Knights bring enough
Kaneland forfeited three weights Thursday night, but wins in eight of the 11 weights that were contested allowed the Knights to defeat Morris 40-35 in varsity wrestling.
Among the Knight wins were five pins, which allowed Kaneland to break even with Morris, which won by fall twice, in six-point bouts. Still, the dual came down to the final bout, where Kaneland 113-pounder Stephen Gust defeated Jake Crowther of Morris by decision, 7-0.
Morris coach Jon Lanning lamented some missed senior-night opportunities after the Redskins fell to 12-8 overall and 2-4 in Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference East duals.
"It's a tough loss," Lanning said. "We were down a few guys and had a few guys out of position. We moved some guys down and some others up to try and get the most points we could. The pins we gave up really hurt us. Those bonus points made a difference."
After Morris 120-pounder Kenny Baldridge won by technical fall in 4:00 in the opening bout, the Knights took control. A 5-3 decision win by Dane Goodenough over A.J. Vota at 126 pounds, a 24-second fall victory by David Barnhart over Hunter Herman at 132 and a 12-2 major decision win by Sonny Horn over Justin Barkley at 138 made it 13-5 Kaneland.
Morris senior Drake Dryfhout answered by pinning Kegan Workman in 3:35 at 145 pounds.
"I went out knowing I needed to push back, that my team needed a pin," Dryfhout said. "I felt (the bout) changed at the beginning of the second period. He chose to be on top. I went down, and I got an escape and a reversal. Then I noticed that my butcher was working good on him, so I butchered him, and then I turned him over."
After Dryfhout closed the gap to two points for Morris, the Knights opened up their biggest lead of the match. Back-to-back pins from Dan Gorress, in 1:14 over Andrew Olsen at 152 pounds, and Austin Parks, in 3:35 over Kyle Abney at 160, made the score 25-11.
Kaneland then forfeited three consecutive weights, with Brent Johnson, Ryan Kowalczyk and Alex Hildy claiming wins at 170, 182 and 195 pounds, respectively. Nic Countryman made it a 24-point swing and a 35-25 lead for the Redskins by pinning Kaneland 220-pounder Nick Sharp in 2:53.
"It was senior night, and I wanted to get a match in. They didn't have anyone at the weights below that," Countryman, who normally wrestles lower, said. "(Sharp) was able to muscle me and get me off-balance (for a second-period reversal). So he was on top of me, but he fell to the side, and I was able to get him back on his hips and get a half in. He fought, but I was able to turn him over and got the pin."
That was the final win of the night for the Redskins. Consecutive pins from Zach Tiess, in 2:52 over Dalton Ness at 285 pounds, and Adam Mish, in 1:30 over Ian Bernard, restored the lead to the Knights, and they clinched the dual with Gust's victory.
Though Dryfhout and Countryman were the only opposed seniors that won Thursday from Morris, Lanning spoke positively about the group.
"It's a good senior class," he said. "We've had a number of first-year wrestlers that have come out and put a lot of work into a new sport. Obviously you can't ask for more than you get from Nic (Countryman). Nic and Justin (Barkley) and (Jake) Crowtherr and Drake Dryfhout have been with me all four years."
Morris has just one dual left this season, at Bolingbrook on Jan. 23. The Redskins wrestle at Lincoln-Way East's Illini Classic today and Saturday.
"We're going into our conference (Jan. 19 at Sycamore) and the state series, and our training is focused on that right now," Lanning said.