Morris wrestlers making progress
For the Morris wrestling team, that's a best-case scenario six meets into the dual season, and just 10 days since the football players joined the team.
On Thursday, the Redskins got their first Northern Illinois Big 12 East win of the season by beating Rochelle 46-24. The locals then turned around and lost to a Bourbonnais team, 53-14, that is currently 10-1 on the season.
"Bradley's got a lot of matches in. They also have a very good team," Morris coach Jon Lanning said. "Tonight was a situation where they were missing a match and we were missing a match. It's good to wrestle a good, tough program. They just got the best of us this year."
Morris is still working through conditioning at this point, and nobody knows that better than Nik Countryman. The linebacker made his season debut last night in Crete Monee, splitting a pair of decisions there. He beat Dexter Fierro of Wilmington by fall in 1:55 but lost to Crete's Joe Peacock 6-5.
"Nik has got to keep working on his conditioning," Lanning said. "He certified at 182 tonight, but we bumped him up and he felt better. He looked better than last night."
Wrestling at 195, Countryman was one of two Morris wrestlers on Thursday to come away with two wins. He defeated Rochelle's Tyler Voegler by fall in 2:27 and Bradley's Joe Page by a 7-3 score. The other wrestler to win two on Thursday was Kenny Baldridge. He beat Rochelle's Jacob Seldal by a technical fall, 18-3, and Bradley's Jimmy Knapp by a tech fall (20-5).
"We're starting to get into shape. Nik looked to be in better shape tonight. We're going to keep getting better. I can see that we're starting to progress," Baldridge said.
Countryman said that getting the two wins on Thursday shows progress.
"I'm not in wrestling shape. Coming off football like that is kind of tough," he admitted.
Against Rochelle, the Redskins opened with a win by fall by Trevor Allbert (2:27), two forfeits wins and Countryman's pin to lead 24-0. That lead then grew to 30-0 when Dalton Ness won by fall in 26 seconds. Morris' next win came from Baldridge and Justin Barkley's 19-3 technical fall win over Wes Meadows made it 40-18 to clinch the win.
Cody Decker got the final win of the match for Morris when he won by fall over Elwood Cook in 3:20.
"It was a nice start to the night. It's one we were expected to win," Lanning said. "The kids took care of business there. You take every win you can get. Our conditioning is getting better. We're getting there."
Against Bradley, things were tough from the start for Morris. In addition to Countryman and Baldridge, only Nick Lerma won, by fall in 24 seconds over Cody Osborne, for the Redskins.
Despite watching the team get shut down by the Boilers, Countryman said that he is feeling positive about where the team is heading.
"It was nice to get the win," he said. "The big thing is that we have to get more guys on the team on the mat. We've got pretty much everyone back from last year and it's nice to give it another try."
Lanning said that a 3-3 overall and a 1-1 conference record is truly acceptable under the circumstances.
"It's exactly where we want to be. Really the program is where we want it to be," he said. "The key is staying around .500 through the Christmas break. We have four more duals and two tournaments before then."
On Wednesday in Crete, the Redskins beat Monee 39-28 and lost to Wilmington 43-26.
Ian Bernard at 106 was a double winner for the Redskins after receiving two forfeits, Baldridge was a double winner, winning by fall in 3:30 against Crete and a 19-3 technical fall over Wilmington, Barkley was a double winner getting two falls, Allbert won twice by getting a fall and winning 7-1. Also on Wednesday, A.J. Vota won by forfeit and had a 6-4 decision.