SYCAMORE – The Sycamore and Kaneland wrestling teams were locked in a tight battle for the Interstate 8 Conference title down the stretch, and 220-pounder Miles Ripper of Kaneland and Dylan Shuman of the Spartans were locked in their own overtime battle.
Shuman ended up getting a reversal in the first 30-second overtime, the extra point key in his 3-2 win, and the team points also helping in Sycamore’s 40-32 win for the I-8 Tournament title Friday.
“It’s kind of a thing you dream of as a kid,” Shuman said. “I’ve been looking forward to this and it finally happened.”
Sycamore topped Sandwich in a semifinal earlier in the day, while Kaneland beat Rochelle. The Indians topped the Hubs to take third.
The 220-pound match between the two rivals ended regulation at 1-1, and the first overtime didn’t settle anything. In the first 30-second match, Shuman started on the bottom and didn’t just get the escape – he caught Ripper for two points.
Ripper managed only an escape in the second 30-second overtime as the Sycamore lead grew to 11 with two matches left – and one of those matches was a Sycamore (21-4) forfeit at 106.
“We had a game plan, and we stuck to it, and I think we were where we wanted to be,” Kaneland coach Kenneth Paoli said. “We just lost it in that double-overtime. It was a great match. Both kids are really good wrestlers, and they go back and forth. He got the better of us this time.”
Kaneland (31-5) led, 14-0, after three matches, but the Spartans rolled off five pins a row from Trent Dumont, Syler Laron, Brayden Peet, Jack Cambier and Zack Crawford. Colton Berg added an 11-2 win to put Sycamore up 34-14 with five matches left.
Diego Serriteno of Kaneland trailed Gable Carrick in the second period, but Serriteno ended up with a quick pin in the second to get within 14, then a forfeit cut the lead to eight heading into Shuman’s match.
“Gable kind of got caught there, I thought we were going to be comfy, and then it was like oh no,” Nelson said. “Now these are really going to be nail-biters here. For him to kind of come close to sealing the dual as a senior, to step up that’s what you expect your seniors to do.”
Anthony Morales and Caden Grabowski had major decisions for the Knights, while Lincoln Cooley picked up a win for the Spartans.
Paoli said he was proud of the year the Knights had, saying he believed the 31 wins was a program record.
“We had a great year,” Paoli said. “Kind of unfortunate it happened during the COVID year, but we’re definitely excited. We have a lot young guys to be excited for next year.”
Sandwich coach Derek Jones said he liked the way his team fought in the opener against the Spartans, as well as holding off Rochelle for a third-place finish in the conference.
“We really stiffened up our competition with our schedule,” Jones said. “I believed we finished 19-7 as a dual meet team. But out of those seven losses, I want to say five or six were against 2A or 3A teams. That will just make us better in the long wrong.”
Nelson said it was a fitting ending to a very unique season.
“What a crazy year, crazy ending there,” Nelson said. “An I8 title in June, that’s probably a first as far as wrestling goes. Coming into the year we knew there was no state tournament, so I preached to the guys this tournament at the end ... if there’s one thing we can look forward to, that’s our end goal.”