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After a grueling several hours at the Rus Erb Tournament, two wrestling squads stood above the fray: Grant and Notre Dame. The Bulldogs led with 89.50 points after the tournament’s first day, but the Dons were well within striking range with 84 points.
As is hardly surprising, both schools have plenty of wresters still alive heading into the semifinal round. The 113-pound class should be particularly interesting as Notre Dame’s Jimmy Gallardo and Grant’s Gage Datlovsky both advanced with falls in the fifth minute.
They could potentially square off in the 113-pound championship if both are able to advance. They also could face off in the 182-pound division, after Tony Cashmore needed just 26 seconds to cash his ticket for the semifinals and Notre Dame’s Robert Hill prevailed in a tight 6-5 decision. Same goes at 195 pounds, after Grant’s Jared Lalanda won in 1:45 and Notre Dame’s Niko Pontikalas won a 6-2 decision.
Sycamore, in third with 65 points, could make up points in the 120-pound division as Kyle Akins needed only 3:52 to down Devin Kane of Metea Valley in what was his only match of the night. They also could excel in the 132-pound weight class, after Colton Burns felled his opponent in the final minute of the match. There are no Grant or Notre Dame wrestlers left to take down Burns in that weight class.
Glenbrook South, which hosted the tournament, exceeded coach Tom Mietus’ expectations in the tournament’s opening night. Mietus said he was hoping to finish in the top half of the bracket — the Titans were in fifth place out of 17 teams with 47 points at night’s end. They have five competitors in the semifinals, including Amra Otgonbaatar, who posted victories of 16-3 and 3-1 to earn his spot in the semifinals.
“I can’t tell you the last time we had that if we’ve ever had that,” Meitus said. “We’ve got five guys in the semis so that means five guys are going to place. I’m most impressed right now with Amra at 126. The improvement he has made from sophomore year to last year and last year to this year has just been by far the best of all the guys.”
Jacob Suler also impressed for the host team with a 9-0 victory over Connor McKeehan of Batavia. He could help the Titans gain on the Dons with a semifinal matchup against Michael Mulcrone in the 220-pound weight class.
At night’s end, Carmel was also in the conversation — for the top five, if nothing else. While Grant, Notre Dame, Sycamore and Metea Valley each had a fairly solid grip on first, second, third and fourth place, respectively,
Glenbrook South, Carmel, Buffalo Grove and Wheeling were all within seven points of each other.
Thus, Mietus knows that his team will have to jump right out of bed on Saturday morning, quite literally, as the wrestlers weigh in at 8:30 in the morning before hitting the mat at 10 in the morning. After the Titans fought visible fatigue on Friday, Mietus has his eye on the problem for Saturday.
“Especially tomorrow morning, if the guys don’t have that warmup, then it affects them even more than a night like tonight,” Mietus said. “That first match is always the hardest one. Usually, I tell the guys they’ve got to blow a lung before they wrestle their first match. Warming up, they’ve got to go match pace for six minutes to get that fatigue, to get that lactic acid out of the body and get all the blood moving a little bit.”