GALESBURG -- Already knowing it could be a runner-up at best, the Moline wrestling team still displayed grit on Saturday afternoon.|
Make that championship-worthy grit.
Two wins provided the Maroons with that feeling, allowing them to seal a second-place finish in the Western Big 6 Conference for the third consecutive season. Moline toppled Galesburg (58-54) and Quincy (38-32) at John Thiel Gymnasium with performances that could leave a lasting impression as regionals loom in a week.
"It was a perfect way to end" the regular season, Moline coach Todd Thompson said. "Our fans were back and excited. Kids had to grind matches. That's what it's going to take when it comes to regionals and sectionals."
More importantly, that passion and energy is what it's going to take to get Moline back atop its Big 6 perch.
"I'm very proud of the team," Moline 285-pound junior Adarios Jones said. "I'm happy with where we are. We've made a lot of improvements."
In closing the league slate with four consecutive wins, the Maroons needed a comeback to thwart Quincy's upset bid. With two bouts left, the Blue Devils held a 32-26 lead with the 220- and 285-pound matches ahead.
Eddie Perez tied the dual with a first-period pin, setting up Jones in the finale. Less than two minutes later, Jones had a pin and Moline had a perfect ending to the regular season.
"Everyone busted butts today," Jones said.
Freshman Daniel Terronez earned two wins at 145 pounds, but Thompson was impressed with seniors Christian Smith (126 pounds) and Alex Hillyer (160) getting a pair of victories.
"Our upperclassmen wrestled very well," Thompson said. "They really stepped up to the plate."
Overall, the Maroons received wins from 15 wrestlers on the day. Not a bad way to enter the Class 3A Joliet Central Regional.
"Overall, we are in a good position to represent ourselves well at regionals," Thompson said. "We had some kids who faded away step up today. They have that confidence to do some damage."
UT splits: After opening the day with a 56-23 loss against Quincy, United Township ended the regular season with a 46-21 victory over Galesburg.
Jeronnie Steward (113/120 pounds) and Tanner Schuldt (152) capped perfect league runs with a pair of victories. Steward won by technical fall and major decision, meaning four of his five conference wins featured bonus points. Schuldt won each bout by fall.
"Most of our kids are ready for the postseason," UT coach Lambros Fotos said. "That's what we're looking forward to."
Also earning two victories were Deryck Wessels (160) and Travis Miller (220).
The Panthers open postseason next Saturday at the Class 2A Rock Island Regional.
"It's all about showing up at the right time," Fotos said. "If they do that, they're good enough to beat anybody. If they show up, they will do great things. That's what we want."
Big 6 wrestling standings
Rock Island 5-0
Moline 58, Galesburg 14
Quincy 56, UTHS 23
Moline 38, Quincy 32
UTHS 46, Galesburg 21
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