BATAVIA – Kaneland’s hopes for victory Friday rested in the hands of a wrestler who could count his varsity experience using one hand.
Freshman Hayden Patterson’s 11-2 victory in the final match of the night at 132 pounds gave the Knights (15-7) a 37-32 nonconference victory over Batavia.
“It was really hard,” Patterson said of dealing with the pressure on him. “I had to keep going and couldn’t give up. I know we were both sweating and I couldn’t even grip anything.”
Patterson found enough to grip to score a reversal and 3-point near fall in the second period to erase a 2-0 lead by Nolan Adams.
“I didn’t have much time left in that period and I knew I had to keep going,” Patterson said. “Once I took him down, I knew his hand was there and I went for it and got him on his back.”
Patterson added a pair of near falls in the third period to pick up his second victory in three varsity matches.
“He did an awesome job,” Kaneland coach Monty Jahns said. “He always goes out and gives us six minutes no matter what the situation.”
Pins by Dane Goodenough (138 pounds), Riley Vanik (145), and Tom Price (170) helped the Knights jump out to a 24-0 lead, along with decisions from George Strang (152) and Austin Parks (160).
The Bulldogs battled back using a forfeit at 220 pounds and falls from Nate Kearny (182), Noah Frazier (195), and Connor McKeehan (285) to tie the meet at 24. McKeehan moved up a weight class to take on Kaneland’s ranked super heavyweight Justin Diddell, a task he was not really relishing.
“You know, I’ve never been a huge fan of wrestling the big guys,” McKeehan said. “It’s really daunting, honestly. You just kind of look up and go, ‘Oh. Hi there. You’re a lot bigger than me.’ ”
McKeehan jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead, but Diddell regrouped and appeared to have McKeehan in trouble early in the second period, but McKeehan suddenly reversed things and put Diddell on his back.
“That moment was exemplary of my style,” McKeehan said. “I get in these weird positions and think I’m done for and I’m losing and half a second later he’s the one that’s down and out and nobody knows what happened – not even me.”
Although he may not enjoy wrestling much larger opponents, Batavia coach Scott Bayer said he doesn’t hesitate to put McKeehan in those situations.
“At this point in the season … you want to be challenged,” Bayer said. “I knew they had a big strong heavyweight. Connor’s a bull, as well. At this point in the season, you don’t want to back down from any challenge.”
Austin Kedzie put Kaneland back in front with a pin at 106, but the Bulldogs took a 32-30 lead thanks to major decisions by Mike Duranski (113) and Seth Winkle (120).
Kaneland’s Matthew Redman held off a late charge by Joe Posledni to hang on for a 12-11 victory at 126.