Two victories provided some positive momentum, but the Moline wrestling team felt it learned more in its lone loss.|
Mainly, the Maroons found out how tough they can be.
Facing Machesney Park Harlem, ranked fourth in the Illinois Best Weekly Class 3A poll, in the finale of the United Township Triple Duals on Tuesday night, Moline took its lumps in a 51-15 loss. However, the Maroons exited the Panther Den with some good vibes after displaying some grit in defeat.
"We found out that we have a lot of fight," said Moline junior heavyweight Adarios Jones. "We're fighting hard."
Jones was speaking about the loss, but it described the atmosphere of Todd Thompson's debut as the Moline head coach. The Maroons opened the season with wins over Sterling (60-9) and Morton (62-10) as Thompson noticed "high amounts of effort in positions where we could've given up."
Moline took advantage of opportunities to secure bonus points in the first two duals, then limited the damage against Harlem.
A perfect example was Austin Ventris overcoming a deficit in his 145-pound bout against Harlem to secure a pin.
"We can definitely grow from tonight," Thompson said. "We obviously have things to work on, but the kids and our fans are excited. We've got something going here."
That would be a positive tone.
"The last couple years, we've been taken lightly," said Jones, who secured three victories. "We stepped up and showed Moline's back."
Geneseo, UT both go 2-1: The Geneseo Maple Leafs rebounded from a 52-7 loss against Harlem in their opener to beat United Township (57-15) and Morton (65-6).
Josiah Cropp (160 pounds) and Brandon Mizlo (182) each had three victories. Along with those efforts, Geneseo coach Jon Murray was excited about how his young team finished in its debut.
"To have our young kids see us come out there and dominate duals like that," Murray said, "it should build some confidence."
At the same time, Murray sees this team improving from its opening performance.
"We've got notes taken on lots of things we can work on," said Murray, whose team earned 35 bonus points in its last two duals. "I'm pleased, but that doesn't mean we don't have stuff to work on."
The Panthers sandwiched their loss around wins over Morton (53-18) and Sterling (45-30).
"I was happy with some of their efforts, but I wasn't happy with the way we wrestled," UT coach Lambros Fotos said. "I feel that we could have wrestled a lot better. Geneseo just kicked our butts -- they wrestled smarter, harder and better than us. We definitely have to improve, but I see a lot of potential."
Two key components to the lineup -- 113-pound junior Jeronnie Steward and 170-pound senior Markus Murphy -- each had three victories for the Panthers. Steward had two falls and earned another victory in overtime.
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