LOWELL — Lowell finished runner-up on Saturday to Hobart, but the Red Devils were hoping for more.
Lowell collected five champions and two runner-ups, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Hobart’s 300.5 points to its 208. Abel Verbeek (160 pounds) was out with an injury and another wrestler didn’t make weight.
“I knew it was going to be tough to catch Hobart with the lineup we brought in, but as far as the guys that were here, I thought we wrestled pretty well,” Lowell coach Bobby Howard said.
Lowell senior Andres Moreno pinned Highland’s Adam Ahmad to win the 132 title, and Shawn Hollis stuck Andean’s Robert Stanley to take the 145 championship.
“We were hoping to get first (as a team),” Moreno said.
Moreno remained unbeaten on the season, and he wants to get back to state where he finished seventh last year.
“The goal is nothing but to be at the very top,” he said.
Hollis said Stanley was a good battle.
“I was just glad to do if for my third time conference title,” he said. “I feel like I’m in good shape, but I’ve got to clean up a few things on technique. I’ve got to work in the room harder with Andres because he’s got a real good gas tank, too. I’ve got to try to meet him at that level.”
Other champs for Lowell were surprise winner Zack Sands (138), Richard Bisping (182) and Chandler Austgen (285).
“I’m proud of (Sands),” Moreno said. “He’s been working hard all year.”
“We’re trying to work toward wrestling our best here for sectional,” Howard said. “Chandler has been wrestling well, and we’re still looking for some more offense out of him. If he can develop some offense, he could be dangerous in the postseason.”
KV staying on the Line
Veteran coach Mark Line, who has enjoyed stops at Lowell, North Newton, Boone and Valpo, guided Kankakee Valley to a third-place finish. The Kougars got runner-up finishes from Michael Denvit (113), Alex Gronkiewicz (160) and Aiden Sneed (170) and third-place finishes from Joe Wilson (152) and Beau DeYoung (182).
“That’s a pretty good showing because we’re a pretty young team,” Line said. “We’ve only got one senior in the program right now. We’re pretty happy with where the program is going. From day one it was a little bit of a culture change for everybody for me coming down to K.V.
“There’s kind of a feeling out process, and now we’re starting to come together pretty well.”
Howard wrestled for Line at Lowell.
“I’ve been around long enough that a couple of the guys who wrestle for me now at K.V., their dads wrestled for me here at Lowell,” Line said. “I’ve landed a new home here. I’ve been around the Region a little bit. We found a new home here, and it’s a good fit. I enjoy what we’re doing, and I enjoy the kids. They work hard.”
Perez paces Highland
Junior Sam Perez outlasted Hobart’s Mark Mummy 4-1 at 220 to give Highland its lone champ.
“He’s been working hard in the room, and he’s seen Mummy before,” Highland coach Chris Kirinicic said. “Mummy is a great wrestler. As we get into these championship matches, especially with the big guys, it’s just basically staying in position and scoring the points that you can score.”
Kirinicic said all three of Perez’s losses have been within three points.
C.J. Herrera (103), Adam Ahmad (132) and Jesse Herrera (138) were runner-ups for the Trojans.
“Adam wrestled a tough Lowell kid, who’s ranked at state,” Kirinicic said. “Adam has been on a 17 or 18 win streak, and the last kid that he lost to was when we wrestled Lowell in a dual. His only losses in our conference has been to Moreno.”