By Bob Balgemann


MACHESNEY PARK – Harlem had entries in 13 of the 14 weight classes Dec. 3 when it opened the 2015-16 conference wrestling season by defeating Belvidere, 57-13, and Auburn, 68-12.

There is a blend of veterans and newcomers on this team, led by state qualifiers Dylan Elmore at 138 pounds and Jenner Hecox at 182 pounds, both seniors.

Elmore finished 44-13 last season, reaching the quarter-finals of the state tournament at 126 pounds. There, he lost to top-seeded Rudy Yates (44-0) of Orland Park Sandburg, the eventual state champion. In the match for fifth place he dropped a tight 5-3 decision to Anthony Rubino of St. Charles East.

Hecox (36-11) lost his first state match at 182 pounds to Mason Delong of Bradley, who eventually finished fifth.

Neither had a chance to wrestle against Belvidere as the Bucs did not have entries at 138 or 182. So they won by forfeit, giving their team 12 points.

The match opened with a double-forfeit at 106 pounds.

Veteran senior Jacob Hayes (32-9), a conference champion last winter, won Harlem’s first non-tournament match of the season with the evening’s quickest pin, just 47 seconds, at 113 pounds.

Jordan Smith, a senior and one of four newcomers to the varsity, followed by pinning Belvidere’s Pavlak in 3:08 at 120 pounds.

The Bucs then registered their first win in the closest bout of the evening, a 3-1 win at 126 pounds. Harlem’s competitor was Preston Schuelke, the only freshman in its lineup that night.

Forfeits to sophomore Alex Zacharuk (26-17), a regular last year at 132 pounds, and Elmore gave the Huskies a more comfortable 24-3 lead. But Belvidere bounced back with a 14-3 win at 145 and a pin at 152 to make it a 24-13 match.

Harlem then put it away by winning the last six contests with three pins. two forfeits and one decision.

Another of the newcomers, senior Jacob Hawkins, started the string with a pin in 1:38 at 160 pounds. Senior Jamari Johnson, who went 2-2 last year, and Hecox won by forfeits before veteran Dalton Hambrock defeated his opponent, 8-3, at 195 pounds. Hambrock posted a 27-19 record as a sophomore last year.

Sophomore Josh Carter, 15-9 last season, pinned his 220-pound foe in 5:30. And newcomer Devon Baldock, a junior, won by the second quickest pin of the night, 58 seconds, at 285.

Details from the win over Auburn were not available.

Conference action will continue today (Thursday) when the Huskies entertain Belvidere North and Freeport, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Harlem’s roster has 41 wrestlers who will compete in varsity and junior varsity matches.

In addition to those already mentioned, the Huskies have experienced competitors in senior Max Brown, who was 5-2 last season; junior Dakota Corbin, 2-1; and sophomore Genesis Garay, 3-1.

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