Red Devils, Hilltoppers go 7-7 in matches
By Gary Larsen
Friday night marked the end of a season of wild competition in the West Suburban Conference’s Silver Division, so it was only appropriate that Hinsdale Central and Glenbard West split 7-7 in matches won.
The Red Devils’ 33-24 win over the Hilltoppers came thanks to a 5-1 edge in bonus-point wins in Glen Ellyn.
The Red Devils improved to 4-2 in the WSS while the Hilltoppers finished 0-6 in arguably the most formidable conference, top to bottom, in Illinois this year.
“We didn’t win a single Friday night match all season but we went after it every time,” Glenbard West coach Nick Posegay said. “If nothing else I think maybe we earned a little respect from some of the other teams in the conference. It was an exciting year in the conference. Wherever you ended up on Friday night it was a lot of fun.”
For the Red Devils, Friday’s dual was their final tune-up before they compete in next week’s Naperville Central 3A regional.
“Glenbard West is definitely a good team but you have to have most of your work in by now, and we were a little flat tonight because we’ve been training hard,” Hinsdale Central coach Jason Hayes said. “We’ve been training, obviously, to get ready for the regional so next week will be hard until we taper.”
Glenbard West sophomore C.J. Sojka kicked the night off by improving to 6-0 in WSS competition, winning a 5-1 decision over the Red Devils’ sophomore Marco Del Rosario.
“My hat’s off to (Sojka). He’s been working real hard,” Posegay said. “He’s always had a pretty good turn on top but at the beginning of the year he was a little tentative with his takedown. But now it seems like he won’t let anybody stop him from taking them down.”
At 112, Central sophomore George Tolbert put forth a sustained, composed effort in a 16-6 major over West freshman Pernevelon Sheppard. “(Sheppard) looked dangerous, like he could explode for something big, but George stayed solid,” Hayes said. “He worked on the stuff we’ve been drilling and that’s what we want. We practice this stuff, now go out and hit it.”
The match at 119 was a barnburner, with Central’s Tommy Ward and West’s Eh Doh Lwei taking turns nearly pinning each other in a few wild scrambles. Lwei pinned Ward in their previous meeting but the Central sophomore posted a takedown late in Friday’s match for an 11-10 win.
“I had to watch out for the headlock,” Ward said. “And I felt like I got in pretty deep but he was able to scramble out of it. For the last takedown we got into a scramble situation and I just tried to keep my head up and stay composed. I feel good on top but in neutral I have to learn to shoot better.”
“Those matches are nerve-wracking because you might be up five or six points and all of a sudden you’re on your back,” Hayes said. “Tommy stayed tough and found a way to win that match.”
Posegay has watched Lwei surprise people all year with his athleticism and flexibility, and nobody had better overlook the dangerous senior at next week’s Glenbard North 3A regional.
“Last week (Lwei) had a little bit of an eye injury so we were going to put a mask on him and make him look even more dangerous,” Posegay joked. “He’s always ready to go and you just never know with him. He always seems to know where to put his body, where he wants to be, and where he wants to put you. He’s a lot of fun to watch.”
West sophomore Zak Hassan cut the Central lead to 7-6 with a 9-3 decision over Red Devils’ senior Matt Freyn but a tech fall by Ernest Battaglia at 130 over Holt Jones gave Central a 12-6 lead.
West junior Jack Carlson and Central sophomore Louis Skobicki tangled in a close one at 135, with Skobicki posting the first takedown of the match in the first period. Carlson reversed Skobicki near the end of the period, but a Skobicki escape in the second gave him a 3-2 lead heading into the third.
Carlson posted a reversal at the 5:30 mark to grab a 4-3 lead and added a pair of back points to win a 6-3 decision.
“Zak’s having a good year and he’s got big plans, and that was a nice turning-point match for Jack,” Posegay said. “He fought through the third period, where sometimes he loses his focus, and tonight he was ready to go.”
Carlson has also seen the improvement in his wrestling this year.
“I got taken down right away, which was kind of disappointing, but I stayed with it,” Carlson said. “I reversed him twice and I was working to pin him when the match ended.”
“When you get the first takedown you’re way more confident but I knew I had to win that match. That reversal at the end of the first was a big help. And I’ve been keeping the points down in my matches and I’m not getting turned.”
The match at 140 featured Central’s Jimmy Grimm working to get back to form after missing a month of the season due to injury. In his fifth match since returning, the junior won an 18-5 major decision over West freshman Colin Knowlton.
Grimm is shaking the rust off and is looking forward to a week of two-a-day practices to get him ready for next weekend’s Naperville Central regional.
“I feel like I’m getting back into the groove,” Grimm said. “My first few matches back I felt a little gassed but now I’m starting to get back into it. I’ll either go through two practices a day or three practices a day until the regional.
Hayes is happy to have Grimm back in his lineup.
“We have to fine-tune him and he’s got to get his lungs back,” Hayes said. “He has to fine-tune his technique and his timing, but he’s getting there. We can train him a little different this week because he’s been out. We can probably push him a little bit more.”
Central senior Terry Ward dominated his way to a tech fall win at 145 over West sophomore AJ Della Polla. Ward is now third all-time in career wins at Hinsdale Central with 130, while senior Jack Allen is second all-time with 133 wins.
Starting at 152, a quartet of Glenbard West seniors took over the next four matches. Will Stano kicked things off with an 8-1 decision win and teammate D.J. Terdy followed at 160 with a 7-4 win over Central senior Max Evers.
West’s Mitch Anderson posted a 7-2 decision at 171 before teammate Mike Summerville gave the Hilltoppers a 24-21 lead thanks to a pin at 1:51 against Central sophomore Andrew Pyle.
Seniors on Senior Night,” Posegay said, in explaining the four-match win streak his seniors gave him from 152 to 189.
“I want to keep wrestling in college, but I’ll definitely miss this,” Summerville said of his days wrestling at Glenbard West. “This was our last time wrestling under the lights. You want to go out on a good note and I think we did.”
Unfortunately for Glenbard West, the final two matches of the night included the Allen brothers. Central freshman Brian Allen received a forfeit with West junior Sam Hansel unable to wrestle, and Illinois’ top-ranked heavyweight Jack Allen stayed unbeaten and posted his 24th pin of the year in the night’s final match, against West junior Brendan Gilligan.
“One match at a time for Jack,” Hayes said. “He’s opening up more and more, getting another shot down, and now he’s got another offensive attack.”