Evanston’s wrestling program has fielded some of the best teams in school history the past three seasons. But in that same span, the Wildkits still haven’t figured out how to beat New Trier.
For the second year in a row the outcome wasn’t decided until the final match, with New Trier scoring a 40-32 team triumph at Gates Gymnasium in Winnetka and denying the Kits their first Central Suburban League South division crown since 2004.
What was once a 32-10 ETHS advantage slipped away over the past six bouts, as the hosts racked up three falls, a technical fall and a major decision before Bayne Kiser’s 4-2 victory over Walker Witt of ETHS at 152 pounds clinched the win for New Trier.
New Trier’s closing surge heaped more frustration on the Kits, on the heels of last year’s one-point defeat that cost them the league title.
“We let ourselves down tonight,” said Evanston head coach Rudy Salinas. “We gave them opportunities and they took them. We’ve got to do a better job of finishing out matches.
“We gave up some falls at the light weights and that really hurt us. We made a lot of mistakes tonight, and we’ve got to wrestle tougher. We didn’t rise to the occasion against them — yet again. We need to look in the mirror and figure it out.”
Evanston’s strong start included a key lineup switch by Salinas that seemed like it might push the Kits over the top this year. He bumped sophomore Ramin Abraham, usually the team’s starter at 220, up to 285 and Abraham pinned New Trier’s Will Gao in 3 minutes, 49 seconds despite the fact that he was giving away about 20 pounds to his Trevian rival.
“We thought Ramin could give us more offense, and he did,” Salinas said. “But even against our better guys, like Izzy (Fox) at 182 and Chris (Rivera) at 113, the fact that we didn’t get any falls or tech falls out of them was a win for New Trier.”
Danny White opened Evanston’s bid at 160 with a third period fall versus Bruno Frost, and ETHS freshman standout Quintin Hamilton followed with a pin of his own in the third against Russel Sanchez.
Fox blanked Zane Albrecht 8-0 at 182, Abraham won at heavyweight, and Rivera was back to his old aggressive self in a 15-4 rout of Andrew Moy.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.