LOWELL | Kankakee Valley has been waiting for this. Andrew Schulties has been waiting for this, too.
Lowell has controlled the Northwest Crossroads Conference in wrestling for the last two years, but Kankakee Valley stole the conference meet from the Red Devils 217-213.5 in Lowell's own gym Saturday.
The schools will split the conference championship after regular season points were factored in.
Schulties's 8-2 win over Lowell's Alex Mavros in the 152-pound final was a key match on the day.
"It felt so good. I've just envisioned this for so many years that to finally see it go down the way I dreamed it is just awesome," Schulties said. "(My match) was pivotal (to winning the meet). I had to go out there and get the job done for us."
A roar could be heard from one corner of The Pit as the final buzzer sounded and Schulties had clinched the win, as it seemed most of Wheatfield braved the snow and made the trip north.
"This is the best way to end my senior year because sometimes we put Lowell on a pedestal where they shouldn't be. We work hard, too," Schulties said. "To achieve this, words can't describe how good it feels."
Lowell's Hughes brothers each did their parts for the hosts. Sophomore Drew pinned Andrean's Mike Krzyston in 1:00 in the 138-pound final. Senior Kenny also won his championship match by fall, besting Griffith's Ben Stassin at 160 pounds in 1:15.
Kenny Hughes has won four individual NCC titles.
"It's good to go out strong in the last time I'll ever wrestle here," Kenny Hughes said. "I just want to get my conditioning up a little. I think my technique's good enough to hopefully make a run for a state title."
The most exciting match of the day may have been the 106-pound final. Griffith's Jeremiah Rietz topped Lowell's previously unbeaten Colton Cummings with a pin in only 25 seconds. Rietz came into the day ranked No. 6 in the state while Cummings was ranked No. 2.
Rietz said the two have been wrestling each other for years. He knew Cummings liked to take shots right at the whistle and was able to get his hips around for a cradle.
"Before the match, I got really prepared mentally and physically to get nice and warm and focused to make sure I'm ready for anything that happens," Rietz said. "It felt great. I've never really been in the spotlight like this."
Hobart finished third with 198.5 points, followed by Munster (152), Griffith (145), Andrean (104) and Highland (100).