DeKALB – The scoreboard read 27-27 at the end of the DeKalb wrestling team’s meet with Yorkville on Thursday, but there might as well have been a chasm separating the two teams for coach Mike Pater.
The Barbs lost by the tie-breaker of matches won, eliminating their chances of winning the Northern Illinois Big 12 regular season title.
“It’s tough, it’s a heart-breaker,” Pater said. “We can’t win a conference title anymore. A lot of these guys had goals of being conference champs this year, and we’re not going to be able to do it now.”
The Barbs never trailed in the meet, and they built up a 24-15 lead with four bouts remaining. But wins by decision at 220 and 285 pounds, along with an 8-6 edge in matches won, gave the Foxes the win.
Freshman Parker Stratton led off the day with a win by fall in the 106-pound division over Tyler Burlington, the seventh-ranked wrestler in Class 2A according to IllinoisMatmen.com. Stratton wore down his opponent throughout the match to set up the late pin.
“I picked up the pace in my match and I kept pressure on him,” Stratton said.
Stratton came into the season with high expectations after a successful middle-school career, and Pater said his smallest varsity wrestler has taken his technique to a whole new level.
“The extra time he puts in the room after practice and things like that are starting to pay off,” Pater said. “He’s really starting to turn the corner, and get to the next level. He did really well today.”
Senior Doug Johnson was set to wrestle, but the Foxes decided to switch matchups and forfeited the 138-pound match. The decision worked out for the Foxes, who managed a win in the 145-pound division.
Erick Fuerte kept the Barbs in control with a win by fall at 170 pounds. Things haven’t always been easy for the senior in his first full season on varsity, but Pater hopes Thursday’s bout can jump-start his season.
“Erick stepped up,” Pater said. “He’s had a rough year. He’s had some up and down matches, but he just needs to believe in himself, and it’s nice for him to come through and get a pin.”
Aside from Stratton and Fuerte, no Barb won by major decision, technical fall, or fall. For Pater, the Barbs’ effort just wasn’t good enough.
“I thought Yorkville out-hustled us, I thought they were tougher than us in close matches and we’ve got to find ways to get better,” Pater said. “It takes work ethic in the practice room. Some of my guys need to step up.”