Buffalo Grove begins MSL season with 2 wins

By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/3/2021 7:26 AM

Undermanned Buffalo Grove got its 2021-202 conference season off to a flying start Thursday night with victories over Hoffman Estates and host Palatine on opening night in the MSL.

The Bison, who were forced to concede 24 points with forfeits in four weight divisions, still managed to claim a hard fought 39-36 victory over Hoffman Estates in its opener, then won five of its last six bouts to overwhelm Palatine 48-30 to close out its successful evening.


"After a rough weekend last week at the Antioch Invite, the guys battled, and fought hard in both matches, and showed a lot of character, which is something that I am most proud of," said Bison coach Joe Puzzo.

Victories by Danny Diaz, David Rodriguez, Isaac Wilson, JJ Garay, Vlad Fedorchenko and John Saracco were the difference during the win over Hoffman Estates, with an exciting 20-16 decision by Wilson key in the three-point triumph.

Against Palatine, a 3-2 win by Rodriguez drew the Bison even at 24-24, before a Max Turner (120) pin, followed by falls sandwiched around a pair of forfeits from Wilson and Chris Sanchez (145) proved too much for the Pirates.

"We obviously have a ways to go. There were several of our seniors who basically are in a gap year after missing all of last season due to COVID, but we're making strides each time we go out, so there's a ray of light in our room," said Pirates coach Javier Rivera.

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Rivera liked what he saw from his 220-pounder, Leonel Franco, who recorded a pair of falls, as well as heavyweight Gustavo Gonzalez, who went 2-0 on the night.

After its three-point loss to Buffalo Grove, the Hawks came back to defeat Wheeling 36-30 finish its night at 1-1.

"The guys wrested hard for six minutes tonight, and when we lost, we didn't go down easily," said Hawks coach Leonel Clark, who took over for longtime coach Tony Ganas last season.

"Julian (Bonilla) is out with an injury right now, but Ethan Stefanik came up from the JV and wrestled really well for us at 152. And our heavyweight, Kehinde Akintunde, a first-year guy, has shown a lot of skill and aggressiveness, so he's a person we look to be a strong candidate to qualify into sectionals."

"Izzy (Vargas) got us two wins, one with a pin, while others really came back strong to help us beat Wheeling."

The Wildcats, coming off a 2-0 week, found themselves chasing 10 points (29-19) against the Pirates, before roaring back to earn a 43-29 victory to begin their night.


"We're young and very inexperienced, but a lot of guys came out strong last week to help us get started on the right foot," said Wildcats coach Charlie Curran.

Curran would heap plenty of praise on freshmen Max Katz (113), Jay Rattanahattakul (120), Patrick Tinsley (126) and Jakub Lubas (138), who jump start their attack at the lower weights, with heavyweight Joe Schaeffer and brothers Leo (170) and Erik Giron (182) help balancing out the top end of the lineup.

"I really liked the way we wrestled in our first two matches with Notre Dame and Maine East, so we'll look to build from those two wins going forward," said Curran, whose club is at MSL East champion Prospect on Friday.

In other action, the Bison will be at Elk Grove, Palatine is away at Schaumburg and the Hawks host reigning MSL champion Conant.

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