When Lockport visited Lincoln-Way Central Thursday night, the contest figured to be a barnburner.
Not only did the match feature a pair of undefeated state title contenders — Lockport’s Tyler Johnson (195) and Central’s Bryce Gorman (170) — but the winner would emerge as the likely frontrunner for the SouthWest Suburban tournament and ensuing Lockport Regional.
So it was only fitting the dual came down to the final bout. Lockport rallied from a substantial early deficit and Vince Dietz, a returning state qualifier, put things away with a technical fall at 160 pounds for a 32-28 victory.
“That’s not the first time where I’ve been the last one needing a big win,” Dietz said. “We knew it was going to be close.”
Central took the first two matches when Gorman opened with a pin and freshman Jake Dudek (182) followed with a decision. Lockport’s Johnson retorted with a pin of his own to cut Central’s lead 9-6, but the Knights notched three straight wins from Sean Kelly (220), Bryan Ditchman (285) and Vinnie Piunti (106) for a 22-6 advantage.
Lockport state medalist Brian Rossi, a 113-pound Stanford recruit, stopped the streak with a pin, and the Porters later followed by winning two of the most competitive matches: Shayne Oster (126) topped Danny Harris 1-0 and Dan Radcliffe (132) outlasted Joey Nelson 4-3 in matches featuring returning state qualifiers.
“We we’re pretty amped,” Radcliffe said. “Usually when we pull out the white singlets, we’re ready to wrestle.”
Lockport briefly took a 27-25 lead after wins from Dominic Naso (138) and Trevell Timmons (145), but Central’s Cody Millsaps (152) put the Knights on top 28-27 with a decision, which would be the last lead for Central before Dietz put the match away in the next bout.
“You wrestle that dual 10 times, I think you get 10 different outcomes,” Central coach Jason DePolo said. “Hats off to those guys. They’re a great team from top to bottom.”
The victory gives Lockport early validation after moving into Intermat’s rank as one of the top 50 teams in the nation.
“We were close in 2009, but this is the first time we cracked in (the national rank),” Lockport coach Josh Oster said. “Not that we’re working toward state or national rankings, but it’s nice to be recognized.”
Lincoln-Way Central’s Ian Meagher, a returning state qualifier, added a win at 120 for the Knights. Each team won seven matches, though the Porters secured more bonus points.