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Oak Park-River Forest's Roberto Campos (right) wrestles Charlie Black of New Trier in a 106-pound match at Marist. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
New Trier wrestled in three duals Saturday, and lost its first two matches — to Marist and Oak Park-River Forest, the Nos. 1- and 3-ranked teams in the state by IllinoisMatMen.com, respectively — by a combined score of 109-13.
Yet many of New Trier’s wrestlers walked away from the Marist quad feeling encouraged.
At the forefront of that group was New Trier senior MJ Pritchard. The 120-pound wrestler dropped a 4-3 decision against Marist’s junior Mark Duda, who finished second in the state at 120 pounds last year. Pritchard then lost a 6-0 decision against OPRF sophomore Matt Rundell, who finished second in the state at 106 pounds last year.
Losses to Duda and Rundell will hurt Pritchard’s overall record, but the senior has the experience to realize that performance in the postseason — not wins accumulated during the season — is what counts.
“My record doesn’t matter,” Pritchard said. “My goals are winning conference and placing downstate. Anyone can see my record — people can look me up — but it doesn’t matter. It’s just a title. It all matters about how you do against kids from OPRF and Marist. It’s the tough matches that count.”
Added New Trier coach Marc Tadelman: “We try to wrestle the best so we can be the best,”
New Trier has tried to strike a balance in its schedule of wrestling both opponents that provide the team with confidence — like the double dual against Wheeling and Loyola on
Nov. 20 that the Trevians thoroughly dominated — and opponents that are among the state’s best.
Pritchard and fellow senior captain Paul Papoutsis have both been in the Trevians’ program for four years and have seen the schedule evolve into its current form.
“We definitely learned a lot,” Papoutsis said. “It’s great to wrestle these really tough teams because they’re a lot tougher than a lot of teams that we used to wrestle.”
Papoutsis went 1-1 in his first two matches Saturday before winning his third contest, against Schaumburg junior Shady Khourshid, by pinfall. New Trier went on to beat Schaumburg 38-37.
Papoutsis said he viewed the Marist quad, in which OPRF upset Marist 26-25 to stake its claim as the state’s top team, as vital in his pursuit of his first state berth. Papoutsis lost his match against OPRF junior Davonte Mahomes by major decision, yet he received a sense of the level he’ll need to reach in order to achieve that goal.
Pritchard felt the same way after his losses to Duda and Rundell.
“I think (the Marist quad) prepares us for the rest of the year, so if we’re facing hard teams like this now it will make us more prepared for conference and state,” Pritchard said. “It benefits the team in the long run. Maybe we won’t have as good of a record, but we’re still going to be stronger than if we would have gone and wrestled teams that aren’t as good.”