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Daily Journal
     January 27, 2022      #76-27 KDJ

Bradley-Bourbonnais claims its second-straight

By Cody Smith

KANKAKEE — After being forced to hold the annual cross-town wrestling tournament in the summer last season because of COVID-19 regulations, the All-City tournament made its return to the winter season, as Bishop McNamara hosted Bradley-Bourbonnais, Kankakee and Manteno on Wednesday evening.

For the second year in a row, it was the Boilermakers who dominated the competition. Bradley-Bourbonnais bested Kankakee 77-6, McNamara 70-6 and Manteno 66-18 to claim the cross-town classic crown.

“It was awesome to win All-City again,” Bradley-Bourbonnais head coach Mike Spiwak said. “Being able to have Manteno here this time around is a huge difference because it allows us to have four teams instead of three teams like last year. ... We had a lot more matches and a lot more fans this season compared to last season.”

Although the Boilermakers secured numerous forfeit victories between their three duals to help claim the All-City title, the team in red still managed to go 11-3 overall in matches that were wrestled.

Leading the way with a 2-0 performance on the night was none other than Ethan Spacht. The 106-pound wrestler swept his competition against the Kays and Fightin’ Irish with two victories despite having to wrestle up a few weight classes.

Spacht secured a first-period pin against Kankakee’s George Jones at the 113 weight division before wrestling up another weight class to beat McNamara’s Jack Jeck 8-2 in a match that went the distance at 120 pounds.

“It’s always good to bump up a weight class and then perform well,” Spacht said. “I don’t think I change my mentality wrestling above my normal weight class. I just try to wrestle quicker and smarter.”

As for the Irish, their squad of just three grapplers did its best to give the home crowd something to cheer for. McNamara won four of its seven matches in the evening, two of which came from returning state qualifier Luke Christie.

The 152-pounder swept his matches against the Boilermakers and Panthers. Christie opened the night with a 15-1 tech fall victory against Manteno’s Carter Watkins at 160 pounds before toppling BBCHS’ Zack Anderson with a third-period pin at 152 pounds.

Although his results said otherwise, Christie was plenty critical of himself and noted if he wants to return to state, he’ll need to improve upon his performance Wednesday.

“I definitely didn’t wrestle my best tonight,” Christie said. “It was probably the worst I’ve wrestled all season, and I’m not going to win a state title wrestling the way I did tonight.

“There was something in my head that made me not want to be out there tonight, and so I have to bounce back and keep working.”

Rounding out the three traditional All-City teams were Kankakee. Although the Kays failed to pick up a single win against either of their town rivals, head coach Brad Burns was happy to see his team never quit, especially because of how young they are.

“We have to stay the course because we are extremely young,” Burns said. “A bunch of my guys have only been wrestling for eight months, and so we talk about growing pains. ... We are young, exciting and athletic, but we still make some mistakes that are correctable.”

Last but not least was Manteno, which decided to join the All-City action. The Panthers came into McNamara and finished the evening 3-3 in matches wrestled.

Manteno’s Carter Watkins (160 pounds) picked up the Panthers’ first win against BBCHS’s Aiden Plumley with a 15-1 tech fall before his teammate Gabriel Johnson claimed a victory via pin at 195 pounds to help their team split its four matches wrestled against the Boilermakers.

Nathanael Randle El then went on to snag a pin fall win against McNamara’s Drew Lowdenstrom to help Manteno end All-City with a 3-3 record.

“It’s always good to see all the levels of competition here,” Manteno head coach Ed Spiewak said. “We are doing well at the end of the year, and if we weren’t plagued with injuries and we didn’t have COVID-19 going on throughout the year, then I think we’d be at a better spot, but we are right where we expected to be at this point in the season.”

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