David Rivera-Kohr isn’t just one of four unbeaten wrestlers for Evanston so far this season.
He’s also a fan of the sport and knows that the last thing any spectator wants to see is a dull match on the mat.
Rivera-Kohr had to provide most of the excitement himself Friday night against Maine South’s Connor Schaul at 126 pounds, finally prevailing 2-1 in overtime when Schaul was assessed a penalty point for stalling.
The Evanston junior’s win helped the Wildkits surge to a 38-21 victory over the Hawks, the first for ETHS in a head-to-head dual showdown with the perennial Central Suburban League South division power since 2004.
Rivera-Kohr’s victory was the first of six straight for the Wildkits after they trailed 21-17. Evanston improved to 13-0 on the season and took what could be a giant step towards the program’s first conference title since 2004.
But Rivera-Kohr would be the first to admit that his individual win wasn’t exactly a step forward in a match that lasted into the fifth overtime period, following a 1-1 deadlock in regulation. He scored an escape in the second period, before Schaul countered with an escape of his own in the third period.
The Maine South grappler, a close friend of Rivera-Kohr’s, resorted to mostly hand-fighting and took a limited number of shots at the ETHS junior, even in overtime.
“That’s the longest match I think I’ve ever wrestled,” Rivera-Kohr said. “It was also the closest match I’ve had this year. I’m kinda glad I got tested tonight, because maybe I was starting to get a little bit cocky.
“Connor’s a close friend of mine when we’re not on the mat, and he’s wrestled me before and knows what I do. I give him credit for getting me frustrated tonight. Almost doesn’t cut it for me. I didn’t use my head tonight. I needed to use my brain and not try to muscle him so much.
“No one wants to see a match that’s won on a stalling call. No one wants to see one person trying to do everything while the other person doesn’t do anything. I need to keep my cool more and I’ll learn from a match like this.”
Rivera-Kohr’s close call helped the Wildkits get over the hump after they dropped four of the first eight matches, including three falls for the Hawks. Coach Rudy Salinas’ veteran squad closed out the matchup with six consecutive victories, including a 1-0 win for James Marshall-Davis over Jake Taalmon at 132; a 5-1 triumph for Ben Morton over Dan Coakley at 138; a rousing 7-2 victory for Austin Klopfer over Kyle Cacciatore at 145; and Malik Pratt’s 9-5 trimming of Peter Lenti at 152.
Freshman standout Izzy Fox put an exclamation point on Evanston’s team triumph by pinning Sam Daly in 75 seconds at 160.
Also earning wins for the Wildkits were Chris Rivera, 9-1 over Alan Otto at 106; Derek Hunter, via fall in 1 minute, 17 second over Joe Divito at 113; Arrhian Monroe, 8-3 over Mike Milito at 170; and Zach Warhus, a 13-5 major decision against C.J. Yager at 182.
2004 was also the last time Evanston won the conference title, but Salinas knows that even though his team cleared a big hurdle against the Hawks, it was only the league opener.
“It’s a first step, that’s all,” the coach said. “I can’t make it more than it is. Remember that Waukegan (next up on the schedule) tied us last year before we won on criteria, and I can’t downplay any of the other teams, either. Glenbrook South is better this year and New Trier has won the conference 3 of the last 4 years. We just have to go through the grind to get there.
“David (Rivera-Kohr) dominated that Maine South kid twice last year, but he’s closed the gap on David. David worked hard tonight and he was definitely he one who pushed the pace. That (stalling) was a good call and I felt it was indicative of the way the match went. If any of our kids are going to The Show (state finals) this year, you have to be able to win matches like that.”
Source: ETHS Sports Information