ROCK FALLS – If the Rock Falls wrestling team needed a signature win to highlight what’s been a fast start to the 2018-19 season, it got one Tuesday night.
The Rockets came up big when they needed to and gained a 39-30 victory against Dixon before a fired-up crowd in Tabor Gymnasium. It is the most high-profile win for Rock Falls (10-0), and the first loss for the Dukes (7-1).
“We used to be somewhat known,” junior 220-pounder Brody Mulvaney said. “This year, people are looking at us and they’re like, ‘Who the heck is this?’ I think more people are going to know about us now.”
Dixon won a Big Northern Conference title a year ago, and with a host of starters returning, figured to be in the hunt again. That quest took a serious hit, however, against an inspired Rock Falls team.
“Those are the defending conference champions,” Rock Falls coach Derick Cox said. “We had a tough loss to them last year – the momentum killed us. We were very young, and we’re still young. The guys stepped up and
wrestled their butts off tonight, and we have a very, very good team.”
Rock Falls won seven of 13 contested bouts, with pins coming from Jerrill Hill (120 pounds), Dillon Schueler (126), Adam Meenen (138) and Joe Nelson (195). Hill’s pin put his team up 30-27, and Schueler’s gave the Rockets a 33-30 advantage. The Dukes forfeited at 132 pounds to end the match.
The Rockets also came out on top in bouts that could have gone either way.
At 145 pounds, Izaih James got two back points late to pull out an 8-6 decision against Elijah Ankney, who led the bulk of the way.
At 160 pounds, Reiley Dowd hung on for a 2-1 decision against Matt Lohse. Dowd rode out Lohse for the entire third period to claim the win.
At 220 pounds, Mulvaney picked up a 5-1 decision against the Dukes’ Dylan Messer.
A reversal and a locked hands penalty staked Mulvaney to a 3-0 lead in the second period, and he increased his lead with two late back points.
“The key was just staying behind him, on top, and not doing anything too ridiculous,” Mulvaney said.
Dixon got pins from Hakeem Banks (106), Will Weidman (113), Hunter Pate (170) and Clint Schielein (182), while Bryce Christiansen (152) and Riley Riggen (285) won decisions. Weidman’s win put Dixon up 30-21, but that lead was short-lived.
Coming up short in close bouts, combined with not having two key wrestlers in the lineup, proved to be too much for Dixon to overcome. Sebastian Quintana, a returning state qualifier at 160, has not gotten down to weight yet after football season. Finn Brandon, the starting 195-pounder, has a skin condition, but is expected back soon.
“Rock Falls knew what they needed to do, and Coach Cox had them ready to go,” Dixon coach Chris Bishop said. “They were swinging hard at us, and I give them a lot of credit for what they were able to do. For our end, we were in that meet all the way to the end. We had some guys that needed to win close matches, and they didn’t fall our way because we didn’t make them fall our way.
“That’s unfortunate that it happens in a conference meet against Rock Falls, but that’s the way it is.”
Rock Falls 39, Dixon 30
Star of the match: Joe Nelson (RF), pin in 22 seconds
Up next: Dixon, North Boone at Stillman Valley, 5:30 Thursday; North Boone, Mendota at Rock Falls, 5:30 Tuesday