by Michael Smith
Grain Valley lost two of its best wrestlers to graduation from the 2020-21 season, including state champion Hunter Newsom.
In that season, Grain Valley was a solid team, qualifying five wrestlers for the state tournament. And even after losing two high-quality wrestlers, it looks like Grain Valley could meet or exceed the success it has last season.
In their first dual of the season, it doesn’t appear that the Eagles have lost a beat. Grain Valley got five pins as a team and cruised to a 58-21 victory against Suburban Middle Six Conference for Oak Park Wednesday at home.
“I was really happy,” Grain Valley coach Jeff Bowman said. “When you look at what Oak Park did to us last year, it was really bad. Today, the tables were turned.”
“There are still a lot of things we need to work on. Our first move off the whistle, especially from bottom, is not satisfactory. On top, we are waiting for guys’ reactions before even doing anything.”
Andrew Czeschin (285) was one Grain Valley wrestler that waited for his opponent to do anything. He got a quick takedown and pinned Ever Melendez in 25 seconds in his first year as a full-time varsity competitor.
Last season, he got a little bit of varsity experience when heavyweight Donovan McBride was out with an injury. This year, Czeschin is getting his opportunity to make an impact for the Eagles.
“I went to a snapdown. I was trying to move to a shot, but I couldn’t get down far enough,” Czeschin said. “I tried to go for a cradle, but my arms are honestly too short, so I just rolled him with a half (nelson).”
Brock Smith (120) was another Eagle to get a pin. He just missed out on going to the state tournament last season when he lost to Van Horn’s Ethan Moses 4-2 in the third-place match. He’s hoping to get there this season and he looked capable of doing that in his match with Anthony Cherco.
He used an armbar to roll over his opponent into a pin that he got in 3:29.
“I used a power half with my legs. It’s something we work on every day in the room,” Smith said. “Being able to use it shows how hard we practice in the room.”
“I was feeling him out a little bit. I knew what he was going to do. I knew if I could stay clear of his two and ones, the match was mine.”
Kollin Hanshuld (!38) also got an impressive victory for Grain Valley. He overcame a 5-2 deficit against Cole Counts-Davis, by getting a reversal and a pin in the third period.
“I noticed halfway through the match that the guy was getting tired,” Hanshuld said. “I used that to my advantage. I waited it out and played it safe and then eventually do what I needed to do.”
Dru Azcona (126) got a pin against Jamison Tunstill in 4:35; Tyler Groves (132) earned a fall against Adrian Aguirre in 2:44; Tanner Barker (152) controlled his match from start to finish in a 18-4 major decision vs. Brent Compton; Evan Reich (160) won by forfeit; and Aven Aumua (195), Colston Parks (106) and Gavin Parks (113) won by forfeit for the Eagles.
For Oak Park, Paul Hernandez (182) and Josh Gant (220) earned pins; Jacob Wooten (145) won by forfeit; and Karl Knaack earned a 7-1 victory against Jace Worthington.