The Morton Potters wrestling team is off to one of its best starts in recent years, according to coach Josh Prichard.
But the spotlight was shining even brighter on the Potters Dec. 13, when Morton hosted Peoria High and Galesburg in a wrestling meet.
However, this was not a normal meet at Morton High School.
The Potterdome, where the team usually wrestles, was being occupied by the girls basketball team which was playing a conference game against Dunlap.
Instead, the Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center, which is a theater-style performing arts center that notably hosts plays and recitals that is connected to Morton High School, was the venue for the meet.
The meet became more of a production instead of a typical wrestling meet, similar to what Washington wrestling did last year with their “Dubtown Throwdown” at Five Points in Washington.
Junior-varisty wrestlers ran production, providing spotlights and stadium lighting during the wrestling and even audio entrances for each wrestler, who ran down aisles on their way to the wrestling mat prior to their matches.
“Everybody really enjoyed it and our guys were super excited to wrestle at Bertha,” Prichard said. “Morton athletics has never played at Bertha so that was a big deal for the district to allow us to do that.”
The unique atmosphere gave Morton wrestlers a new look at wrestling, something that Prichard believes will be a great experience for the team.
“It created a different atmosphere for our guys,” Prichard said. “Doing something new with the sport is important. It brought a different element to the sport that made it a little more exciting.”
On the mats, Morton performed well under the lights by securing two wins.
Up first was a matchup against Galesburg which it won 47-21.
At 285 pounds, senior Hunter Brown picked up a pinfall victory. Meanwhile, sophomore Drew Greenwood (120 pounds) and junior Mikie Hartnett (145 pounds) picked up major decision victories.
To cap off the night, Morton defeated Peoria High 39-33 behind four pinfall victories.
Greenwood, sophomore Tyler Timmons (106 pounds), sophomore Tristan Gallagher (132 pounds) and senior Tony Monferdini (160 pounds) were all victorious via pinfall.
Later in the week, the Potters earned a split at the East Peoria wrestling meet to move to 11-5 on the season.
At the meet, the Potters defeated Limestone but lost to host East Peoria.
“We have wrestled really well so far,” Prichard said. “Our guys have really been fighting hard every day at practice and have been working on the technical side of things.”
Behind the good start this season, Prichard believes that his team is poised for a solid second half of the year and is looking forward what his wrestlers can do in the postseason.
“I think our program is heading in the right direction,” Prichard said. “We have to take it match by match and worry about the ones after that, but come postseason time we think we will have a good team.”