Wrestling: Lowell defends NCC crown
By Kevin O’Keefe Post-Tribune correspondent January 12, 2013 11:22PM
Updated: February 14, 2013 7:01AM
LOWELL — Lowell sent eight wrestlers to the championship round and won six individual championships on the way to defending its Northwest Crossroads Conference title Saturday in Lowell.
“Well, we’re 2-for-2 so far since I’ve been here,” said Red Devils coach Bobby Howard. “We had a couple of kids we were counting on to win championships but we had two kids, Clark Smith and Joe Reed, come up huge and help out. Those were big points by them. We’ve got some work to do as a team; we have to work to keep getting better every time we step on the mat.”
Smith had a 6-4 decision over KV’s Logan Kidwell to win at 106 pounds and Reed got a 5-3 overtime decision over Highland heavyweight Nathan Barragan.
Drew Hughes and Mitch Roadruck had falls to win at 120 and 145 and Kenny Hughes handed Highland’s Mark Maldonado his first loss of the year with a 5-1 decision.
Hughes, ranked No. 2 in the state at 160 pounds, ran his record to 30-0 with the win.
Jake Gross, last year’s 106-pound winner had a 6-2 decision over KV’s Mike Nava to win at 126 pounds.
“I lifted a lot during the summer and worked out with Kenny and Drew (Hughes) and Mitch (Roadruck),” said Gross of his jump from 106 to 126 pounds.
Runner-up Hobart had four individual champions on the day. Alex Metz won at 132, Tony Vasquez took the 138-pound title, Scottie Sopko won at 170 and Tony Rodriguez won at 182 pounds.
“I have a lot of expectations this year,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve been training in MMA for a while and it really teaches you mental toughness and focus. I’ve got great coaches, a wonderful family and the best drill partner in the state, Scottie Sopko.”
Kankakee Valley had three champions on the day.
Beau Tauber had an injury default to win at 152, Joel Bolen had a 4-2 overtime decision over Lowell’s Ryan Patterson at 195 and Matt Berdine had a 3-0 decision over Hobart’s Jon Ramirez at 220.
Munster freshman Connor Zunica had a 10-3 decision over Hobart’s Camden Vizena to win the 113 pound championship.