MINOOKA — Back in the 1980s and '90s, if you mentioned high school wrestling, you had to mention Providence. The Celtics set the standard for excellence in the state, and their name still carries a certain cache.
Flash forward to the 2000's and early 2010's, and one of the schools that enters the conversation is Minooka. The Indians have won four straight sectional titles and seven in the last nine years, highlighted by a team state championship in 2009-10.
The two storied programs met on the mat Friday night and, what was a back-and-forth affair early turned into a rout as Minooka came away with a 50-15 victory.
"We wrestled well as a team," first-year Minooka coach Jeff Charlebois said. "It was one of our better efforts so far. It was nice to see us start to move in the right direction."
Josh Wichett started things off for the Indians by getting a forfeit win at 106 before Andrew Potts lost a major decision to Ronald Triche at 113. Shane Mart got those points back for Minooka at 120, beating Ian Auld 10-0 to put the Indians ahead 10-4. Providence's Joe Fulco then scored a 19-2 technical fall over Bret Miller, pulling the Celtics to within 10-9. Another major decision for the Indians, this time by Danny Ruettiger at 132 over Justin Gardner 10-2, put Minooka (11-5) ahead 14-9. Ken Kirkland of Minooka and Jon Burns of Providence were tied at 3-3 entering the third period of the 138-pound bout, but Burns got a quick takedown and turned Kirkland on his back for a fall at 5:05, putting the Celtics ahead 15-14.
From then on, though, it was all Minooka.
Carson Oughton, wrestling up a weight at 145, pinned Dan Poulos in 1:53 for a 20-15 Minooka lead and Mike McNulty beat Mike Stepuszek 5-2 in the 152-pound match. Jeff Klank then beat Matt Glenn 8-1 at 160 to put Minooka ahead 26-15. In what was probably the tightest match of the night, Minooka's Chris Hiscock outlasted Providence's Sean Burke 6-3 for a 29-15 Indian lead.
Minooka then went on a pinning binge, as Nathan Gunn (1:25), Josh Bouie (1:47) and Eric Velazquez (1:42) all recorded pins in the first round, pushing Minooka's lead to 47-15. In the final match of the night, David Newman beat Evan Carston 3-2.
"This year, Providence might not be among the state-caliber teams, but you know their kids are going to battle," Charlebois said. "It took us a long time as a program to get over the hump of beating them, and you still get a certain level of satisfaction whenever you do beat them. Our program has been strong, but it's still in its infancy compared to Providence as far as competing at the state level.
"I thought Shane Mart had a real good match at 120, getting a major decision. We want our kids chasing points and he did that. Carson Oughton as a freshman wrestling up at 152 did a very good job and I really was happy with Chris Hiscock at 170. He is not in great wrestling shape yet, but he went out there with the will to win and he continued to fight. He still has to get in shape and work on his technique, but that mental toughness is something you can't teach. It filters through to everyone else when they see him on the mat, and that forces everyone else to do better.
"We've had some bumps in the road so far and we haven't always been able to put our best lineup out there, but we are improving and getting to where we want to be. The record (11-5) might not be to our standards right now, but we are starting to develop what we need to be successful."