by Mike Slodki
With the way Kaneland High School wrestling began the regular season, conventional wisdom would dictate that it would perform better in Saturdayâ€™s 34th Sycamore Invite than last year.
That line of thinking proved to be a winner.
Out of 17 teams present in Sycamoreâ€™s gym, the Knights finished sixth with 110 points as a team. It beats last yearâ€™s 13th place finish out of 16 teams (49.5) points.
While last year featured no top-three finishes, the Knights brought four of them out of Spartanland. Nick Michels took second place in the 171-pound category.
Jimmy Boyle (285), Devon Scholl (125) and Esai Ponce (103) all came away with third place finishes.
With the vastly improved finish, coach Monty Jahns didnâ€™t put the reason soley at one more yearâ€™s experience for the squad, or the aggressiveness he wants Kaneland grapplers to employ.
â€œIt’s a little of both,â€ Jahns said. â€œThe technical skills they have gained over the last year is evident in the practice room and in competition. The coaches stress basic fundamental wrestling combined with high reps and an aggressive attack. When you have wrestlers willing to give the effort and buy into our coaching strategy, it makes coaching much easier and fun.
Lockport took the invite, as it did in 2009, with 193.5 points. Host Sycamore took second with 173 points and Grant had 158.5 for third place.
For the Knights, Michels went 3-1 on the day which began with a 4-minute, 26-second pinfall against Jacobsâ€™ Kyle Cook.
Michels then beat Downers Grove Southâ€™s Adam Oakes with an 8-0 major decision. Michels then beat Molineâ€™s Peter Mickiewicz with a 6-1 decision before losing to Lockportâ€™s Matt Andre in the final, 6-2.
In the 285-pound grouping, Boyle pinned Crystal Lake Southâ€™s Sam McCole in 2:17 and then took a major decision over Genoa-Kingstonâ€™s Skyler Petracosta, 11-0. Moving to the semis, Boyle was defeated in a 3-2 squeaker by Molineâ€™s Jeremy Howell. Boyle then clinched third place with a 9-1 major decision over Hononegahâ€™s Max Geyer.
Schollâ€™s day started with a pin in 3:12 over Downers Grove Southâ€™s Travis Hill. Scholl then beat Harlemâ€™s Mitchel Kennington 8-2. Lockportâ€™s Jameson Oser of Lockport got the best of Scholl with a pin in 3:30 in the semis before the Kaneland asset won a 7-2 decision in the third place match over Sycamoreâ€™s Jeff Flanigan.
Ponce began his day with a 5-2 victory over Downers Grove Southâ€™s Frank Wenmouth, and then moved on to a 7-0 win over Harlemâ€™s Jordan Northrup. The Kaneland grappler lost a 3-0 matchup with Crystal Lake Southâ€™s Nick Fontanetta before taking the third place match in a 3-2 result over Grantâ€™s Cameron Kennedy.
Lying in wait for Kaneland wrestling is a Western Sun Conference battle at Geneva on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 5:30 p.m.