OTTAWA — The Ottawa Pirates wrestling team captured six of 10 contested matches plus picked up four forfeits in Wednesday night's 58-20 Northern Illinois Big 12 conference dual victory over a somewhat shorthanded Sterling club here at Kingman Gym.
"Sterling is a very good program, but they are a little beat up right now, and we know that," said Ottawa coach Peter Marx. "The wrestling season is a long one and they had a couple of guys out with injuries, but we've been there too in the past.
The match began at 113 pounds with Ottawa's Luke Fleming winning by forfeit, followed by Sterling's Brayden Porter earning a 16-2 major decision over Riley Hanson to put the score at 6-4 in favor of the Pirates.
Ottawa then strung together four consecutive triumphs, starting with senior Rafael Munoz (24-2, ranked No. 6 at 126 by illinoismatmen.com) pinning Kolten Smith in 1 minute, 3 seconds. Second-ranked Ethan Harsted (26-0) earned an 11-3 major decision over Noah Garcia at 132 — with the win the senior tying Micah Kreuger with 134 varsity victories as a Pirate — to make it 16-4. Junior Bradley Ruger kept things going for OHS with a pin of Victor Beltran in a mere 38 seconds at 138.
"Most of the time they are both going to win their matches," Ruger said of following Munoz and Harsted in the lineup, "so I just try and go out there and keep the momentum going. Tonight, I hadn't wrestled (Beltran) before, so at the start I was just trying to see how strong he was in the tie-up. I was hoping he would open up for a shot, he didn't, but I got lucky with a head. I haven't really thrown a lot lately, but I was able to tonight."
"Bradley wrestled varsity for us last year before getting hurt," said Marx. "This year he has been working with Ethan and Rafael, so he has good practice partners. That is only going to make him better and build his confidence. If he can wrestle with those guys on a daily basis in practice, he can do well against any opponent he faces."
Pirates freshman Hunter Duffy made it 28-4 with a pin over Michael Jackley with 53 seconds left in the second period.
"It's been awesome," Duffy said of wrestling on varsity in his freshman season. "I just try to go out and do my best. You don't want to be the first guy to lose. I wrestle Rafael in practice, and he is a great teacher. I just try and take what he does in his matches and things we work on in practice out to the mat with me."
"Back in December we came into a match over at La Salle-Peru, and we were banged up and wounded," Marx said. "(Duffy) came in and scrapped with a couple pretty good guys and hung with them. Just that scrapiness ... I said, 'You know what, we'll keep throwing you out there.' He's raw, but he is a fighter, and he has talent. I think he is going to be a solid wrestler down the road."
The Golden Warriors closed it to 28-14 after Ethan Edmondson defeated Quincy Torres 14-5 at 152, and at 160 Turner Garcia pinned Thor Rick at 3:52. Ottawa's Patrick Walsh's pin at 3:24 of Miguel Ruiz at 170, plus forfeit wins to Brandon O'Brien (182) and Tre Fritz, pushed the hosts' lead to 46-14.