face DeKalb again, we will win. We will beat them by driving.”
DeKalb remained unbeaten in Northern Illinois Big 12 East duals with its second victory in as many matches.
Being aggressive against the Knights (1-1 NI Big 12 East) went a long way in a key early swing.
Competing against Jacob Shearer at 120, the Barbs’ Brendan McGee pounced for a technical fall, attacking throughout to gain a 17-2 advantage after 4:15. Two bouts later, at 132, DeKalb’s Nick Roach recovered from an early slip to earn the quickest fall of the night.
With the Knights’ Luke Eggenberger sprawling to create offense, Roach found his footing at an opportune time and put Eggenberger on his back in 30 seconds. Leif Williams added a fall at 182 later on, but Pater was hoping for a sharper instinct from his team in between.
Why settle for a decision when you can work for a major decision, the thinking goes.
“We’ve got to hustle and score some takedowns on the edge and find ways to get some back points when there’s not a lot of time on the clock,” Pater said. “Those are some of the things that we’ve got to work on a little bit.”
Kaneland snapped a lengthy slump Dec. 5 against Sycamore, earning a 33-29 victory for its first win in the series since 2006.
The Knights’ bid to continue the retribution theme fell short a week later. DeKalb has defeated Kaneland in the past six meetings – each year of coach Monty Jahns’ tenure.
“We didn’t come out fired up, in my opinion,” Jahns said. “You’ve got to come out fired up for DeKalb at home.”
Nick Mish temporarily ignited the Knights at 106. With Barbs counterpart Alex Ireck starting to seize control with a near-fall to close the second period, Mish again looked to be in peril to start the third.
With Ireck maneuvering to get control of Mish’s waist, Mish slipped through a devastating hold that Jahns couldn’t name. That still didn’t keep him from working on defending it with Mish this week.
The result: A Mish fall in 4:54 that pulled the Knights to within 9-6.
“I didn’t want to stop. I just wanted to keep going,” Mish said. “We were down 9-0 and we had to get something.”
Kaneland 170-pounder Tom Price recorded Kaneland’s other win with a fall of his own in the third-to-last match of the dual. By virtue of the way it happened, Mish’s still stood out most to Jahns as the gym began to clear – spectators, mats and all.
“It’s not my preferred way to get it,” Jahns said, “but we’ll take it because he never gave up.”