Bradley Central split the first four matches in its wrestling dual meet at Baylor on Thursday. Then the strength of the host Red Raiders' upperclassmen-filled lineup took over.
Pins from junior Barrett Chambers at 160 pounds, senior Mason Reiniche at 170 and junior Connor Duffy at 182 set a tone and springboarded Baylor to a 53-17 win over the Bears. The Red Raiders also received pins from Garrison Dendy at 132 pounds, Andrew Pace at 145, Matthew Smith at 285 and Trey Bates at 113.
Baylor (5-0) took 10 of the 14 individual matches in the clash of longtime state powers.
"The great thing about tonight was the effort our guys gave," Baylor coach Ben Nelson said. "There were a lot of matches where we were outmanned, but we had guys putting in maximum effort and fighting the whole match. I was as proud of the guys that didn't get a win as much as I was about the guys that went out and got a victory.
"Matches like this are all about finding out what we need to work on," Nelson continued. "We found out a lot tonight, and tomorrow we'll find out even more. That's the great thing about wrestling quality teams."
The dual started at 132 pounds, and after 1:05 of action Baylor earned six points off Dendy's pin. Decision wins from Bradley Central's Sebastian Hernandez and Parker Falls were sprinkled in along with Pace's pin for Baylor before a couple of state champion Red Raiders in Reiniche and Duffy helped push the Bears (11-2) into a 30-7 hole with seven matches remaining.
"We've got some real horses up there in the middle/upper weights, and we really appreciated them getting the ball rolling tonight," Nelson said. "They're good wrestlers, but they're also good kids, which makes our jobs a lot easier. They're very coachable and I don't have anyone who's above the team, so they're all working hard so we can be successful."
After Duffy's pin, freshman David Harper stepped in the circle for the Red Raiders and worked his way to a shutout win at 195 pounds before Bradley's Gavin Sewell did the same in the very next match at 220. From there, Baylor took the last four of five matches in the dual, with Taron Patterson being the lone Bear to win with a pin at 120 pounds.
"Baylor is one of the better teams in the state, if not the best, so I knew coming down here would be tough," Bradley coach Ben Smith said. "We're still trying to figure out who we are, but I think we're a better team than we showed tonight. At the end of the day this match doesn't have bearings on our state-tournament hopes, so an experience like this can only help us get ready for February.
"We've got a chance to see them again on Saturday, so hopefully we can come back with a game plan to get more victories than we saw tonight."
Both teams will be competing in the Cleveland Duals on Saturday at Cleveland High School.
Contact John Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.