With a group as young as the North Central College wrestling team, with only one senior and three juniors on the roster, progress isn’t always found with wins and losses.
Though the Cardinals dropped Tuesday’s CCIW dual against 29th-ranked Augustana 24-18, they realized that they could hang with one of the top teams in the conference.
Augustana was up 21-18 going into the final match of the meet, and the Vikings’ John Schraidt topped NCC’s Dylan Maher 3-1 in overtime to seal the dual meet win.
“I’m overall happy with the effort,” NCC coach Kevin Bratland said. “We’re ready to wrestle and we’re ready to scrap. I don’t think you can ask for much more than that, besides winning. The winning will come. We’ve got our guys fighting, that’s what’s important. We just have to pick up some experience.”
The Cardinals (4-5) got things started with a pair of wins, with the team’s lone senior, Naperville Central graduate Nick Santos, picking up a 3-2 decision at 125 pounds. The Cardinals’ breakout freshman star, Layten Binion, followed with an efficient 9-3 decision at 133. Binion improved to 20-4 on the season. He is currently ranked eighth in his weight class in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll.
“First period, I kind of held back,” Binion said. “After I bled a little bit and talked to my coach, I knew I was going to get that takedown with 10 seconds left (in the first period). I have a lot of tools I just don’t use sometimes.”
Augustana’s Isaiah Schaub and NCC’s Nathan Segal then swapped pins and Naperville Central grad Josh Tardy pulled out an exhausting 8-6 decision in four overtimes at 157 pounds to give the Cardinals a 15-6 lead.
But Augustana (10-3) won three straight matches, two by way of fall, to take control of the match. The pin by Thomas Reyhorns at 184 pounds over freshman Vincent Pizzo was particularly tough for the Cardinals to swallow.
Pizzo had Reyhorns on his back in the second period and was down only 10-7 when he was pinned at the 6:16 mark.
“Vince did a great job,” Bratland said. “He went out there and put that guy on his back. He’s a really tough kid. For Vince to go in there as a freshman and battle him like that, hat’s off to him.”
Neuqua Valley graduate Casey Greenburg’s 7-2 decision at 197 set up the dramatic final match at heavyweight.
“I think we can beat those guys,” Binion said. “We gave up three falls, which are huge points. We gave them 18 points in three matches, and that’s just not acceptable. We have a young team. We have a lot of learning to do. Without those falls, I think that’s a match we can win.”