Injuries and illness often are part of a wrestling season.
Unfortunately, they’ve become a part of Pekin’s season.
But the Dragons continue to battle. They split two non-conference dual matches Tuesday in Custer-Stoudt Gym, defeating Champaign Central 57-22 but losing 42-39 to Lincoln on Senior Night.
Senior Night? In early January?
Yep. Tuesday was the Dragons’ final home date of the season. They have only two home dates on their schedule.
Six seniors were honored Tuesday. Kosmo Green (knee), Andrew Krahn (illness) and Noah Lamb (knee) were sidelined and couldn’t wrestle.
Brody Haynes and Tyler Siddles did wrestle. Hunter Beasley is a junior varsity wrestler.
All six seniors have been on the team for four years. This is the third season as a starter for Haynes and Siddles.
“That says something when you can stick it out for four seasons in this sport,” said Pekin coach John Jacobs.
Pekin sophomore Ethan Gibbs grabbed some of the spotlight on Senior Night, winning twice at 106 pounds.
Those were the first non-forfeit victories for Gibbs, a first-year wrestler who was recruited for the team from Jacobs’ driver education class.
“Ethan wrestled his heart out (Tuesday),” Jacobs said.
Pekin will travel to Quincy this weekend for a two-day tournament Friday and Saturday. The Dragons then will face Canton and Morton in Mid-Illini Conference duals Jan. 18 and compete in the conference tournament Jan. 20.
“We want to be healthy for those competitions next week. That’s our focus,” Jacobs said.
In other Pekin wrestling news:
ROAD VICTORY: Pekin didn’t return from a long trip Saturday to Batavia empty-handed.
After losing 72-6 to Batavia and 40-33 to Maine West, the Dragons defeated Schaumberg 35-30 in duals.
“It was nice to get at least one win for going that far away,” Jacobs said.
Krahn won two of three matches at 220 pounds.
“Andrew is developing a wrestling personality,” Jacobs said.
It was the travelin’ Dragons fourth overnight trip of the season with another one coming up this weekend when Pekin journeys to Quincy.
CONFERENCE WINS: Pekin picked up a pair of Mid-Illini dual meet victories Jan. 4, defeating Metamora 43-31 and Limestone 42-34 in Custer-Stoudt Gym.
“They were great team wins. Everyone contributed,” Jacobs said. “Beating Metamora was a nice surprise. It seems like our duals against Metamora always come down to one or two matches. There’s never a dull moment in a Pekin-Metamora match.”
There wasn’t a dull moment at 132 pounds, where the Dragons picked up an unexpected victory.
Pekin’s Chase Roepenack was down 11-1 to his Metamora opponent heading into the third period.
“I told Chase to go out there and do something he’s good at,” Jacobs said.
So Roepenack hit a double-leg takedown on his second try, then a pinning combination and he won on a pin at 5:13.
The wins over Metamora and Limestone gave Pekin a 3-1 record in Mid-Illini duals. The lone loss was inflicted by state-ranked Washington.
Steve Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.