BURLINGTON – With a trip to the sectional round on the line, Crystal Lake South’s Matt Gimenez was down 8-3 after giving up back points to Burlington Central’s Jonah Chavez in the second period Saturday.
But just like he did against Chavez in the Fox Valley Conference tournament last week, the Gators’ 160-pounder came from behind at the Class 2A Burlington Central Regional, claiming a 9-8 win.
“I always want to fight no matter what,” Gimenez said. “I faced this guy last week and was down 6-1 going into the second, and I came back and won it then. I knew I had it in me.”
Gimenez was one of eight Gators to qualify for the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional next week. Four wrestlers from Central also qualified, including 126-pound champion Doug Phillips. Gabe Simpson won the title at 182 pounds, one of five Cary-Grove wrestlers to qualify for next week.
Sycamore won the regional with 176 points, while Crystal Lake South was fourth (124.5), the Rockets were sixth (89.5) and Cary-Grove was seventh (88).
Zyon Schlee (132) and Austin Laurie (138) took second for the Gators, with Schlee dropping a 13-12 decision in a crazy back-and-forth match. After spending all of the third period on bottom unable to find an escape, Schlee got a reverse in the final 30 seconds for a 12-11 lead, but Kaneland’s Caden Grabowski got the reverse back 10 seconds later to secure the win.
But the Gators won six of their seven third-place matches. The top three wrestlers in each class advanced to the sectional round. Not only did Gimenez have the comeback, but Declan Egan advanced with an overtime win at 195 against C-G’s Joe Burton.
Burton won in the first round to knock Egan into the wrestlebacks.
“In my opinion we were still sleeping, we weren’t awake, weren’t wrestling so hot,” CLS coach Ross Ryan said. “But for him to make some in-match adjustments, to listen to some critique from myself and the staff in between the matches, was awesome. It was well earned.”
In addition to Simpson, Logan Abrams took second at 220 to qualify for next week after a narrow 3-1 loss to Kaneland’s Nate Diaz in the title match. Hunter Lenz (113) and Noah Pechotta (138) also qualified.
For Pechotta, he was down 4-1 in the second before getting a pin to secure his sectional berth.
“At first I was going in knowing I had to win to keep going,” Pechotta said. “I got a decent shot in, but I just worked on getting back to my base. I got the escape going into the second period, and after that it just clicked. I just went after it.”
In addition to Phillips, David Wyruchowski (106), Austin Lee (120) Cole McGuire (132) qualified for Central, with each taking third.
“That’s one of the things we tell our kids – wrestle six minutes, wrestled hard and good things will happen,” Rockets coach VInce Govea said. “David was a little banged up during the week, but I told him if you end up winning you ain’t gonna feel the pain.”