By Bob Balgemann


The face of this year’s Harlem wrestling team is changing through the arrival of newcomers and return of regulars who had been sidelined by injury.

The Huskies recently fielded a full team in all 14 weight classes while scoring an unusually easy 50-15 win over rival Hononegah. That came on the heels of a tough Harlem Quad when they lost two of their three matches.

And so the 2019-20 regular season is winding down with the Batavia Invitational on tap for Saturday and a dual match Jan. 22 against NIC-10 opponent, Rockford East. The conference tournament will be Feb. 1 at Freeport, followed by the start of the state tournament with the Huntley regional on Feb. 8. The sectional will be Feb. 14-15 at suburban Barrington, with the state finals Feb. 20-22 at the University of Illinois in Champaign.

Seniors Joe Kucher and state qualifier Cadence Hecox were back in the lineup and picked up victorious against Hononegah. Kucher took a 9-7 decision at 145 pounds; Hecox won by pin in just 42 seconds at 195 pounds.

There were 10 actual matches with Harlem winning seven of them.

The bout started at 120 pounds with Mya Turnmire being awarded one of four forfeits. The others went to Collin Swinney at 138 pounds, Zack Hawkins at 220 and Myles Babcock at 113.

State qualifier Jevin Doke and sophomore newcomer James Nelson took consecutive decisions by 10-3 and 6-4 at 126 and 132 pounds, respectively. Cameron Pryor won a major decision at 160 pounds, by a final score of 14-2.

Harlem won three matches with pins, two of them in lightning quick fashion. Freshman Keshawn McKinney’s fall at 285 pounds came in just 30 seconds, then Hecox had his 42-second pin at 195. Sectional qualifier Kyetin Lindquist, who came within one match of reaching state last season, won in 5:25 at 152 pounds.

Pulsating win

The Huskies only win at their Quad was a thriller, by 35-33 over Crystal Lake Prairie Ridge.

They were down 33-23 with two matches left. Lindquist got the rally started when he pinned his 145-pound opponent in 2:51. Then sophomore Marshal Cunz made the difference with a pin in 1:48 at 152 pounds.

Pryor started the match with a pin in 5:52 at 160 pounds. But the Wolves won the next four encounters, three by pins and one on a forfeit, for an early 24-6 lead.

McKinney got Harlem back on track with an 11-6 victory at 285 pounds, which put three points on the board. After a double forfeit at 106, Babcock pinned his 113-pound opponent five seconds before the final buzzer for a win worth six points. Doke sliced four more points off the deficit with a major decision, 13-4, at 120. Then Jackson Cross added four more points with another major decision, this one by 17-3 at 132.

The first match at the Quad was with Yorkville and resulted in a 52-18 setback.

Harlem wins were recorded by Cunz, 7-2 at 152 pounds; Doke, a pin in 2:53 at 120; Cross, a 5-2 decision at 132; and Lindquist, a fall in 4:47 at 145.

The meeting with Chicago Marian Catholic was closer, with the Spartans winning by 44-33.

The Huskies actually won more individual matches, six to five, but Marian Catholic was awarded three forfeits that counted for 18 points.

Nick Cannell won Harlem’s first match of this event when he pinned his 195-pound opponent in 3:19. A four-match dryspell followed before Doke’s 1:41 pin at 120 pounds. Nelson made it two straight with an exciting 6-4 victory at 126. Then Cross won by a pin in just 38 seconds at 132. After Central claimed a forfeit, Lindquist pinned his 145-pound foe in 37 seconds.

Harlem’s last victory was claimed by Pryor with a pin in 1:41 at 160 pounds.


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