The NECC duals is an event in which all of the conference schools participate and wrestle against five other schools in the conference. The schools then wrestle the other four schools in duals during the season, eventually crowning a conference champion.
On Saturday they really learned a lot about their team and the conference. The Eagles are very young this season and are continuing to grow as a group. They had three key guys miss most of, or the whole meet (Nicodmus injury, Sam Siddons illness, Richardson illness) and were still able to go 3-2 on the day. It helps to have a nice group of J.V. guys that can step up and give Busco some big wins when they need them. The wrestlers that were filling in battled hard and did some good things in key spots to help the team finish the day with a winning record. That sets up a good shot at retaining third in the conference as long as they wrestle to their potential in the remaining duals. In two previous seasons they finished the day at 3-2 and we have been third in those years as well.
Prairie Heights and Fairfield were obviously a step above the rest of the conference on Saturday. “They both beat us very soundly,” stated Coach Sam Riesen. “In my time as head coach here at Churubusco, those have been the best NECC teams that I have seen. Neither team has a hole in their line-up, I was very impressed by both of these teams.”
The Prairie Heights and Fairfield scores were pretty much the same against all the teams, right now they are a few steps above the rest of the conference. That is the level that the Eagles would like to be at.
“It is nice that we were able to compete and get wins in our other three matches, but we cannot become complacent,” admits Coach Riesen. “We cannot say that being in the top three is good enough. We want to catch Fairfield and Heights. That is our goal, not finishing in the top three, but to win the conference. Those teams are very good and it will be an uphill battle, but as we continue to get healthy and gain experience I think that we can at the very least close the gap with them by the end of the season.”
The seniors really lead the Eagles today. Both wrestlers are undefeated this season and are providing great leadership. Braxton Siddons avenged a loss last season to Jordan Bontrager of Fairfield, that was a big win for him and the team. Braxton has had the talent this year, he is putting in that extra work in the weight room and up at practice and it is really paying off. Zack Armstead has always been one of the hardest working kids in the program. It is really paying off for him this year.
Junior Adam Boggess had a great day going 4-1 and his only loss came to Travis Barrquillo of Prarie Heights who is currently ranked third in the state. Adam is really starting to have a nice season. He is getting down to weight, and starting to control matches. A couple of sophomores stepped up and had nice days. Jason Nicodemus despite going 0-2 wrestled the top two guys in his weight at 152. He lost to Dustin Hinen of Fairfield 8-6 in a great battle, and was down 2-0 before injury defaulting to Prairie Heights Reed Holcum. “Jason showed that he is going to be a force in the conference this season,” explained Coach Riesen. “Both of his matches could have went either way, and he is a guy that will be near the top of the podium at the NECC tournament.”
Brandon Wormcastle went 3-2, and is a guy that is always ready to go. From start to finish he gives 100%. He is only a sophomore, but in many ways is the team’s emotional leader. The Churubusco big guys Eric Kuznar (3-2) and Gunner Barnhart (2-2), had nice days too. The lighter weights are struggling right now from a win/loss perspective, but they are loosing tight hard fought matches. A mistake here and there, is what is catching them. “They will get wins this season and by the end of the year will step up and be tough outs in tournaments,” commented Coach Riesen. “I have no doubt in these guys’ toughness and willingness to work. They will get us some points before the season is over.”
Churubusco is currently 5-6 on the season and will wrestle Thursday at Central Noble and next Tuesday at Lakeland.