DeKalb denies Naperville Central for DVC title

By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/22/2022 9:45 PM

Naperville Central senior Tommy Porter sounded like his father, Tom, the former wrestling coach for the Redhawks, when the topic of the DeKalb program was broached.

"I think it is their consistency," said the younger Porter, a DuPage Valley Conference tournament champion in his own right Saturday afternoon in Aurora, on the Barbs' excellence. "Every single guy they put in the lineup, they know is going to be better than the next."


The Barbs, ranked only behind Mt. Carmel in the Class 3A coaches' poll, went 9-2 in their championship matches at Waubonsie Valley to dominate the six-team field.

Naperville Central, the No. 6 team, had to know the Barbs' 47-point dual-meet win in the schools' regular-season dual meet was not a portentous omen.

DeKalb eased past the Redhawks, who crowned four champions, 339-280.

Naperville North denied Waubonsie Valley, which had the only other champion in former all-stater Antonio Torres, for third, 190-159. Neuqua Valley (111 points) and Metea Valley (89) rounded out the field.

Danny Curran, one of six DeKalb athletes ranked in the top five, capped four championships in the first five weight classes for the Barbs.

"My focus right now is to win a state title," said Curran, the second-ranked 132-pounder who had a technical fall in the championship match. "That's what I have been working for since I was a freshman. We're all working real hard in the room right now for individual state titles and a team state title."

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Tommy Curran, the top-ranked wrestler at 145 pounds, was in sick bay -- and the Barbs barely missed a beat.

The senior twins are bound for North Carolina State.

Kaden Klapprodt, Rory Burright and Danny Arranda combined for one-third of the Barbs' nine titles in the opening three weight classes between 106 and 120 pounds.

It was a completely new experience for Burright.

"I was really trying hard as it was one of my first (varsity) tournaments," said the senior, who defeated the Redhawks' Tyler Martin, 10-4. "I was too little for my first couple of years. I am excited for state."

Damian Lopez, Luke Schmerbach and top-ranked Bradly Gollum all had one-sided championship victories for the Barbs.

The former had a technical fall at 152; the latter two champions had first-period falls to celebrate their conference titles.


"Rankings are just a number," said Lopez, the third-ranked 152-pounder bound for hometown Northern Illinois University. "We are ranked for a reason. I always like to go for tech pins. I don't want to end the match too early. You can only get better by getting your stamina going."

Bryson Buhk made it a third straight championship fall for DeKalb at 195 pounds; the Barbs' Gavin Engh had another title one class later at 220 pounds.

The 10-4 victory almost seemed pedestrian by the then-standard operating procedure for DeKalb.

Ethan Olson had a scoreless first period against Naperville North junior Aiden Hinkle.

The Naperville Central 126-pounder would gain his form, ultimately capturing the first of four Naperville Central wins with a third-period pin.

But he was far from ecstatic.

"That last three minutes wasn't my best," Olson said. "I should have pushed the pace more. I'm not happy with today's performance."

Porter and Chris Ramirez later won back-to-back titles at 138 and 145 pounds.

The heart of the Naperville Central lineup impersonated human pinball machines in the process.

The duo scored points at will as the former won 17-6; Ramirez one-upped Porter with a technical fall in the third period.

"This is it," Porter said of his days as a wrestler once his senior campaign comes to a close.

"That (penchant for scoring) was a lot of stuff on my feet. I was just being aggressive the entire match."

Ramirez said he had learned not to be too timid when nursing an advantage.

"The coaches told me I couldn't win by holding out anymore," Ramirez said. "I had to keep moving, especially if I got a takedown."

Naperville Central heavyweight Nick Antionetti earned the Redhawks' fourth title with a marathon triple-overtime win over fellow senior Luke Buntin from Waubonsie Valley.

Antionetti denied Buntin 5-4.

But the Warriors' Torres is undoubtedly back from a self-imposed exile.

"I almost quit wrestling," Torres said.

Torres extended his season-long winning streak to 23 matches with a 10-2 major decision over the Barbs' Hussein Thahab.

"I am getting there," Torres said. "I should have scored more points."

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