SYCAMORE – Brayden Peet didn’t have the opportunity to wrestle in the Sycamore Invitational last year as COVID-19 precautions wiped out the event.
This year was a different matter as the tournament was back, and the Sycamore senior 152-pounder made the most of its return, beating Glenbrook South’s Will Collins, 8-3, in the championship match.
“It’s nice, especially because I’m a senior,” Peet said. “We didn’t have this last year, so I had one chance to do it. It’s nice to actually win it for once.”
Sycamore ended up taking sixth as a team with 393 points, 11 points behind fifth-place Belvidere. Yorkville won with 502, while McHenry was second with 444.5.
Kaneland finished toward the middle of the 26-team field, taking 14th with 274.5. Cam Phillips paced the Knights with a second-place finish.
Peet was the lone Spartan to win his weight class, though two others wrestled for titles. Gus Cambier fell to McHenry’s Chris Moore, 22-7, in his title match at 160, while Zack Crawford lost to McHenry’s Brody Hallin, 5-1, at 170.
Lincoln Cooley suffered his first loss of the season, 10-3, to Unity’s Karson Richardson in a 285 semifinal. He bounced back for a late pin over Rock Island’s Eli Gustafson in the third-place match.
“It says a lot about [Cooley],” Sycamore coach Alex Nelson said. “I was happy to see how he responded. He had a pin there in the third-place match. Some of that might be – you never say you want to take a loss, but sometimes those are a good thing. Re-evaluate where you’re at, and at the same time take some of the pressure off you. ‘I’m undefeated.’ That’s gone now. Now he can focus and get ready for the last month.”
Peet and Collins started close in their title match, but Peet ended up with a reversal to start the second period to push his lead to 4-0, and led 6-1 by the time the period was over. Collins managed only a pair of escapes in the final period as Peet won the championship.
Peet’s first three matches were very dominant – a pair of tech falls and a semifinal pin put him into the finals.
“I knew it was going to be a competitive match for him, and those are the type we need here as we roll down in this last month before the regional starts,” Nelson said. “Proud of him. The best I saw him wrestle all year was probably today. He had some pretty tough opponents and he wrestled hard.”
For Kaneland, it was a rare opportunity on the mat as they spent most of the winter break in quarantine, wiping out four events, including tournaments at Rockford East and Stillman Valley.
“The best part of today is a lot of wrestlers got a lot of matches,” Kaneland coach Kenneth Paoli said. “We’ve missed too many this year. This was a great event for us just to get some mat-time experience, celebrate the wins, look at the good things. And we’ll go back to practice and work on the things we need to work on.”
Phillips only got three matches, but started with a pair of pins before falling to Caden Hatton of Mahomet-Seymour, 4-2.
“He’s not happy with it, right, ‘cause he’s looking for [No.] 1 all the time,” Paoli said. “He won the Rockford East tournament, he got second at this one. I told him to keep his head up, and we’ll work on what we need to work on. Pinning his way to the championship, then a two-point loss in the championship, I’m proud of the effort he put up today. He’s got eyes on going to state and he’s got eyes on placing. That’s the goal, so we’ll keep working toward that.”
Paoli said he was also pleased with how Caden Grabowski did in taking fifth in a tough 126 bracket, recording a pair of pins. He said he was also happy with Ade Sanni’s performance in taking seventh at 152. A senior leader in the locker room, he ended up with three pins in five matches.
The Knights and Spartans are set to meet in an Interstate 8 dual on Thursday, with the Spartans facing rival DeKalb on Friday.
“I think our guys are ready for it,” Nelson said. “We take it one match at a time. The first thing we’re worried about is Kaneland, then we’ll worry about Rockford East after that, and worry about DeKalb when Friday comes.”
Peet said going into the stretch with a championship under his belt is a big confidence booster.
“It helps a lot mentally, helps to know where I’m at,” Peet said. “I know what I need to work on, especially before DeKalb – rivals, obviously. It helps me fix what I need to fix before that.”