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Knights’ early lead not enough

BATAVIA – The Batavia wrestling team spotted Kaneland 10 points Friday night, then reeled off the next 36 en route to a 47-30 victory. The key victories for the Bulldogs during their scoring spree came at 220 pounds and heavyweight, with Batavia coach Scott Bayer electing to have Mickey Watson and Connor McKeehan each bump up a weight class to take on much heavier foes.

Watson, normally a 195-pounder, claimed a 4-0 decision over Nick Sharp at 220, while in the most entertaining bout of the night, McKeehan moved up from 220 to heavyweight and edged Zach Theis, 7-6.

McKeehan trailed the match 6-2, but scored a reversal and three-point near fall in the waning moments of the second period to go in front.

“He’s a big guy,” McKeehan said, “and I guess I got his hips moving just enough that I was able to pop my head out and bing-bada-boom, I got myself some points.”

Theis started the third period on top, but was unable to turn McKeehan to get the points he needed to pull out the match.

“The original plan was to have Connor sit this one out,” Bayer said. “Our heavyweight got hurt during the warmups, and so it forced my hand to bump Connor up to 285 to wrestle their 280-pound heavyweight. I’m real proud of his effort taking that on. It worked out well. The original plan was to just have Watson and our heavyweight [Mitchell] Kruz, wrestle.”

Bayer said Kruz tweaked a shoulder muscle, but should be ready to go for next week’s regional.

Kaneland coach Monty Jahns said he wasn’t surprised to see Watson move up a class, a move made easier because the Knights had to forfeit at 182 and 195 pounds.

“Being he’s a senior, I was counting on that,” Jahns said. “Those two matches, we could have definitely wrestled better, especially the heavyweight match.”

The night got off to a good start for Kaneland with Dan Goress recording a pin at 145 pounds in only 42 seconds and Kagen Workman winning a 14-5 major decision at 152. But 160-pounder Jon Wagner got Batavia (14-12) on the board with a fall in 2:25, and Nick Offutt worked a bear hug into a pin 2:52 into the 170-pound match.

McKeehan, a junior, said it was during Wagner’s match that he found out he would be wrestling at heavyweight.

“It was great,” he said of the victory. “It felt really nice. Brought back some old memories of wrestling freshman heavyweight and getting squished.”

Bayer said McKeehan was giving up 70 pounds in the match.

“He kept good position. We’ve worked on that with him all season,” Bayer said. “He fought the whole way and that’s hard to do when you’re giving up that much weight.”

Michael Doranski added a pin at 106 to cap Batavia’s 36-point run before Stephen Gust scored a technical fall for Kaneland (13-13) at 113. The Knights also got a pin from David Barnhart at 126 pounds sandwiched between a couple Batavia forfeits.

In the night’s final match, Kaneland senior Esai Ponce claimed a 4-1 decision over Charlie Smoreczewski at 138 pounds, sealing the victory with a reversal at the start of the third period.

“I knew I could get an easy stand-up once I had his wrists,” Ponce said. “That’s usually my move, to grab the wrists and then come up. When I turned around, I didn’t think he would expect a quick shot, so I just went for it. I knew that would pretty much be the match if I could hold him down from that point.”

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