Wrestling: Fremd handles Conant to stay unbeaten
Fresh off its championship at the 66th Berman Holiday Classic in late December, Mid-Suburban West-leading Fremd continued to shine Friday night, this time against division rival Conant, with a hard-fought 36-27 wrestling victory in Palatine.
The No. 10-ranked Vikings moved their overall record to 15-0-0 (4-0-0 in the West) with their Senior Night victory thanks to some late heroics that saw the home side grab 22 points in the last six matches to close out the Cougars (8-3-0, 3-1-0), who last season finished third overall at the Class 3A dual-team state tournament.
"Our program has come a long way since my freshman year and it's all because of (coach Jeff) Keske, who came in and changed everything about Fremd wrestling," said senior Charlie Fifield (26-3), one of nine seniors honored on Friday, and one of six who won individual titles at the Berman.
"Matt (Meehan) got us a big win when we needed it over a state-ranked guy at 160, as did Casey Bending at (220) then Wiley Jessup (106, 19-2), Evan Gosz (113, 24-1) and Jake Crandall (126) helped finish things off for us," added Fifield, who as a sophomore was a state qualifier, but lost all of last year after tearing both ACLs six months apart.
Fifield broke an early 6-6 deadlock with his technical fall at 2:26 at 152 pounds.
"We never underestimate any of our opponents, especially a team, and program like Conant, which has a terrific coaching staff and great history. Tonight, we found ourselves in a real tight match but thankfully received some key wins when we needed them," said Keske, who starred at Libertyville under renowned head coach Dale Eggert.
"Meehan went from an under-500 wrestler as a freshman to become a guy with a 21-4 overall record right now because of his hard work and dedication, and his 7-2 decision over state-ranked CJ Gilbert at 160 really helped to keep us in it when we needed it most."
Maddox Khalmimsky got the Vikings off and running with a pin to start things off at 132, but a series of six-minute battles kept things close until a pin from Henry Chang (14-3) at 195, and another by Harley Stary, who bumped up from 220 to heavyweight, kept the visitors in the lead (24-20) with four matches remaining.
"We gave away bonus points where we should not have but we fought hard all night, despite missing three starters, against a very talented and well-coached team, so I am obviously very proud of the guys," said Cougars coach Andrew Guilde, who was without nationally ranked and defending state champion Ethan Stiles, who is in California to compete at the prestigious Doc Buchanan Invite.
"Harley got us a big win to stay ahead, and freshman Matt Goolish stayed away from getting pinned with a great effort, but it wasn't quite enough. But after being idle for nearly two weeks, the effort was terrific," said Guilde.
The Cougars will be at the Leyden Invite on Saturday, while the Vikings host league rival Prospect, in addition to Libertyville and Wheaton North.